How Much Does It Cost to Microchip a Cat?

Pet care & safety
A cat getting checked at the vet as they get ready for to get microchipped

Our greatest fear as pet parents might be the notion that a beloved household member could go missing. It’s estimated that 10 million pets end up lost every year, and it can happen in a matter of seconds. There’s an immediate sense of panic and hopelessness, and the first question on every pet owners mind is “How will I ever find them?” 

Importance of Microchipping your Cat 

A lost dog with a microchip is 2.5 times more likely to be returned to their owner, and cats a shocking 20 times more likely. These statistics support the idea of microchipping your pets – cat or dog – whether they’re allowed outside or not. 

When pets go missing, identification tools can augment your search effort, even the friendliest cat breeds can be hard to reunite with their owners without some form of ID. A collar with identification tags is a great first line of defense, giving potential finders an easy way to contact you. QR pet Tags give anyone with a smartphone an effortless way to reach you when your pet is found. 

While ID tags are great external identifiers, microchipping both dogs and cats provides a permanent and reliable form of ID that can’t be removed or lost. When an unfamiliar pet is found, many people’s first instinct is to take the animal to a local shelter or veterinary hospital where thankfully, it’s standard practice to use a universal scanner to look for a microchip, and then contact the pet’s owner. 

What is a Cat Microchip? 

Pet microchips are small rice-grain sized RFID chips (radiofrequency identification) that are implanted under the skin. Veterinary professionals insert them with ease using a specialized needle; there is some discomfort on implantation, but the chip can be safely injected just like any vaccine or other injection. 

Microchips in cats give them permanent identification that is linked to your contact information – veterinary and shelter professionals can scan the microchip, use the ID number to look up your information in a database, and reach out to let you know your pet has been found. 

How to Microchip a Cat 

Cats can be safely microchipped while awake, but many vet offices also offer the option for it to be implanted while the pet is anesthetized for spay or neuter surgery when they’re about 6 months of age. 

A vet holding a cat to insert the microchip

A veterinary professional first scans the sterile-packaged chip to make sure it reads correctly, then an assistant gently holds your cat. The specialized needle is removed from its sterile packaging and then inserted into the skin just above or behind the shoulder blades. The microchip slides in easily, the needle is removed, and the chip remains in place for your cat’s entire life! 

Once the microchip is implanted (and scanned again to be sure it’s still working) you’ll fill out forms with your contact information, and your pet’s information will be registered with the company. This contact information is how you’ll be reached when your lost pet is found, so be sure to update it every time your phone number, address, or name are changed. 

How Much Does it Cost to Microchip A Cat? 

There are numerous pet microchip providers but on average, the cost of the microchip and then implanting it averages $50 - $70. Because the same microchips can be used for both species, the microchip cost for dogs is similar. 

The overall expense depends on the veterinary clinic implanting it and the microchip provider they use. If implanted as part of another regular visit with vaccines or other routine healthcare, you likely won’t need to pay for an additional office visit. 

Some microchip providers offer subscription-based membership services in addition to registration, that not only maintains your contact information (this service is usually free) but also offer an outreach network, and premium services like creating “Lost Pet” ads for print or social media. 

Animals adopted from a shelter or sanctuary might already be microchipped, so if you’re doing research to find your next best friend, consider asking the shelter if their adoptable pets are microchipped! 

The Importance of Registering and Updating Microchip Information 

Microchipping is important for a multitude of reasons, but maintaining the microchip registration is what makes microchipping worthwhile. The ID number that can be scanned off the microchip is really just the first step in identifying  your cat if they’re found; that microchip ID must be associated with a cat owner’s registration in the microchip company’s database. If it’s not, the number exists but nobody will know who to contact if they find your lost cat. 

Keeping registration information up-to-date is also essential. If you’ve changed names it may be difficult to verify ownership. Worse, if phone numbers and/or addresses are changed but not updated with the microchip provider, then the people who find your cat won’t be able to contact you. 

When your microchip registration is kept up to date, the chance you’ll be reunited with your pet quickly after their microchip is scanned increases exponentially. 

Additional Benefits of Microchipping your Cat 

While most cat owners decide to microchip their cats as a safety precaution, there may be other benefits for owners of microchipped cats. 

  • If your pet travels internationally, some countries require a form of permanent identification such as an implanted microchip so the animal’s origin and ownership are traceable. 

  • In multi-pet house holds, especially those with a feline occupant on a specialized diet, you can take advantage of microchip-activated feeders that nearly guarantee each cat gets only the food they’re entitled to. 

  • For cats that need access to outdoor spaces or certain areas of the home where other animals aren’t allowed, you can use a microchip-activated pet door to give them free access, without having to open and close those doors yourself 

A cat resting on a bed after getting a microchip inserted

Other Ways to Keep Track of Your Cat in Addition to Microchipping

 While microchipping is a great form of permanent identification, external ID is a great supplement. High-tech options include QR pet tags or GPS collar trackers. Low-tech and easy to access options include traditional collar tags, or even slide-on pet tags (these loop over the collar so there are no dangling parts), both of which can be customized with owner and pet names and contact information. 

Conclusion: The Cost to Microchip your Cat is Worth it 

When a pet goes missing, its natural to worry and wonder what can be done. Before your pet gets lost, there are a few preventive steps you can take that can help aid in recovery your beloved lost cat. One of those is microchipping, which is known to dramatically increase the chance that lost cats and dogs are reunited with their owners. 

The up front cost of microchipping is less than the average cost for an exam and vaccines, but to help with cat and dog microchip cost, pet routine wellness plans may be able to help. Paired with cat pet insurance, a wellness plan gives pet owners the opportunity for reimbursement of everyday pet healthcare costs, including microchipping.  

Microchipping your cat is a small act of love that can make a big difference. It's a way to show your furry friend just how much you care, and it can give you peace of mind knowing that you've done everything you can to protect them.