Here’s How to Tell if a Cat Is Chipped (& Microchip Check Yourself)
I can think of a number of different reasons you might want to check if a particular cat has a microchip.
You could want to check a cat you believe has a home and is lost to see if the details of his or her previous home are on the microchip, ready for you to access and return kitty to his or her family.
Sherpa Original Deluxe Pet Travel Carrier Medium – Amazon / eBay
Or you could want to double check to make sure the neighbourhood cat you’ve been taken care of doesn’t have a home because you’re considering taking him or her in yourself and just want to be certain you’re not taking a cat from another family.
You could even want to double check to make sure one of your cats has a microchip in them, say because you forgot or adopted it from someone else who said the pet was microchipped, but didn’t give you the bar code.
Or maybe you’re worried the cat in question was scanned by a microchip reader that didn’t pick up the chip inside the pet, so you want to do a double check.
In case, if you were worried you wouldn’t be able to do this easily, rest assured because there are a lot of options for scanning a pet. I’m going to go through the ways that work and don’t work quickly in this article, and the pros and cons of them.
Let me know how it goes for you in the comments section down below!
Amazon Basics Soft-Sided Mesh Pet Travel Carrier, Small – Amazon
How to Tell if a Cat Is Microchipped
1. Visit a shelter or a vet to check if the cat is microchipped.
This is by far the easiest and most affordable way – typically – for you to see if a particular cat is microchipped, especially since most vets and shelters will scan a cat for a microchip free of charge.
Vets and shelters typically have quite good microchip readers, especially in comparison to cheap or affordable ones you can easily access and buy yourself. That being said, they’re not a surefire bet. I’m not actually sure if there is a microchip reader that is 100% accurate, especially since I’ve heard some old microchips can no longer be read.
Some microchips may also have migrated away from where they initially were, so if the shelter or vet wasn’t patient enough to scan the cat’s entire body slowly and carefully, they may have missed a microchip while trying to scan the feline.
That being said, it’s more likely you’re going to get an accurate read and find out if there is a microchip at a vet or a shelter. But it may not be 100% accurate and there are other downsides to going to a vet or shelter.
You may feel like the vet or shelter is way too long away, or you might have found a considerable number of strays and feral cats and want to be able to check these yourself instead of having to keep going back into the vet or shelter you typically go to.
While I’m sure that all vets and shelters will do a microchip check for you if you ask them to free of charge, there may also be an issue with regards to wait times or schedules not aligning, especially if you have to capture the cat and are worried you won’t be able to get the stray or feral cat in a carrier at a time that aligns with the hours of the vet or shelter.
In which case, you’ll want to check for microchips in the cat yourself. So let’s get into how to do that.
2. You can feel for a microchip, but it’s not such a good option.
Technically speaking you can feel around to see if you can sense a microchip under a cat’s skin, if the cat is calm enough and if you’re happy to go looking.
But this is a completely unreliable method of looking for a microchip because things can feel like microchips when they are not, and you can easily not “find” anything, with their being a microchip. So I really wouldn’t recommend this option at all.
3. Affordable microchip scanners and readers you can use from home.
There are a number of cheap and affordable pet microchip readers you can buy and many of them are well under $50, usually around $25-35.
Some of the notable ones (because they have a decent number of reviews) are the following:
Tosuny Microchip Reader Scanner Smoostart Pet Microchip Scanner Yanzeo Pet Microchip Reader
The issues with these are pretty apparent from the reviews.
They normally don’t scan all types of microchips, especially not old ones and some missing particular brands entirely, AVID being one of the ones I saw repeatedly being reported as a brand that just did not get picked up by the reader.
They normally are a bit difficult to use as well. Although I’ve seen some people having success with them and I’ve seen some people say that if you take a picture of the bar code that comes up it makes them easier to use (since they have battery conserving features and don’t leave the number up for too long even if they do show a number), they’re absolutely not surefire bets.
What about the less affordable side of the spectrum? Especially if you’re checking stray and feral cats on the regular and really want something dependable?
Petmate Sky Kennel Airline Approved Pet Cage – Amazon / Chewy
4. Slightly higher end microchip readers you can use to check cats for chips.
There are a number of microchip scanners in the mid-tier price range that look to be alright.
The noteworthy ones are:
Pet Technology Store Halo Microchip Scanner ISENVO Universal Pet Microchip Scanner
The problem with these is that they seem to have a lot of the same issues as the really cheap microchip readers, not being able to read specific brands at all, like AVID and Trovan, although they are supposed to be very good at reading ISO tags and new tags.
Old tags are supposedly a problem as well. I’m not sure if that’s because they changed or because they age, but someone mentioned tags over 3 years old being a problem scanning in one of their reviews.
I feel like it’s almost pointless to go to this price range, and makes a bit more sense to either buy the really cheap ones or buy the more expensive ones. But what do I know. I could be totally wrong about this, and would be happy to be told what’s what in the comments section, so please leave your advice if you have any experience with this.
The more expensive ones I’m talking about? Something like the Hero Pet Microchip Reader, Bluetooth, Includes Case and Test Chip.
Way too much if you’re just going to scan one or two or even three cats. But if you regularly catch and release or if you’re considering just getting something that will work, have a look at that one and maybe it’s the right fit for you.
Many reviews of microchip readers also mention them stopping working after some time, so it may be worth a look to have one that’s very good at reading the vast majority of microchips and will hopefully not stop working any time soon either.
Your Thoughts on Checking Cats for Chips?
Do you have any experience with microchip readers or checking cats for microchips? Do you have any advice for those who are trying to do so on their own? Those who are trying to do so at the vet or shelter?
Have you any personal experience with any of the microchip readers I’ve listed, or any others for that matter, that you could share?
Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments down below!
Have three pet cats, Avery, Bjorn, & Athos whom I love to bits. Obsessed with cats. Figured I might as well blog about ’em.
Fond of my fluffies? See more of them on my personal blog, E&T. Dig KittyClysm? Check out all the other blogs I pen & photograph.
Elise’s Favourite Tip
One of the most frustrating problems I’ve had to deal with as a pet parent is staying on top of my cats’ desire to play. While this is typically hard to do, toys like these that allow cats to play by themselves make the job one heck of a lot easier.
The hits in my household are ridiculously affordable: cat springs, ball track toys, & kick sticks. I have a slew scattered around the house, so when my cats get bored, even if I’m busy or not even home, my furries are able to actively play.
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Hi, I’m Elise! Welcome to KittyClysm – a blog for cat lovers & kitty keepers. Join me & my three grumpy-lookin’ old man cats – Avery, Bjorn, & Athos – as I discuss cat topics like funny cat behaviours, cat training tips, feline facts, pet care advice and so much more!
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