Microchips Save Lives
More and more cats are getting microchipped, and that’s great news! Microchip implantation is quick, simple, inexpensive, essentially painless, and virtually stress-free for animals. A veterinarian implants a microchip under the animal’s skin through a quick injection, like a routine vaccination. No anesthetic is required. Plus, a microchip is a permanent ID tag—a single microchip can last a cat’s full lifespan! Microchips can save lives by helping reunite lost pets with their families or community cats with their feline families, called colonies. In both situations, cats get home instead of staying in animal shelters, where they are at risk of being killed.
Owned cats with microchips are over 20 times more likely to be reunited with their families than those without microchips. Microchipped cats are reunited with their families 38.5 percent of the time, compared to just 1.8 percent of the time for those who aren’t microchipped, according to a 2009 study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Microchips increase the chances of community cats being returned to the correct colony. Community cats’ microchips can be registered with information for their caregiver or a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) group. That way, if community cats accidentally get brought to an animal shelter, staff can contact the caregiver or TNR group to return community cats to their outdoor homes, where they live with other cats they have a bond with.
Take these three steps to save cats’ lives with the help of microchips:
- Get Cats Microchipped
Cats can be microchipped during a simple veterinary visit. Microchipping is also sometimes offered as part of TNR initiatives, although it is often dependent on resources. Low-cost microchipping clinics, where members of the public are invited to have the animals they care for microchipped for a reduced fee, are also becoming more and more common. Contact your local veterinarian, animal shelter, rescue, or TNR organization for microchipping services near you.
- Register the Microchip
Don’t forget to register the microchip with your contact information too! If the microchip is not registered, or if the information is out of date, whoever finds the cat will not be able to contact you. You can either register with the microchip company, which may charge registration or annual fees, or with a free database, such as Found Animals Registry, which is a nonprofit service. Registering the microchip will help veterinarians and animal shelters contact you if your cat has been found.
Note: If a cat is already microchipped and registered to someone else, remember to contact the registry to update it with your information. (Example: If you are adopting a cat, you may need to update the contact information for the cat’s microchip from the previous owner or rescue organization.)
- Plan to Scan for Microchips
Animal shelters and veterinarians have an essential part to play in helping microchips save cats’ lives. Animal control officers, shelter employees and volunteers, and veterinary staff are trusted in their communities to help in reuniting lost owned cats with their families or community cats with their caregivers. Scanning cats for microchips when they enter shelters, are brought to a veterinary clinic, or are found outdoors can save their lives. Alley Cat Allies has developed protocols and procedures to help:
- How to Scan Companion and Community Cats for Microchips
- Sample Shelter Protocols: Animal Intake and Scanning Procedures
- Sample Veterinary Protocols Microchipping and Scanning
To look up which registry an animal’s microchip is registered under, go to American Animal Hospital Association’s Universal Pet Microchip Lookup. Once you’ve found the registry, call or go to its website to find contact information for the animal’s owner.
If the microchip is not registered to anyone, of if the information is not current, call the microchip manufacturer to ask to whom the chip was sold. This can provide a starting point to track down an owner. Even caring people often forget to update their contact information.
With the help of owners, caregivers, animal shelters, and veterinary staff, microchips can be lifesaving for cats.