Posted by Kathy Crewther @kat_crewz
Earlier this week, a Taranaki Regional Council hearings committee recommended that feral cats be defined as cats which are “unowned, unsocialised, and have no relationship with or dependence on humans” (Taranaki Regional Council, 2017). This will please some cat lovers since submissions had been made to define a feral cat as “any cat without a microchip, collar, or harness” with some owners fearing that this could equate to a ‘licence to kill’ their wandering, microchip-free pet moggie. But it does raise the question: Why haven’t you microchipped your cat?
According to the New Zealand Companion Animal Council, 44% of NZ households have a pet cat compared to 28% with dogs, making cats the most popular pet in the country. However, while 71% of dog owners had microchipped their pet, only 31% of cat owners had done so (New Zealand Companion Animal Council Inc., 2016).
Every day, websites like petsonthenet.co.nz and neighbourly.co.nz have listings of anxious owners desperate to find their missing cats and – yes – some of them are microchipped. However, the chances of being reunited with your furry family member are much higher if people know how to find you. This means not only microchipping your cat, but also making sure you keep your contact details up to date after you register the microchip.
I have had two recent experiences which illustrate the value of the microchip. Earlier in the year, one of my colleagues took in a distressed cat that looked like he had been wandering for some time. When she took him to the vet to check for a microchip, she discovered that the cat had been missing for 5 months and had somehow found his way from Botany to Takapuna! Thanks to an up-to-date microchip registration, kitty was reunited with a very happy and grateful owner.
When a cat I had never seen before turned up repeatedly on my doorstep, the lack of a microchip did not mean a death sentence for this fluffy wanderer, but it did mean I was unable to reunite her with her owners, despite placing listings on various websites. Instead, Dorey (as she is now known) was able to be re-homed with a very caring family and no longer shows any desire to wander.
Moral of the story: microchipping is there to help protect your beloved pets and to ensure that, in the event they go missing, you are reunited with them as quickly as possible. And, at around $45-80, microchipping is one of the most affordable aspects of pet ownership. So, please, if you haven’t already done it – microchip your cat.
Kathy Crewther is a PhD candidate in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland. She is investigating the management of domestic cats and their impact on urban wildlife.
Decision Report of Council in respect of submissions to the Proposed Regional Pest Management Plan and Taranaki Regional Council Biosecurity Strategy, Document number: 1952447. (October 31, 2017). Retrieved November 2, 2017, from https://www.trc.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Plans-policies/PestPlanReview/RPMP-TBS-DecisionReport2017-web.pdf
New Zealand Companion Animal Council Inc. (2016). Companion Animals in New Zealand 2016. Auckland, New Zealand.