What a microchip for cats
A new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggests that cats could benefit from having a microchip implanted in their neck.
"There is a lot of information about how microchips can be used for dogs. But there has been little research on how microchips can be used for cats," said study co-author Dr. Jonathan Wilcox, assistant professor of surgery at Washington University.
"We believe that cats might benefit from having this kind of microchip because they are hardier than dogs, they spend more time indoors, they are more independent and they don't need to go in search of food.
"We also think that cats have a higher risk of being lost, either because they are outdoor cats, they are lost in a city or they are lost in a remote area.
"This means that it's more important to have a microchip that can help with their identification if they are lost."
The study was published in the July issue of the journal Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound.
A microchip is a small electronic device that stores information about an animal's identity. It is implanted under the skin of an animal's neck, usually between the shoulder blades.
The study involved more than 150 cats at the Washington University School of Medicine. The cats were spayed and neutered, then randomly assigned to one of two groups.
One group of cats received a microchip, and the other group was implanted with a microchip that was not functional.
The microchips were implanted with wire leads that were connected to a small battery, which was implanted in the cat's abdomen.
The microchips were programmed to detect a signal from a radio frequency identification (RFID) collar that was worn on the cats' necks.
The collars were not functioning, but the cats were still able to receive a low level of stimulation from the microchips.
The study's goal was to see whether the microchips could be used for identification in cats that were lost.
Researchers tested the microchips, or the collar and microchip, in a wide variety of situations.
The cats were lost in a variety of locations and had a variety of health problems that might cause them to be unable to get back to the location where they were being held by their owner.
The study found that the microchips were able to help with identification in all of the situations in which the cats were lost.
In the first six cases, the microchips helped with identification.
In the second six cases, the microchips helped with identification in some cases, but the cats were lost and died of other causes.
One cat that was found alive had a microchip that was not functional, but it was able to be used for identification.
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