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5 Side Effects of Microchipping Your Cat – What You Should Know!

These days, microchipping your household pets is commonplace — not to mention convenient. One of the risks of pet-owning is that they can get lost, stolen, or otherwise escape from you. Before microchipping, you had to search and hope for the best.

With the help of modern technology, some of those worries can fall to the wayside. But what about the side effects? Are there any? With any change to the body, there are some things you should be aware of. So let’s talk about five things that can happen when you microchip your cat.

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1. The Microchip May Migrate

Maine coon cat having its paw bandaged
Image Credit: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

One of the main concerns of microchipping is the potential of it migrating to another part of the body. If it does, the chip usually moves from the original site of implantation. It can wind up other places, but most commonly, it moves down the cat’s leg.

While it doesn’t pose much of a hazard to health, it can make it very difficult to find. If your pet is lost, any vet or shelter could overlook the possibility. Once your pet is mistaken for a stray, a shelter could rehome them before you have a chance to find them.

Or worse — in some shelters, they have the possibility of being euthanized if no owner shows up to claim them.


2. Possibility of Localized Infection

cat with bandage on leg
Image Credit: Suptar, Shutterstock

As with any injection, localized infection is possible after administration. Sometimes within the first few days after microchipping, you may notice symptoms develop around the area. While this is rare, it can happen.

Symptoms of an infection include:
  • Pus
  • Oozing
  • Drainage
  • Redness
  • Swelling

According to the BSAVA chart, this accounts for a tiny number of reaction cases. If you notice any of those issues, it’s best to contact your vet to address the situation further.


3. Improper Placement of the Chip

Microchiping sphinx cat in vet clinic
Image Credit: Evgeniy Kalinovskiy, Shutterstock

The technician can place the chip incorrectly. Microchips are implanted between the shoulder blades of an animal. If a human-error occurs, they could plant the chip too far into fat. Injecting the chip too far makes it very hard for the scanner to pick up the frequency.

Or, alternatively, too shallow of a chip can eject. Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice. So, if the person administering the chip inserts it too shallow, there is a possibility of it coming out within the first two days. This is extremely uncommon, but it can happen.


4. Microchips Could Malfunction

cat microchip getting scanned at vet
Image Credit: Lucky Business, Shutterstock

As with any other form of technology, microchips may not work effectively. Whether there is a chip or scanner failure, it may not register the way it’s supposed to. When you take your cat for checkups, you can request to have your vet test the chip to see if it works.

If it turns out the chip has malfunctioned, your vet can remove and replace it to provide you with a working one. Most practices will scan the chip for you free of charge. It’s best to test this occasionally to avoid being unpleasantly surprised later.


5. Poses Risk of Cancer

Sick cat medicines _one photo_shutterstock
Credit: one photo, Shutterstock

While rare, there is a possibility of cancer developing close to the microchip. It’s important to note that this can happen with any injection, and it doesn’t apply to microchipping only. It can also occur if the skin is damaged, bruised, or traumatized.

There have been studies done on the subject. Researchers believe there to be reasonable proof that post-injection sarcomas developed on-site of the microchip. This is called a fibrosarcoma tumor. But there haven’t been enough documented cases to reach a definitive answer yet.

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To Microchip or Not to Microchip

Now that you know the potential side effects of microchipping your cat, it’s essential to understand the benefits as well. Microchips allow animal professionals to track down an owner when they are lost. The microchip contains the registration number and phone number of the brand or company.

With a scanner, these chips display the information so a vet clinic or animal shelter can find out what company manufactured the chip. Each company has a registry showing the last known address and phone number associated with the chip.

A microchip is not a GPS, meaning it does not track your pet. But it can help your cat come home faster if they wind up at a vet clinic or shelter. Annually, over 10 million dogs and cats become homeless. With the advancements in microchipping, these numbers are beginning to decrease dramatically.

Risks of microchipping are incredibly low, and they work very well to reunite beloved pets with their families. Many cat owners would agree that having the peace of mind of the microchip is worth any side effect.

Additional Tip

Apart from side effects on the body, you have to consider the chip itself. It links contact information for a current owner. If you don’t keep up with your address and phone number, no one will be able to contact you about your missing cat unless your pet has tags.

Remember that microchips are not a substitute for pet tags. However, if your pet is lost at some point with no identification, it is a wonderful backup.

Some companies may charge a fee if your contact information changes, but it’s never much. It’s a small price to pay — literally — for the wellbeing of your cat.

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Cats and Microchips: Final Thoughts

If you are still swaying between the positives and negatives of microchipping, consider speaking to your veterinarian for further advice. They can address your concerns directly and give beneficial information about the technicalities.

In any case, microchipping your cat can alleviate a lot of stress. You won’t have to worry about losing your pet indefinitely if they wander away. A microchip may just be the saving grace that reunites you with your cat one day.


Featured Image: Ivonne Wierink, Shutterstock