Caring for your Cat – Microchipping and Neutering - News - Leicester Animal Aidfeature image

Caring for your Cat – Microchipping and Neutering

If you share your home with feline companions (or are planning to), then you probably know plenty about caring for your cats and how you can help them thrive.

But some topics of cat care are less often discussed than others, and we're going to look at two such subjects in this month's blog: micro chipping and neutering.

Microchipping your cat

When your cat is microchipped, a tiny implant is inserted into the scruff of the neck or between the shoulder blades. The implant contains a small data chip, about the size of a rice grain and very similar to those found on bank debit and credit cards. But rather than an account number, a cat's microchip stores a unique number that can be matched to a record of the owner's address and contact details.

Why is microchipping a good idea?

If you and your cat are separated, that's when a microchip can be priceless. When found and taken to a veterinary practice or cattery, your pet's microchip can be easily scanned – identifying its home and providing a contact number that can be used to reunite you. Unlike collars and tags, microchips don't fall off!

In the UK, the microchipping of dogs has been compulsory since 2016. However, the same requirement doesn't extend to UK cats. Unfortunately only a very small proportion of domestic cats in this country are microchipped. This is particularly disappointing as a recent survey found that the chance of a lost microchipped cat being returned to their owner was 20 times higher than the rate of return for other strays.

Reuniting pets with their owners is not the only benefit of microchipping. Registering your cat's details provides an identification number that can be used to consolidate essential medical information. A microchip can also provide useful evidence should a cat's ownership be disputed.

Does microchipping hurt?

Microchipping is really just like a vaccination injection in that it may make the animal flinch, or hurt a little fleetingly, but any discomfort is soon forgotten. It can usually be done without the need for sedation and it’s important to remember that there’s a greater good at work. Because RFID is used (radio frequency identification) technology, microchips don’t need a power supply like GPS and other tracking devices; they receive just enough power to reveal identification information when a scanner is passed over them. They are also manufactured from safe, non-reactive materials that won’t harm your pet.

How can I arrange to have my cat microchipped?

Implanting a microchip can only done by someone with special training. All vets offer microchipping, and so do many animal aid and rescue centres, including LAA at the low cost of just £8.00. 

Remember that having your cat microchipped is only the first step: once it's done, you'll need to register the implant and add your contact details. Until you do, you can't be contacted. Don't forget to update your registration when you move house or change your phone number.

Neutering and spaying

Having your cat neutered before she or he breeds is vital. With just a simple operation, female felines can be protected from unwanted kittens (which, as a pet owner, you may be unable to care for and yet unwilling to release to a new home elsewhere), while males will be less aggressive and prone to fights, and more settled. Additionally, neutering also reduces health risks for your cat.

What is neutering?

Sometimes called 'spaying' or 'fixing', neutering is a straightforward surgical procedure. Once it has been performed, a female cat no longer faces the risk of getting pregnant, while males are prevented from making females pregnant.

How does neutering protect my cat's health?

Neutering has plenty of health benefits, besides the prevention of unwanted pregnancies. Mating behaviour, bites and scratches can lead to your cat contracting diseases such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), and neutering hugely reduces this hazard. For males, these diseases can be contracted by fighting and injuries too, so a less aggressive, more settled tom is safer compared to an unneutered male cat.

The chances of a neutered cat developing cancers of the mammary glands, ovaries and uterus (females) or testicular tumours and cancer (males) are also reduced with neutering – and the same is true for many other illnesses too.

How do I get my cat neutered?

Almost all vets offer a neutering service for cats. You simply need to book an appointment for the operation. When the day arrives, you'll be asked to drop off your cat, and then pick him or her up later in the day.

The procedure is a simple one, but it will require a general anaesthetic, so do remember not to offer your cat food in the hours leading up to it. Your vet will advise. It's usually a good idea to keep your cat indoors for a few days afterwards.

Be aware that cats need less food after neutering, as they'll be burning much less energy. So you'll certainly want to reduce the amount of food you provide, and keep a watchful eye on your pet's weight. (You'll probably save some money!)

When should my cat be neutered?

Cats can be neutered at any age. Traditionally the procedure was typically performed at around 6 months but these days, with better medical and scientific knowledge, it's usually recommended that a new kitten is neutered at four months or younger.

The main thing is that neutering is performed before the cat reaches puberty. That way, unwanted pregnancies are prevented and your pet will be healthier and happier too.