None of us likes to think of our beloved pets going missing, but as any cat owner will tell you, cats can be fickle creatures.
They’re naturally curious (AKA nosy) and they are well-known for wandering off; whether they’re defending their territory, hunting for mice, or as is often the case, making the most of the free food/cosy spot on the sofa at your neighbour’s house.
Cats are also more likely to wander off if they haven’t been neutered, read more about that in our guide to getting your pet neutered.
A recent survey showed that cats can wander up to 18 miles a week, but before you go off and attach your smartwatch to them, most cats remain within 200 metres.
However adventurous your particular moggy is, new rules about cat microchipping have recently come into place that make it compulsory to have your cat microchipped.
Introduced in March 2023, the rules state that all cats should have a microchip implanted before they reach 20 weeks old. Owners have until June 2024 to comply, or they risk a fine of up to £500. Currently, of the 9 million cats in the UK, 2.3 million don’t have a chip; that’s a lot of lost cats, and a lot of worried owners.
HOW DOES CAT MICROCHIPPING WORK?
A small microchip is inserted under your cat’s skin, in between the shoulder blades. It’s a minor procedure, similar to having an injection, and the chip itself is no bigger than a grain of rice. The chip contains a unique code that’s kept on a database along with your contact details. The code can be scanned and matched with your information.
THE BENEFITS OF MICROCHIPPING YOUR CAT
Cat microchipping is the best chance for your cat to be identified and returned to you. If your cat ever wanders off, or gets lost or even stolen, it can be scanned and traced back to you.
Once in place it can’t fall out, or get lost like a collar can, it’s also a safe procedure and won’t harm your cat once it’s in place. Your cat, in true cat fashion, won’t even know it’s there.
HOW MUCH DOES CAT MICROCHIPPING COST?
The cost depends on where you live, but you can expect to pay between £20 and £30. Often, adopted cats have already been microchipped so the cost will be included in the adoption fee with the contact details updated. You may have to pay a fee if you amend your details, this is something you need to check with the microchipping company.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY CAT GOES MISSING?
If your cat is missing and they have a microchip, you should let the microchipping company know. You’ll be contacted if your cat is found and scanned but there are a few things you can do if you suspect your cat has gone missing:
- Check your house and garden for small spaces they may be hiding, or where they may have got trapped.
- Leave some food and water out, they can often be lured back by a tin of tuna.
- Talk to neighbours and ask them to check their houses and sheds/garages.
- Post a photo on social media.
- Contact local vets and animal shelters.
- Don’t panic! Cats can often disappear for days and tend to stroll back in as if nothing has happened, looking just as healthy as when they left and wondering what all the fuss is about.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I FIND A CAT?
Cats are quite adventurous, so you may come across an unfamiliar one in your area:
- Try to avoid feeding it; while this might be tempting, after all, cats are masters of making it look like they’re starving, feeding them will only encourage them to hang around. This can be distressing for their owner, and they may even be on a special diet.
- Check with local animal shelters and the RSPCA.
- Post a photo on social media.
Having a pet can be a worry, the last thing you want is for them to wander off and get lost, particularly if they’re very young. But cats love their independence, it’s why we love them so much, so it’s important to let them explore. (You can get more advice about letting your kitten out for the first time in our kitten blog post.)
While we don’t like to think of our little furry friends going missing, a microchip does give you the best chance of being reunited if the worst happens.
Another way to relieve some of the worries that owning a pet brings is to take out a cat insurance policy. The Insurance Emporium offers four different types of policy, some of which can be tweaked with optional benefits, which means you’ll find a policy that suits your budget while catering for every one of your cat’s nine lives!
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