American Humane estimates about 10 million pets go missing every year. Only 2% of cats in animal shelters without microchips or ID tags are reunited with their humans. That increases to about 38% if a cat has a microchip.
These statistics are rather depressing and are essentially the reason for the designation of August 15 as National Check the Chip Day. Imagine if your cat should ever dash out the door and head out alone. You'd be frantic, but you would have an increased chance of reuniting with him if he's wearing an ID tag and has a microchip.
What is a microchip?
Pumpkin Insurance Services describes a microchip for pets as "a small-scale radio transponder that carries a unique reference or identification number" specific to the animal. About the size of a grain of rice, the microchip is inserted under a cat's skin. It's undetectable unless someone like a veterinarian or humane society shelter has special microchip reading equipment. It is no more painful for a cat than an injection and takes seconds to insert and few side effects have been reported.
Microchips in pets are "passive," meaning they store an ID number; they do not "transmit" information. A microchip has no battery, and its only purpose is to be read by a microchip scanner and hopefully reunite a cat or dog with his human.
Is it enough to microchip my cat?
No. While microchipping is an added layer of protection for your kitty, you must register the chip with a special database. Maintaining your information with the database will probably cost a small yearly fee. You must keep your cat's information up to date with the registry, or the chip won't be of much help. You will also need a sturdy cat collar, an ID tag with your current phone number, and a recent photo of your kitty. If he strays, you'll be able to use the image on social media outlets and posters you distribute around your neighborhood to help find him.
But my cat is "never outside"
Undeniably, a cat who lives indoors is safer than one who do not. But if your indoor feline should ever accidentally find himself outside, he'll be in unfamiliar territory and may get confused trying to get back home to you. Therefore it's best to microchip both outdoor and indoor cats.
Is it expensive?
Most microchips cost between $25 and $75, including registration in the database. However, if you check around, you may find events where animal shelters or rescues offer free (or significantly reduced) microchipping as a way to draw more attendees. Also, if you have pet insurance, check your policy as some companies cover a percentage of microchipping.
Regarding "checking the chip," some veterinarians recommend scanning your cat's microchip at least once a year to ensure it works properly. So love your kitty and have him chipped and get the chip checked regularly.
Quote to remember: "I had been told that the training procedure with cats was difficult. It's not. Mine had me trained in two days." Bill Dana.
â€œEvery Day is Tag Day â€” Is Your Pet Protected?"
VCA Animal Hospitals
"Microchipping Your Cat"
Pumpkin Insurance Services
"Everything You Need to Know About Microchipping in Dogs & Cats"