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Microchips for Cats: Everything You Need to Know 

Microchips for Cats

Cat microchipping is a legal requirement in most Australian states. But what exactly are cat microchips, and are they really necessary? 

Cat microchips contain a unique number linked to your account on a pet registry database. When the microchip is scanned by a vet or animal shelter, they are able to find your contact details to return your pet if they are lost. Microchipping is affordable and safe for your cat or kitten. 

Even though getting your cat microchipped is a safe, routine procedure, you may still have questions. That’s okay! When you welcome a cat or kitten into the family, you’ll want to do everything that’s best for their wellbeing. 

That’s why we’ve created this article, to cover all the typical cat microchipping questions we hear at Paws and More Vet Centre. 

Read on to learn everything you need to know about microchipping your cat or kitten.

What Is a Microchip for Cats?

When the microchip is scanned by a vet or animal shelter, this unique number can be looked up in an animal registry database, which connects the number with the cat’s owner’s contact details.

In addition to giving their cats good nutrition, proper vet care, and plenty of love, responsible pet owners ensure that their cats are microchipped. 

Veterinarians and animal shelters will scan animals brought to them, enabling them to locate the owners and return their lost pets. Between food, medical care, housing and euthanasia costs, it can be very expensive for animal shelters to house your pet for extended periods. However, a cat microchip allows animal shelter workers to identify the owners of a cat and get in contact with them to return their pet faster.

How Do Microchips for Cats Work?

Cat microchips use RFID technology, which produces a unique identification number when scanned. This number is used to access cat owner details found on an animal registry database. Cat microchips don’t require a battery and are inactive until scanned by a pet microchip scanner.

Cat microchips are implanted just beneath the animal’s skin and are about the size of a grain of rice. Once installed, they’ll remain there for life. If your pet gets lost, the information stored inside the chip can be used to find out where their owner lives and how to contact them.

When a cat is brought into a vet clinic or animal shelter, a special scanner is used to find the unique number on your cat’s microchip. The microchip number is then used to look up the pet on a registry. 

The registry entry is what contains the owner’s contact information. This information is used to identify who the cat belongs to, meaning the shelter or vet can get in touch with you to let you know your cat has been found.

Will a Microchip Tell Me My Cat’s Location?

Unfortunately, you cannot track or locate your cat even if they’re implanted with a microchip. That’s because there’s no integrated global positioning system (GPS) or any localisation or navigation technology within the cat microchip.

The size of a cat’s microchip makes it too small to contain any kind of real-time tracking technology like GPS, so you can’t use a microchip in actively searching for your furry friend’s location. Currently, GPS technology is not compact enough to be implanted safely in pets. 

However, tracking your cat’s location is not impossible. In the last decade, pet collar attachments with GPS tracking capabilities have become more sophisticated and more accessible.

How Long Does a Microchip in a Cat Last?

Cat microchips will last the entire lifespan of your pet. You only need to update your contact details in the registry entry if you change them, which can be done online. There are no internal batteries in cat microchips, so there is nothing that needs to be replaced over time.

It only takes a few moments for a cat microchip to be implanted, but once it’s in, it’ll last a lifetime. You’ll never have to even think about your cat’s microchip unless you are updating information, like if you move houses or change numbers, for example.

How Is a Cat Microchip Implanted?

A cat microchip is implanted below the skin between your cat’s shoulder blades or on their back. The vet or technician implants the chip using a special syringe and records its unique ID. The microchip is tiny, and the process takes under five minutes.

Microchipping your cat seems to imply a high-tech surgical procedure usually seen in science fiction. However, it’s short and easy. This is a short and simple procedure that is not painful for your cat – at worst, it only causes some minor discomfort. The entire process is done in just a few seconds, and there’s no need for a local anaesthetic.

Usually, you’ll fill out a registration form, which is sent to a pet microchip registry. Registrations can also be done online, so you can register your cat’s microchip yourself. You’ll get a registration certificate with your pet’s unique chip ID. Registration can be transferred if you decide to sell or give your cat to a new owner.

What Are the Benefits of Microchipping Your Cat?

There are several reasons why you should microchip your cat. The benefits microchipping provides vastly outweigh the minor cost and commute to the vet.

The main benefits of microchipping your cat include:

  • Peace of mind – Your contact information in the microchip can help people return your lost pet. Microchipping also helps prevent and protect your pet from being stolen. That’s because you’ll have proof of ownership in case someone tries to falsely claim your pet.
  • Safety – Microchips are sterilised and safe. There are very few instances in which the microchip causes adverse reactions.
  • Efficiency – Microchips last for your pet’s lifetime. There’s no need to re-implant microchips for any reason unless they move within your cat. However, this is incredibly uncommon.
  • Affordability – Microchipping is affordable, and you only need to pay once.
  • Social Responsibility – You help rescue centres reduce the cost of housing, feeding, and caring for lost pets. That’s because they can simply return your pet to you.
  • Legal Obligation – Microchipping makes you a responsible pet owner, as cats in Australia are required to be microchipped.

Is Cat Microchipping Mandatory in Australia?

In most Australian states, microchipping cats is mandatory by law, and fines apply for non-microchipped cats. The age by which kittens must be microchipped varies between 12 weeks and six months, depending on the state.

Here are summaries of the present laws and regulations regarding cat microchipping in Australia:

ACTMicrochipping cats is mandatory under Section 84 of the Domestic Animals Act 2000 and Regulation 7 of the Domestic Animals Regulation 2001. Under the law, cats that are at least 12 weeks old must be implanted with a microchip. Also, cats should be microchipped before they are sold or transferred to a new owner.

Part 3 of Section 83 contains provisions for the data that should be recorded in the microchip.
NSWMicrochipping for cats is mandatory under Section 8 of the Companion Animals Act 1998. The act requires cats to have some sort of identification, such as cat microchips, collars with tags, and other prescribed IDs. Cats must also be microchipped by 12 weeks old before they are sold or before being transferred to a new owner. 
NTImplanting cat microchips is not legally required in the Northern Territory. However, it’s highly recommended that pet owners do so to enjoy the peace of mind that comes with microchipping. 
QLDIn Queensland, cat microchipping is mandatory under Sections 13 and 14 of the Animal Management (Cats and Dogs) Act 2008. Authorised professionals can administer cat microchips once the kitten reaches 12 weeks old. Kittens should also be microchipped when they’re 12 weeks of age. Also, like in many Australian states, microchipping is required if the cat is sold or given to another owner. 
Schedule 2 of this legislation and Schedule 4 of the Animal Management (Cats and Dogs) Regulation 2009 outline which information should be kept in the microchip database.
SACat microchipping is not required by state law in South Australia. However, if you’re living in South Australia, check your local council’s regulations. Whether microchipping is mandatory or not, we highly recommend that you microchip your cat anyway.
TASIn Tasmania, you are required to have your cat microchipped. This is stipulated in Part 3 of the Cat Management Act of 2009. Cats that are four months of age are required to be implanted with a microchip by an authorised vet or technician. Cats must also be microchipped before sale or transfer. 
VICCat microchipping for felines of at least three months of age is compulsory in the state of Victoria as stipulated in Section 10C of the Domestic Animals Act of 1994. Pets must be registered, and microchipping is a requirement for registration. This is also required before selling or transferring ownership; however, it’s only applicable to domestic animal businesses such as pet stores and breeders.

Regulation 12 of the Domestic Animals Regulations 2006 indicates the needed information for the microchip. Section 12A (2) of the Domestic Animals Act 1994 also requires that if the cat is advertised for sale, the cat’s microchip number be displayed in the advertisement, not at the point of sale.
WAIn Western Australia, cats are required to be microchipped before they reach six months old, according to Sections 14 and 23 of the Cat Act 2011. The only exception to this provision is if a vet deems that microchipping would negatively affect the welfare and health of the animal. To be sold or transferred, cats need to be microchipped.

Why Is Cat Microchipping Legally Required?

Microchips help animal shelters and rescue centres return lost cats to their owners, which is a large reason why microchipping is required. This reduces unnecessary expenses and effort in feeding, caring for, and re-homing lost cats. It also reduces cats being needlessly euthanised after shelters become congested.

As you can see, a lot of Australian states legally require cat microchipping. That’s because it’s the fastest and most effective way of identifying and returning lost cats. This takes the pressure off the government and society itself.

In several Australian states, microchipping a cat or kitten is also required for pet registration with your local council. Many states also require microchipping before the sale or transfer of a cat, including kitten adoption. Those who do not adhere to these legal provisions face a hefty fine. It’s also illegal to remove the implant unless it’s done by an authorised vet or technician.

To fulfil your obligation as a lawful and responsible pet owner, prevent expensive fines and avoid the needless heartache of losing your pet, it’s essential to microchip your cat.

Whose Responsibility Is It to Microchip a Cat?

Under the law, a pet owner is legally responsible for making sure the cat is microchipped. However, a seller or breeder is responsible for microchipping cats before the animals are sold or made available for adoption. For safety, the cat microchipping procedure itself should always be done by a qualified veterinary clinic.

Is Cat Microchipping Mandatory in WA?

In Western Australia, cats legally must be microchipped by the time they reach six months of age, as outlined in Sections 14 and 23 of the Cat Act 2011. Microchipping is also required before cats and kittens are sold or adopted.

Do I Have to Microchip My Indoor Cat?

Even if you intend to keep your cat indoors all the time, it still needs to be microchipped as required by law. Since indoor cats may still escape or get lost, microchipping your cat is a great pre-emptive measure to ensure they can be returned home safely.

Cats are naturally curious and prone to try and roam, so unless you constantly monitor them, it’s always possible for an indoor cat to find a way outside your home. Accidents can also happen. For example, a door or window inadvertently left open may allow the cat to escape from your home. 

If an indoor cat does escape, microchipping is the number one way to ensure your cat is reunited. In fact, a cat that is typically indoors may have an even more difficult time finding its own way home if it does become lost. Even the most vigilant owners can have a cat go missing if a guest, tradesperson or cat sitter makes a mistake, so microchipping your cat is always the safest bet. 

Microchipping is also required for the sale and adoption of cats, which is another reason why even indoor cats need to be microchipped.

Does My Cat Need a Microchip if They Already Have a Collar With a Tag?

While a tag serves a similar function to the microchip (animal identification), you still legally need to have your cat microchipped. The microchip cannot be lost or removed like a tag can, ensuring your cat can always be identified and returned.

As a general rule in the field of animal rescue, the more types of identification your pet has, the better. Collars with the cat owner’s contact information printed on them are good and visible, but they can be accidentally detached or deliberately removed.

Tags that are attached to collars are also identifiers. However, as time goes by, the information in the tags can fade and wear off and can render them unreadable, or details can be out of date.

Microchips, on the other hand, are permanent. Since microchips are implanted in the cats’ flesh, they won’t be dislodged. The data won’t fade, and contact details can be updated remotely, so you’ll easily be able to keep it current.

Microchip information is also a definitive sign of ownership in case a cat is found or stolen, unlike tags and collars that can be removed and changed easily.

Are There Exemptions to Microchipping a Cat?

The only exemptions for microchipping a cat are if the procedure would be a significant risk to the cat’s health, such as for very ill or elderly cats. These situations are rare, and almost all cats can be microchipped safely. 

While cat microchipping is simple, minor, and safe, it is a medical procedure. If a cat is very elderly, has a serious medical condition, or is in otherwise fragile health, it is possible to get a legal exemption from microchipping. 

A registered vet can provide you with a microchipping exemption certificate if required. In Western Australia, this only applies to cats over six months of age, so exemptions can’t be used to sell kittens without a microchip.

Having a cat that is old or unwell is not justification for a microchipping exemption unless you get a vet certificate. This means you can still be fined for not microchipping your cat, even for health reasons. The safest thing to do is consult a vet if you think microchipping would be bad for your cat, ensuring you have an official exemption and won’t face fines in the future.

What Age Can a Kitten Be Microchipped?

Kittens can be microchipped once they’re eight to twelve weeks old. In Western Australia, cats must be microchipped before they reach six months old. It’s also a legal requirement to microchip kittens before they can be sold or adopted. 

It’s not advisable to implant a microchip when the kitten is newborn or just several days old since their tissue is still very fragile. A kitten’s muscle tissues need time to grow and develop before they’re ready to be microchipped safely. 

There is no maximum age for getting a cat microchipped unless an elderly cat is in very poor health. If you were to adopt a stray cat that had not been microchipped, there are no risks associated with having them microchipped later in life.

Are Microchips Safe for Cats?

Microchipping is a minor medical procedure that is deemed very safe for cats, and causes minimal discomfort. There are rare instances of reported adverse effects, but any side effects are minor, like mild swelling and itching. 

The process of microchipping a cat is short and simple. Each microchip, which is preloaded into a sterile syringe, is injected into the loose skin right between your pet’s shoulder blades.

The components of a microchip are housed inside a sterilised, biocompatible casing such as borosilicate glass or soda lime. The casing is also hermetically sealed to prevent infection once the chip is implanted.

Implanting microchips on cats is easy, quick, and affordable. And best of all, it reduces the chances of forever losing your pets.

Is Microchipping Painful for My Cat?

There is very little pain associated with microchipping cats and kittens. Your cat will feel a short, sharp sensation for a second as the syringe is inserted, similar to a vaccination. 

Since this can startle a cat or kitten, it may cause the cat to cry out or struggle, which can be concerning for owners. Rest assured this is only minor discomfort and there is no lasting pain caused by microchipping a cat. The benefits to your cat’s wellbeing far outweigh the downsides of microchipping.

Does Cat Microchipping Have Any Side Effects?

Mild itching and swelling can occur in the injection site as scar tissue develops around the microchip. This usually subsides within a few days. However, this is uncommon, and few cats experience side effects from microchipping.

Microchipping your cat is safe, secure, and relatively painless. However, just like any other medical procedure, there is a possibility of your cat experiencing side effects such as swelling or itching, though these are rare occurrences.

Another rare side effect is that the chip can shift to another location with the cat’s body, also known as ‘microchip migration’. This usually happens when the connective tissue doesn’t heal properly around the implant. While this isn’t serious, you will need to get a new microchip implanted, as the microchip migration will cause the original microchip to be difficult for vets to scan.

There are rumours that another side effect of microchipping your cat is that it can promote the growth of tumours. However, there is no evidence linking microchipping and tumours, despite extensive testing.

How Much Does Cat Microchipping Cost in WA?

According to the Australian Veterinary Association, the average cost of microchipping a cat is around $60 to $80. This is a one-time purchase and is well worth the investment when considering the long-term safety of your cat. 

The cost of cat microchipping is one of the most affordable parts of owning a cat compared to other ongoing expenses. Depending on your council, you may have to register your pet, which can cost anywhere from $23 to $200. Other minor incidentals may include your cat’s leash, tag, and engraving service for the registration tags. 

Is Microchipping Covered by Pet Insurance?

In general, cat microchipping is not covered by pet insurance. However, some insurance providers do provide microchipping coverage as an extra.

Usually, these are the main things that are covered with pet insurance:

  • Accidental injuries
  • Certain illnesses
  • Dental illnesses
  • Certain surgical operations
  • Consultation
  • Boarding

In addition to microchipping, the following are often not covered:

  • Pre-existing conditions of your pet
  • Dental care
  • Special daily care
  • Elective treatments

Ask your pet insurance provider if they cover the cost of kitten microchipping. 

Can I Get My Cat Microchipped for Free?

Currently, no service providers in Australia can microchip your cat free of charge without surrendering your cat. However, cat microchipping is relatively affordable compared to other costs involved in pet ownership.

When adopting a cat from an animal rescue, microchipping is typically included in the adoption fee. It’s also a requirement that all cats sold or adopted out in Western Australia are microchipped before ownership is transferred. 

There are options to help subsidise the cost of microchipping for people struggling financially. The RSPCA’s Pet Sterilisation Program may help to subsidise pet microchipping for animals also receiving discounted desexing, depending on individual circumstances.

Cat Microchip Registration in WA

Cat microchip registration is an additional step required when getting your cat microchipped.  After microchipping your cat, your vet will typically register the microchip number in an animal microchip registry and provide you with the certificate. 

The process involves the veterinary staff filling out a form (always indicating the unique chip ID), which is then sent to the national pet database. There are several main databases used in Australia, including Central Animal Records and the Australiasian Animal Registry

Keep the registration certificate in a safe place, as it’s your proof of ownership. Should you decide to sell or let someone adopt your cat or kitten, you can transfer the cat’s registration to the new owner.

Note that this is different from registering your cat with your local council. Microchip registration involves creating an entry in an online database to ensure your contact details are linked with the cat’s microchip number.

How Can I Update My Cat’s Microchip Details?

To update your cat’s microchip details, log in to your account in the registry where you registered your pet cat. Input your pet’s microchip number. You can then update your details and save the changes. 

A microchip that does not have the right or updated contact information is useless. This means you need to update your registration details should you decide to change your contact details, such as your address or phone number.

If changing your information online is impractical, you can always call or email the registry for assistance.

Where Can I Get My Cat Microchipped in WA?

You can have your cat microchipped at vet clinics or animal hospitals in Western Australia. 

Cat microchipping, even if it’s a simple process, requires the expertise of professionals. Only a trained veterinarian can safely microchip your cat. It’s also best to have your cat microchipped at a vet clinic rather than with a mobile vet, since the environment is more hygenic and this can help prevent infection. 

Looking for local cat microchipping in WA? The trusted vets at Paws & More Vet Centre can help you with the process. Get in touch today to book an appointment.

Related Questions

How Do You Tell if a Cat Is Microchipped?

You cannot see a pet microchip, so a vet or animal shelter will need to use a Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) scanner to check if the cat has a microchip. You may be able to feel a microchip if you massage the insertion site, but it’s very difficult due to the size of the microchip.

Can I Microchip My Cat Myself?

No, you cannot microchip a cat yourself. Microchipping requires specific placement with sterilised tools. You cannot purchase a cat microchip or the tools to perform the procedure yourself. If your cat needs microchipping, you should consult a local veterinarian. 

If your cat or kitten needs microchipping in Perth, the team at Paws & More Vet Centre will be able to help you out.

Which Laws Apply to Cat Owners in WA?

Cat owners in WA are required to have their cats microchipped, sterilised and registered with their local government or shire, as well as wear an identifying collar, as per the Cat Act 2011


This article is published in good faith, for general informational and educational purposes only. Paws and More Vet Centre does not make any warranties about the ongoing completeness and reliability of this information. This article should not be used as a substitute for veterinary advice, including for diagnosis or treatment of a pet’s medical condition. Always consult a veterinary professional before making decisions on your pet’s health.