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Should indoor cats be microchipped? Why and when to do it

Should indoor cats be microchipped? Why and when to do it

We know that microchipping your cat can help to increase the chances of a safe return if they are lost, but does your indoor cat need a microchip? Our Visalia vets present some compelling reasons to have your kitty microchipped, and when to do it.

What is a microchip?

This tiny radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip can help animal shelters and veterinarians match pet owners their lost animal companions if they should become separated. Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice. They are typically placed under the skin, between a cat's shoulder blades. 

No surgical procedures are required to microchip your cat. The chip is implanted just underneath the skin using a needle and entails little discomfort. In fact, most cats have virtually no reaction to having a microchip implanted and it is a safe procedure to have done for your animal. 

Once a veterinarian has microchipped your cat, you'll register the chip's serial number and your cat's information with the serial number of the microchip. If your cat is found, these can be traced back to you. 

Should I microchip my indoor cat?

There are a few reasons you may want to consider getting your indoor cat a microchip, even if you don't think she would roam outside. 

While we can make predictions about how our feline friends would act under certain circumstances, sometimes events can surprise us and our beloved pet may become lost. If you're wondering why you'd want to microchip your indoor cat, we invite you to consider the following.

Open Doors & Windows

We've heard many stories of cats escaping through open doors and windows for any number of reasons. 


Cats sometimes lie in wait for an opportunity to escape and do some exploring on their own. For instance, you may be mindful about closing windows and doors when you're not in the room, but all it takes is for one to be left open for a short window of time before your feline friend is outdoors. 


Our kitties are famously observant creatures that like to watch squirrels, birds and other animals outside as they go about their day. Even if your feline companion has never been outside, it only takes one time for the urge to strike before they're bounding out the door after an animal that's caught their eye. 


Do you ever have friends over or neighbors come to check on your house while you're away? While they may be aware that your kitty will be there, sometimes our cats are too fast for their own good. All it takes is for your cat to become spooked by a stranger in the home before they're seizing the opportunity to bolt through an open window. 


Even the most homebody feline sometimes has to leave the house sometimes. For example, when you take your cat in for their routine exam with the vet, to the groomer's for their appointments or even temporarily put them in a carrier while you move or travel on a plane, there is a risk he'll become overwhelmed and attempt to escape. 

While we recommend always using a vet-approved, secure cat carrier to carry your kitty safely, having your cat implanted with a microchip is an extra precaution you can take. 

Pet Theft

While a rare occurrence, pet theft does occur. While a pet microchip is not a tracking device, they do provide a permanent radio frequency ID for your cat. Cats should be routinely scanned for a microchip to reveal the unique ID number at each veterinary appointment. If your cat ends up with another owner, an up-to-date microchip registration number could mean you are able to prove ownership, and that you and your kitty will be reunited. 


Sometimes, natural disasters or other emergencies happen and owners must evacuate their home quickly. You may not always have time to ensure your cat is transported properly during a crisis (earthquake, hurricane, fire, etc.). Plus, what if your cat runs into trouble during one of these events, becomes injured and ends up at a local vet's office or emergency clinic? You'd want to be able to find your pet and ensure they receive the love and care they need.

If your cat is microchipped, you'll increase your chances of a safe return and that you two will be reunited. 

Why not just get a collar and tag for my cat?

When it comes to returning lost cats to their owners, collars and tags are useful tools. People can simply read the tag, and call the phone number listed on it to contact the owner. Outdoor cats should always have collars and identification tags in case they get into trouble. Be sure to include your name and contact number on your cat's tag. Identification tags are equally good for indoor cats since cats often manage to sneak out when owners aren't looking. 

As good as it is to equip your cat with a collar and identification tag, tags can fall off and get lost, leaving your cat with no identifying information. Microchips are a permanent way to provide your cat with a means of identification. NOTE: It is important to keep your microchip registration information up to date. Be sure to contact the microchip company to update your information if you move or change your contact number. 

How do microchips work?

If your cat has been found, the vet or rescue organization will use a special scanner to read the microchip. Microchip scanners are universal and can read all modern chips, regardless of their brand. When the scanner is passed over the cat's back and sides, the microchip will transmit its unique identification number to the scanner.

The rescuer will then contact the national database to find out your phone number so that you can be notified that your cat has been found.

Should your cat be stolen, microchips can also be very helpful when it comes to proving ownership.

If you're still wondering to yourself, "Should I get my cat microchipped?", ask your Visalia veterinarian for advice. We can help you consider your and your cat's unique circumstances and potentially assist you in making the decision.

Looking to learn more about getting your cat microchipped? Contact our Visalia vet today.

Compassionate Emergency Care for Pets

Tulare-Kings Veterinary Emergency Services is a pet emergency animal hospital providing urgent care to cats and dogs in the Visalia area. Contact us right away if you are experiencing a veterinary emergency.

Contact (559) 739-7054