Sunday, November 17, 2013

Should my cat be microchipped or wear a collar?

by Amanda L. Maus DVM
Catalina Pet Hospital

Tucson, AZ

All cats should wear some sort of identification in the form of a collar or microchip.  Indoor only cats can escape the house accidentally by pet sitters, repairmen, children, etc.  Natural disasters are also a cause of being separated from your pet.  If your pet is found injured and taken to a veterinarian for medical attention, you definitely want to be located as soon as possible so you can make decisions regarding your pet's care. 


Microchipping is considered permanent identification that will last for the duration of your pet's life.  A microchip is a small electrical circuit encased in a capsule, similar in size to a grain of rice.  Microchips are placed using a large needle under the skin between the shoulder blades.   The microchip itself only contains an identification number that can be read by a microchip reader found at a veterinarian's office or local animal shelter. 

When a microchip number is registered into a database, your name and contact information, as well as your pet's name is recorded.  Most cats obtained from rescue organizations are already microchipped. Your veterinarian can confirm the presence of a microchip by using a scanner during your cat's exam. You may need to confirm or register your contact information with the microchip company.

Microchipping is an important way to find your pet if they become lost.  When your lost pet is scanned, the identification number obtained by the scanner via radio frequency is then looked up in the database to find your contact information.  Today's microchips do not have GPS capability and cannot track your lost cat.  The disadvantages to having a microchip is that your pet must be scanned to find the number and that you must keep your contact information up to date in the database.



Collars can be tricky for cat owners, since cats are often less agreeable to wearing a collar compared to dogs.  Proper cat collars contain a "quick release" or "breakaway" type of latch or elastic that allows the collar to be removed by the cat if they get their collar caught on something, to avoid strangulation.  Collars can be fitted with an identification tag.  The advantage to collars is that the cat is known to have an owner quicker, than with a microchip. The disadvantage is if the collar is removed by the cat or by a person who finds the cat, all identification is lost.


Online Resources:
Pet Microchip Number Look Up
Home Again microchips
AVID microchips
24 Pet Watch microchips

The above cats are available for adoption through PAWSitively CATS.


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