11 recommendations on scanning a cat for a microchip

Here are 11 recommendations for microchip scanning of domestic, stray and community (feral) cats. The illustration shows a recommended scanning pattern to ensure that the chip is not missed.

Scanning a cat for microchip
Scanning a cat for microchip. Image: MikeB. The idea is to ensure that the entire cat is scanned if needs be. It is likely that all this scanning is not needed as the chip will be picked up early in the scanning process when starting where it was implanted between the shoulder blades.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats
  1. Alley Cat Allies have a nice quiz on Twitter about scanning for a cat microchip and they ask whether you should scan the sides, between the shoulder blades, the base of the cat’s tail or all over the body. The answer is the last option because microchips move. Although they are inserted between the shoulder blades, and you are likely to bump into it sooner rather than later which would preclude the need for a full body scan ??.
  2. This well-known rescue also assists us on how to scan a cat and the first thing to do is to check that the scanning device works by scanning a microchip that you have nearby and that you know functions (if available).
  3. You should follow an ‘S’ scanning pattern to ensure that you cover the entire body including the legs as shown in the diagram prepared by me and based upon Alley Cat Allies’ version.
  4. Scanning should be done slowly at a speed of about 6 inches per second.
  5. The entire cat should take upwards of 20 seconds to scan although of course you might quickly detect the microchip when starting where it was inserted.
  6. You begin scanning at the shoulder blades where the microchip has been implanted because that is where it is likely to be, but microchips move which is why you should have in mind the possibility that you’ll need to scan the whole cat.
  7. You should scan both sides of the cat in an ‘S’ shape.
  8. In a veterinary clinic or shelter they advise that a cat should be scanned each time they are moved in order to make sure that you have the right cat.
  9. With respect to community i.e., feral cats, many of them are micro-chipped and they will also have been vaccinated and ear tipped signifying that they have been through a TNR program.
  10. This rescue advise that you scan a community cat inside the trap if they have been trapped using a wand scanner and I presume that this is suggested for the operator’s safety.
  11. They advise that shelter staff scan community cats on the day that they arrive at the shelter to ensure accuracy and to identify the cat’s owner immediately should that be the case. The cat can then be reunited with their caregiver asap.

Microchip scanning: It would have eliminated a lot of heartaches if a cat was scanned immediately

Checking a cat for a microchip at home (and reuniting a lost cat with owner)

Sources for image:

  • The cat images are from: Image by pch.vector on Freepik.
  • The guide for the diagram is from Alley Cat Allies. Thank you.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

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