August 15th is Check the Chip Day. This day serves as an important reminder for pet owners to check that their pet’s microchip is up to date. Just this morning, I saw yet another social media about a cat who has been found and handed into a veterinarian with out of date information on the microchip. Obviously, somebody out there is missing their cat and up to date details would have ensured a fast outcome.
What are microchips?
For pet lovers who haven’t heard of microchips, they are a permanent method of identification. The microchip itself is the size of a grain of rice and is implanted under the cat’s skin at the shoulders. Each microchip has a unique number. This number is registered at a central database along with the cat’s name, age, gender, desexing status and the pet’s owner details including address and phone number. Veterinarians, councils and animal shelters are able to scan a cat for a microchip to obtain the cat’s details and quickly reunite the pet with his family.
From July 1st, 2018, microchipping became compulsory in all states and territories in Australia. Regulations vary depending on the state, but most cats over the age of six months (twelve weeks in NSW), or cats who change owners, must be microchipped.
Only authorised implanters can insert microchips and they must fill out the microchip form and include the owner’s details which is then forwarded to the pet registry which is operated by local government. The new owner will receive a letter from their local council or the relevant registry and pay a small fee. In NSW the fee is a once off, other registries have an annual fee.
- Pay the fees.
Contact the registry if:
- You have changed your name.
- When you move house.
- If there is a change in cat ownership.
- Once the details are recorded on the database, the details remain on the database until the cat’s death, at which time, the veterinary practice will notify the registry of the cat’s passing so the details can be changed.
- If the pet has died at home, you must notify the registry within 28 days of the cat’s death.
Each registrar will have its own time frame on when these changes must take place, privately owned databases may have different requirements. This article is based on NSW guidelines, however, even if you are located in a different state or country, these guidelines are important to follow to ensure the cat’s details remain up to date so that you and your cat can be reunited if it is lost.
Benefits of microchipping
If the cat escapes and is found, he can be quickly reunited with his family.
If the cat is injured and taken to a veterinarian, they will need to have the owner’s details to obtain consent to operate, which can mean life or death.
Cats handed into a shelter have a compulsory waiting period, but if the microchip is out of date and the cat’s family can not be found, it is possible after the mandatory waiting period, the cat will be adopted out or euthanised.
My cat is strictly indoors so doesn’t need a microchip
I understand that not every country or state has compulsory microchipping laws, but it is still a good idea to microchip your cat. Cats escape, a tradesman or child forgets to lock the door properly, a window screen breaks, we even have a dog who has learned how to unlock our door and has been letting the cats out (we now have to deadlock it and remove the key to stop this). Never say never. If the cat does escape, at least you have some comfort that the cat has a microchip and if he is handed into a veterinarian or shelter, they will be able to scan the cat.
I don’t know my cat’s microchip number
If you have lost your cat’s paperwork, any veterinarian or shelter will be able to provide you with the cat’s microchip number by scanning it.
There are eight databases in Australia, six of which are privately owned and two are government operated. So it can be quite daunting to know which database your cat is on.
Pet Address is an Australian search engine which lets you enter your cat’s microchip details and search all privately owned databases to find out which one your cat is registered with. The two government-owned databases are not a part of this scheme.