The importance of microchipping

One of the first things a responsible pet owner should do when getting a new kitten or cat is to ensure that she is microchipped. You don’t want to go through the heartache and pain of your cat disappearing when she is not tagged and microchipped. Microchipping your cat for her own safety is cheap compared to what it might cost you to find her again.

Lost or found

“Microchipping is the only way of having a good chance of getting your animal back if she gets lost. Very few vets don’t have a microchip scanner, and most shelters and welfare organisations have scanners as well, which they use when they find a lost animal.

“If your animal gets lost by any means and she lands up at a vet or any of these institutions, then they can contact you after scanning your beloved pet,” explains veterinarian Dr Marius Louw.

Whether your cat is an indoor or outdoor cat, she will love to explore. It might be something small that triggers her curiosity and that will lead her outdoors, or out of a fenced area. She might not even realise that she’s leaving a safe area and before she knows it, she might be terribly lost.

Some believe that a cat will always find her way home again, but unfortunately, enough cats have gone astray and landed up in shelters to show otherwise.

What is microchipping?

A microchip is a small device, smaller than a grain of rice, which is implanted underneath the skin between the cat’s shoulder blades. Owners have to keep in mind that the microchip is not a tracking device, but purely contains the contact details of the owner.

The chip is implanted with a needle and syringe. “Microchipping can hurt a little, but if it is done correctly, the pain is minimal. There are newer versions of microchips on the market with smaller needles, which make it easier and less painful compared to the previous versions.

“The best is to implant these chips at a younger age and preferably when they go for their first or second vaccination,” advises Dr Louw.

The younger the kitten is, the better, but some experts suggest that the kitten shouldn’t be younger than five weeks. This is purely to ensure that the kitten is strong and healthy before being microchipped. By microchipping the kitten at her first or second vaccination, you don’t have to pay for an additional consultation.

“It is a quick and safe procedure, not that painful, and the cat can go home immediately,” explains Dr Louw.

You can compare the pain of the implant to that of drawing blood in humans.

Varied cost

Having your cat microchipped is not that expensive. “The cost varies and all depends on the area and veterinary practice. You can expect to pay anything between R150 and R550. It also depends on what type of chip is used,” says Dr Louw.

If you take into consideration that the chip is for the life of your pet, then it is an investment in your cat’s safety.

Keep it updated

If you move or change any of your contact details, update your information with the chipping service as soon as possible. That way you know that whoever finds your cat when she gets lost will be able to get in contact with you.

A collar with an ID tag is also extremely important, because someone can be in contact with you sooner if they find your cat. Many owners argue that the ID tag is adequate, but have you considered the possibility that your cat could somehow lose the tag? In this case, she would then still have the implanted chip.

 Potential problems

While it is fundamentally important to have your cat microchipped, you also have to be aware of some of the potential problems associated with these chips. Although rare, it is possible for the chip to migrate somewhere else in the body from its original position between the shoulder blades.

Another possible problem is that the chip could malfunction, which means that the scanner won’t pick up the chip and therefore won’t get your contact information.

“For this reason, it is important that owners ask the vet to check the microchip at every annual check-up. If there is a problem with the chip, your vet will advise you as to the best possible options for your pet,” explains Dr Louw.

If you weigh the options among the cost, effort and potential problems, it really is a no-brainer that you should get your cat microchipped. You don’t know when she will need it, and it might just save her life.

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