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Keeping Cats Safe: Microchipping

01st April 2020

  •   Keeping Cats Safe
Keeping Cats Safe: Microchipping

International Cat Care (iCatCare) originally ran the Keeping Cats Safe campaign in 2015 and 2016 to provide information and advice relating to cat safety. In 2020 we are running this campaign again to provide the latest and most relevant information on the campaign’s key topics.

As part of the updated campaign, we asked cat owners and cat professionals to submit their stories of incidents relating to cat safety. We received a huge number of stories on all manner of topics, and they really help to illustrate the range of scenarios, some every-day and some extraordinary, that can pose a threat to cats.

In the submissions that we received, the subject of missing cats featured more frequently than any other, and the most uplifting stories of reunion generally had a common theme; a microchip with up-to-date information.

The importance of microchipping

Microchipping is hugely important for the permanent and accurate identification of cats. A microchip contains a unique number that can be found with a microchip scanner. This number can then be entered on a central database that contains the owner’s address and telephone number. This process is frequently used in homing centres and veterinary clinics to reunite cats with their owners.

Keeping details up to date

In order for microchips to work, it’s vitally important that the details attached to them are kept up to date. All that a microchip provides when scanned is a 15-digit number, if the information attached to this number on the database isn’t up to date, making contact is virtually impossible. If you move home or your contact details change, it’s essential that you update these on the microchip website. Informing your vet of a change of address will not update your details on a microchip database.

Collars and tags

Collars and tags are sometimes used as an alternative to microchipping, but these come with some issues. Not all cats can get used to wearing a collar, and in struggling to remove them, they can become seriously injured. If a collar is to be used, it’s important that it has a ‘snap open’ mechanism. Even if a cat doesn’t outwardly mind wearing or collar, or it has a safe release mechanism, the risk remains that the information attached can be lost.

Are microchips safe?

International Cat Care is in agreement with the World Small Animal Veterinary Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association that the microchipping of dogs and cats is safe and very rarely associated with any significant problems. The microchip is the size of a grain of rice and is implanted in a similar way to giving a vaccination, causing very slight and temporary discomfort.

Other useful applications

Microchips have other uses aside from reuniting lost cats with their owners. Having a unique identification number is important when veterinarians are submitting test samples for inherited diseases. They can be important in legal cases where a cat’s ownership might be called into question. They also allow owners to be contacted in the sad event of a cat that has been hit by a car.

Pudsey’s unintended road tip

Veterinary professional Jill Crawford submitted the story of a ginger and white cat called Pudsey, who ended up 150 miles away from home after an unintended road trip and thankfully found his way back home thanks to his microchip.

A couple travelling from England to Scotland stopped for a coffee at a café on the Scottish border. Without the noise of the engine, they could hear a yowling noise that sounded as if it was coming from somewhere in the car. After a quick search, they opened the bonnet and discovered a cat sitting in the engine compartment who, quite understandably, was complaining loudly.

Pudsey allowed the couple to pick him up and take him to the café where the staff phoned Jill’s veterinary practice. Aside from a small amount of oil on his coat, Pudsey was unharmed and when they checked for a microchip, they were delighted to find that he had one. The details on the database were correct and they were able to phone Pudsey’s owner who was in disbelief at the news.

She had let him out earlier that morning and hadn’t even realised he was missing, so to hear that he’d been found 150 miles away was quite a shock. Pudsey had clearly climbed up into the warm engine compartment when the car had briefly stopped on its long journey north and held on tight for the ensuing 150 miles.

Happily, Pudsey and his owner were reunited, but if Pudsey hadn’t had a microchip and the owner’s details hadn’t been up to date, the likelihood of their reunion would have been very slim.

You can keep up to date with the campaign and read the rest of the articles for each topic here

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