Keeping your cat safe

With Lyn Gardener - Swansea Cats Protection

Where’s my cat?

Have you noticed there seem to be lots of cats going missing lately? Or is it just me? Or is it simply that social media make the problem more visible? Before Facebook and other sharing platforms, if your cat went missing you might put up posters or pop notes through doors in the neighbourhood. Now we post it on social media and of course this can be very effective – certainly at Swansea Cats Protection we have facilitated many heartwarming reunions between lost cats and bereft owners. It really does work. But even devoted cat owners can sometimes find it difficult to distinguish one black cat from another, especially from just a few grainy photos on a Facebook post. And you’d be surprised how often a beloved missing cat looks strikingly similar to another cat seen wandering in a garden! So, posting on social media is a good idea when you lose your cat, or find one, but it’s too often not enough.

Microchipping your cat – it’s a must

As in most weeks at Swansea Cats Protection, we were recently contacted via our Helpline by a kind person who noticed a bewildered looking kitten wandering around her neighbourhood. One of our wonderful volunteers called by with an electronic microchip reader and luckily found the kitten was microchipped. The ID number was taken and another diligent volunteer looked this up on the pet microchip databases and sent through the registered owner’s details. Luckily again, the details were fully up to date and the kitten was soon reunited with her anxiously awaiting owner. A happy ending this time. But too often we find the lost cat isn’t micro-chipped or the owner’s details haven’t been up-dated. It’s so frustrating when we discover the owners have moved or their phone number is unobtainable. So, answer honestly now, would you put ‘update contact details with pet microchipping company’ on your to-do list when you move-house, or get a new phone contract?

Sadly, lots and lots of people fail to remember to do this simple and vitally important job.

Why should I microchip my cat?

Once you plan to give a kitten or an older cat a home, making sure they are microchipped should be top of your list. All cats and kittens adopted from Cats Protection are microchipped prior to homing. Microchipping your cat gives them the best chance of being identified and returned to you if they are lost or stolen. And it makes our job as volunteers a lot easier too. Microchips are safe, easy to implant and effective. Unlike collars (a word about those later) and ID tags, microchips don’t come off and they don’t put your cat at risk of injury. If you’ve lost your cat and they’re already microchipped, let your microchipping company know and ensure your contact details are up to date. Then if your lost cat is found and taken to a vet or animal rescue organisation, you’ll be contacted to arrange a happy reunion.

How does microchipping work?

A small chip (around the size of a grain of rice) is inserted under your cat’s skin – usually by a vet. The procedure is quick and generally no more painful to your cat than getting an injection. The microchip gives your cat their own unique code. If your cat was to go missing, the microchip can be scanned with a microchip scanner and matched to your contact details, which are kept on a cat microchip database. In the UK, you can expect to pay anywhere between £20 and £30, depending on where you live. Kittens can be microchipped when they have their vaccinations. It is so important to have your cat microchipped before they go outside for the first time, and of course they must NEVER be allowed out until they are neutered (and ideally vaccinated too) and old enough to face the big wide world…or garden!

Speak to your local vet for details about microchipping or get in touch with your local rescue centre or cat charity. Often charities and reputable cat rescue organisations may be able to microchip your cat for a reduced rate. An example is our joint Swansea Cats Protection/RSPCA £5 neutering and microchipping scheme – further information is on our website. It is important to mention too that if you adopt a cat or kitten from Swansea Cats Protection the cost of microchipping your cat is included in the adoption fee, along with neutering, vet check and being treated for fleas and other parasites. Yet if you buy cats or kittens from unlicensed and often unscrupulous sellers on social media or local adverts, rarely, if ever, are the animals microchipped despite the hefty price tag.

Cat Collars

How useful are cat collars in keeping your cat or kitten safe? Some owners still choose to put collars on their cats, although it was far more commonplace years ago when microchipping wasn’t so readily available. Does your cat wear a collar? Why did you choose to put a collar on your cat or kitten? For identification purposes in case they get lost? To signal to people that ‘this cat is owned’? Or to make your cat or kitten look cute? We can debate and discuss all of these reasons but at Cats Protection we think cats look lovely enough without any embellishments – cats do not need a collar as a fashion statement! There’s some worth in a collar indicating that this cat is owned and can be used to identify a lost cat, but a microchip will usually serve the latter purpose much better. But if you do feel it’s necessary for your cat to wear a collar ensure it has a quick release or snap opening mechanism and NOT an elastic fitting. We have seen truly horrendous injuries where the poor cat has put their leg through the collar and not been able to free itself. Too often these injuries have resulted in the cat sustaining shocking deep wounds which take months of vet treatment to heal. Or worse still, the leg has to be amputated or the poor cat put to sleep because of the injuries. If you still think your cat must wear a collar, in addition to it having a quick release clasp, it must fit properly and be checked regularly, especially on growing kittens. You should be able to comfortably fit two of your fingers underneath the collar and if you can’t, adjust it or buy a bigger collar…and keep checking it.

I hope this short guide to helping keep your cat safe has been useful, and more information can be found on our website along with details of some of the cats we have ready for rehoming.


Looking for loving homes

Lovely young Pebbles – left – is looking for a safe, caring OUTDOOR HOME. She is delightfully friendly and enjoys lots of attention, human company and seems to get on well with other cats. Unfortunately due to an old injury she is slightly incontinent and is therefore not suitable for an indoor domestic life. Pebbles enjoys and is used to the outdoors but
would of course need regular feeding and a warm cosy bed in a safe, secure barn or similar, situated away from main
or dangerous roads.

Cher – right – is a shy young cat looking for a safe, caring OUTDOOR HOME. She has lived as a pet cat but following the loss of her owner she spent a long time living in a garden, and is now more suited to this life. Cher is used to other cats but generally likes to do her own thing. She would need regular feeding and a warm, cosy bed in a safe, secure barn or similar, situated away from main or dangerous roads.

If you are interested in adopting one our cats or kittens please get in touch. IMPORTANT: We are keen to match the right cat to the right home, based on our knowledge of the cat and the information you provide. However, due to the high number of applications we receive we are sorry but are unable to respond to unsuccessful applications.

We can be contacted via our Helpline 0345 260 2101 or email us at swanseacats@hotmail.co.uk. Please note our helpline is answered by a messaging service and we will respond as soon as we can.

Please remember that we are All UNPAID VOLUNTEERS trying to do our best for the rescue cats and kittens of Swansea.

 

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