Microchips: some useful information

A microchip is a small device which holds a unique identifying number and allows an implanted animal to be identified by linking it with owner details held on a database. The microchip, which is about the size of a grain of rice, is administered by injection under the skin of the back of the neck.

Here’s an overview of what you need to know & do to make sure your cat’s chip can do its job and reunite you with your cat.

The basic information you must keep to hand

There are two things to keep a record of:

  • The chip number – store it somewhere! Your address book, your computer, your documents folder, your phone.
  • The telephone number of the relevant chip company – in the UK there are multiple chip databases. If you don’t know which database organisation to call but do know your cats chip number you can use this website to find the database contact details: http://www.check-a-chip.co.uk

Please note: on rare occasions, microchips can fail or slip/migrate away from the insertion site. This can result in no chip being found when a “chipped” cat is scanned. Next time you visit your vet, ask them to scan your cat to make sure the chip is still there and active and ask them to keep a record of your cats chip number- just in case!

The chip registration process

Most rescues chip their cats prior to rehoming, and if you adopt a cat from a rescue you should be advised of this and the chip registration process. Whilst you will be excited to get your new friend home, please listen to this and take away and read any literature you are given. Many rescues (like LCR) will register the microchip for you and you’ll receive email/postal confirmation from the chip company directly in 4-6 weeks. If you get your cat chipped directly by a vet or approved implanter, they too will often register the chip for you. If you are at all unclear on the registration process, contact the rescue/vet/implanter and ask them to explain again.

Please note: the microchip implant chip is too large for a wee kitten to take. Most vets/rescues suggest combining neutering and chipping at around 6 months of age. The kitten should not have unsupervised outside access until this time.

Keeping contact details up to date

It is upsetting and too common to find cats coming to us are chipped, but that the contact details are out of date.

I’ve moved house – what do I do?

Make sure that updating your cats microchip contact details is on the your to-do list. It’s far less stressful to do this at your leisure than when your wee friend escapes from their new home into a completely unfamiliar territory. Depending on the chip company, you may find you need to pay an administration charge to update your records. With many chip companies you can pay a one-off fee, which allows you to make unlimited updates to your contact details for the life of your pet.

I have adopted a cat directly from a member of the public – how do I update the chip details?

We recommend any cat adopted directly from a member of the public is taken for a vet check and registration shortly after adoption. As appropriate, your vet can advise on flea and worm treatments, neutering, vaccination and microchipping. If the cat is already chipped, the details on that chip should be those of the previous owner and they should provide you with paperwork from the chip company supporting this. This paperwork includes a section in the event of a transfer of ownership, which you as the new owner can complete and return. If you are unable to obtain this paperwork, contact the chip company directly by telephone. They will take details from you and advise you on the next steps. To prevent unauthorised changes of ownership, chip details can not usually be updated via telephone, there and then.

My cat is chipped and has gone missing – what should I do?

If your chipped cat goes missing you should notify the relevant microchip database. If a cat gets handed into a vet/rescue they will get in touch with the database to trace the registered owner. If you know the details on the chip are out of date, please contact the database and explain to them. They should be able to make a note on their database so that if any vet/rescue calls, the correct information can be given out.  We’d also recommend you follow the steps set out in our Missing Cat Action Plan.