We’re sharing this message again because tomorrow, like every August 15, is National Check the Chip Day. This is a great reminder to all of us that getting your cat microchipped isn’t the only step in the process in giving her a much better chance of getting home.
Cats have a 20 times higher chance of being returned to their owners after entering an animal shelter if they are microchipped, but just having the microchip isn’t enough. That chip must be readable and the information must be up to date so the call about your kitty can find you. That’s what Check the Chip Day reminds you about.
First Step: Get Chipped
If your kitty isn’t already microchipped, don’t worry, it’s a simple procedure that can be done at your veterinarian’s office. Check with your local rescue organizations and spay-neuter clinics to find reduced-cost and sometimes even free microchips at events in your community.
Microchips are a little larger than a grain of rice, and your vet implants them under the skin with a large-gauge needle, much like your cat getting a vaccination. Instead of injecting a fluid, the needle places the microchip.
Second Step: Get Registered and Keep Contact Information Current
Register your microchip, and keep it up to date if your contact information changes. Sometimes the veterinarian or organization who chips your cat will register your cat for you, but it’s best to follow up and make sure the paperwork got to the chip registry if you don’t handle the registration yourself.
If you move to a new address or get a new phone number, don’t just tell your friends. Tell the microchip registry, too!
This is important because one of the leading causes of microchipped pets not being able to get home is not being able to find the current contact information for the pet’s home.
When you and your microchipped kitty move across the country, your old vet who implanted the chip may lose touch with you. If your microchip isn’t registered, the last person the microchip company knew had the chip was your old vet, and a call from an animal shelter trying to get your cat home only finds your old vet’s contact information. You don’t want someone trying to reunite your kitty with you to hit a dead end like that, so keep your contact information up to date with the chip registry. That way, it will be correct when your cat needs you most.
Third Step: Check The Chip
Check the chip! Microchips are implanted between the shoulder blades. When Ashton was a bony, little kitten, you could feel the chip, about the size of a big grain of rice, if you scritched her shoulders just right, just past the end of her neck at her shoulders.
In rare cases, a microchip can migrate. Pierre’s chip has migrated about two inches so you can feel it when you rub his shoulder blade. This is unusual enough that when our vet felt it, he called in some vet techs to feel Pierre’s chip so that they would recognize a migrated chip if they felt one.
A migrated chip doesn’t hurt your cat, but it can mean that if someone passes a microchip scanner over your pet’s shoulders, the scanner’s electromagnetic field may fail to energize the chip. This can lead to the microchip not being detected. To be sure this hasn’t happened, ask your veterinarian to scan for your cat’s chip as a part of their routine veterinary exam.
That’s what Check the Chip Day is about: making sure your cat’s ID is ready when needed. Did you have your cat’s chip checked the last time you visited the vet together?
References and further reading:
OSU Research News, Microchips Result in High Rate of Return of Shelter Animals to Owners
AVMA, Microchipping of Animals
Wikimedia Commons/Joel Mills