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casheroo's avatar

Cat questions: Microchip or not? Vaccinate?

Asked by casheroo (18106points) April 29th, 2009

So, we’re moving soon and I’m a little worried about how one of our cats will react.
He does very poorly with change. We already brought him to the new place, and he pooped on me, and in front of everyone. He tends to poop in front of people when angry about something, or when things change. (he did this when we lived someone else, and got made at us for moving…we had him neutered and he behaved after that.)
He also loves to try to run away, and since we live in a duplex, when he runs outside our door, he just goes into the hallway of the house. He likes to be outside, so I take him out on a leash so he can rub around in the grass.
We’re worried he’s going to run away at the new home. Or, could he be trying to escape because we live in a relatively small apartment and he wants more room to run around and explore? He usually runs out of our apartment towards the basement to sniff around. When we move, he’ll have a very large house to be in.
Should be get him microchipped? Is it safe? Are there any complications?

Also, our cats have not gotten their vaccines for at least a year. We’re currently looking for a low cost place to go, since our vet is pretty expensive. But, will our cats be okay if we move in with a dog that is vaccinated? (I know nothing about anything that can be transmitted between species)
btw, the cat in question is turning 3 soon, if that means anything!

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31 Answers

syz's avatar

There are no drawbacks to micro chipping – it’s a largish needle that they use to insert the chip under the skin, but the pets rarely react much at all. Make sure that you register with the chip company. I can’t tell you how many injured animals have been brought into the clinic by Good Samaritans whose owners have gone to the expense of chipping but then don’t register their information. We are completely unable to trace ownership without that information. I don’t recommend a collar with tags because cats can be absolute Houdinis about getting them off. If you do use a collar, make sure it’s a “safety” or break-away collar so he doesn’t strangle himself.

Cats and dogs do not exchange disease except in rare cases (and rabies). The rabies vaccination is required by law and you can usually find low cost clinics through the local shelter. The first rabies vaccine is good for one year, each one after that is good for three years. The other vaccines should be boostered at least every three years (the veterinary community is revamping it’s vaccine protocols.)

While I do not vaccinate my cats for FeLV or FIV, if you’re going to let your cat roam outside, I would strongly recommend that you vaccinate for those disease (feline leukemia and feline immunosuppressive virus). If you cat contracts either of these diseases from an infected cat, there is no cure. Of course, declawed cats should be kept strictly indoors for their own safety.

casheroo's avatar

@syz Do cats need a rabies shot each year?
And thank you for the info on microchipping. I feel badly doing it to this cat, because he is our only cat that is declawed and he really hates going to the vet or travelling at all. He gets very scared in the car :(

BBSDTfamily's avatar

You can skip the microchipping if you give him a collar with a tag that gives your phone number so that he can be identified and returned to you if he does run away. Animals usually need about 2 weeks to get their “center” back and feel at home in a new location (that’s been my experience, and many of my friend’s experience…. I’m in a lot of pet chat rooms). It sounds like he wants to roam, and that can be lessened by having him neutered. PLEASE have him neutered if he is not already, especially if you are thinking about turning him loose outside at any time. I would definitely get him vaccinated, and definitely give him monthly heartworm prevention if you are in an area that has heartworms.

casheroo's avatar

@BBSDTfamily He is already neutered :) And we don’t want him to be an outdoor cat at all, we got him at 6 weeks old, and he was an outdoor cat..but he’s been indoors ever since, and now he’s three years old. I’m worried about just a collar, because this cat can take his own collar off (we can’t figure out how, and we’ve tried multiple types of collars. harnesses seem to work, but they never fit him properly)

AstroChuck's avatar

@casheroo- Rabies vaccine is given every two years. (or is it three?) Anyway, it’s not annually. And I second everything that syz says.

Syz says. Say that three times fast.

casheroo's avatar

@syz thank you for adding more to your answer! We do intend to keep him strictly an indoor cat, the microchipping would be for fear of him getting out on his own. I’m not sure if he’s due for a rabies shot, I know we have a rabies collar thing for him, but we don’t put it on (I have the tag somewhere..) But, I’ll call our vet before we move, just to be sure. Thank you so much.

syz's avatar

Good luck with your move!

Darwin's avatar

What @Syz says. What @Syz says. What @Syz says. (for @Astrochuck)

Also, try restricting him to a small part of the house for a while. That way, the rest of the house might feel like “outside.”

You could also station someone outside the front door equipped with a squirt bottle and “accidentally” let him almost get out. Squirt him each time he gets close to succeeding and eventually he will decide it just isn’t worth it.

casheroo's avatar

@Darwin Yeah, we planned on keeping the cats in the utility room until the move was complete (like a day) then letting them roam in between two bedrooms, then the rest of the house. We’re hoping with how large the house is, and how many windows there are, he’ll forget about wanting to get outside!

Darwin's avatar

He may not ever forget (we have one cat in our 2200 square foot house who insists on trying to make a break for freedom), but if you implement the squirt system before he ever succeeds, he will probably not try again.

casheroo's avatar

Good advice, we’ll keep a squirt bottle at the front and back door. Thanks :)

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Chipping a cat is a good way to go if the cat is going to go outside and it sounds like it eventually will. I’ve had 3 cats in my life and all were chipped. There were no complications. Luckily I never had to call upon the chip technology to locate a lost pet but it’s good to have.

Pet vaccinations are always a good idea. You can go to many local pet stores and they will often have schedules for low cost vaccinations. Do some online research before you take you pet for vaccinations to make sure the place administering the vaccinations is reputable.

tinyfaery's avatar

Only 2 out of 5 of my cats are chipped, and that’s because L.A. animal control does it when you adopt. I’ve heard that microchipping isn’t that effective because there are many kinds of chips and scanners, and not all scanners will read all chips.

I have moved several times with my cats, and I don’t think any cat is happy about change. During a move you must be diligent and follow the lead of your cat. Start by putting him in one room. When he acclimated, allow him access to other rooms. Never leave your doors open, and use the squirt bottle to deter him from approaching outside doors.

This might be a good time to try to rid your cat of unwanted behaviors. New enviorment, new rules.

tinyfaery's avatar

Oh, and I do not vaccinate my cats. They are strictly indoor, and neither I or my vet see a reason for it.

YARNLADY's avatar

Yes, chip and vaccinate. When you take your cat outside for a walk, they can pick up anything that whatever, or whoever left on the ground (germs, bacteria, virus). I’ve even heard you should wash their feet before you let them in. I use a towel.

@tinyfaery Ask your vet about the possibility that other people could bring harmful things in on their feet or such. Mine insists on vaccinations for all pets, period.

casheroo's avatar

@tinyfaery My vet is the same way, well he was with the cats I had growing up…they lived very long lives and never got outside unless we tied them up (on a dog leash..) I figured we could do the same with the cats we have now, but since we haven’t settled in one home, I figure it’d be a good thing to continue to vax them until we’re staying in one spot. (Not sure where my logic comes from, it’s just what I always thought was right.)

tinyfaery's avatar

@yarnlady There you go again, trusting the “experts”. Saying people might bring in stuff on their shoes is like saying a rabid racoon might break into my house—probably not going to happen. Plus, my boy cat had an allergic reaction to a rabies vaccine and almost died. I’m never doing that again.

YARNLADY's avatar

@tinyfaery Well, if you don’t want to ask your vet, then don’t. I am always more than willing to trust people who know more about some things than I do, and I take advice from others under consideration. I feel sorry for people who never trust anyone, their life must be very sad.

Darwin's avatar

I trust my vet and do what he advises. As a result my animals all seem to live unusually long and healthy lives. Most of my cats eventually fade away in their late teens or early twenties. Our oldest dog right now is 16 yo and she still seems to be doing well. They all get the various routine vaccines when the vet says it is time.

One of my cats had an allergic reaction to the rabies vaccine, too. However, we live in a rabies zone and so legally we must vaccinate (and there are opportunities for my cats to interact every now and then with possible carriers), so the answer turned out to be giving her 1/2 of a Benedryl tablet 30 minutes before the vet appointment. Worked like a charm.

There is a reason that vets spend all those years in vet school, you know.

tinyfaery's avatar

Umm…my vet says it’s okay NOT to vaccinate. If you are worried about people dragging stuff in on their shoes may I suggest a giant bubble for you? If my cat dies for some ridiculous reason then so be it. I’m not going to waste my time trying to stop the inevitable.

And who are you to say anyone’s life is sad?

knitfroggy's avatar

I don’t vaccinate my kitties because they don’t go outside-if they did go outside tho I would vaccinate them. If you’re scared he’s going to run away you should get him microchipped tho. We moved from a bigger house to a smaller house and our one cat stayed out in the sun porch away from everyone most of the time. When we moved into a bigger hose, he went back to his normal self and was social again-so maybe that is why your cat tries to get out. My mom thinks it’s evil to not let your cats outside, but I am too scared mine will get spooked and take off, so they are strictly housecats.

YARNLADY's avatar

@tinyfaery Who do I have to be to say I think someone’s life is sad?

tinyfaery's avatar

The person who’s life you are calling sad.

YARNLADY's avatar

@tinyfaery—I am not one of those ‘walk a mile in someones shoes’ kind of people. I can understand that other people have feelings even if I have never met them and know next to nothing about them. I believe in empathy.

tinyfaery's avatar

I have no idea how that applies to what was being said, but good for you.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

Definitely vaccinate and microchip. If your cat is outdoors a lot, collars are not a reliable form of identification (they can often break off). Microchipping, on the other hand, is VERY reliable. And as @syz said, make sure you register them! Otherwise you’re just wasting your money.

As far as vaccinating goes, your outdoor cat could contract a number of illnesses from the wild outdoors. I recommend vaccination as a precaution (FIV and feline leukemia are especially nasty – you really don’t want your cat getting those!), but some are more important than others. I would ask your vet to honestly give their opinion on which vaccines are the most important to get, especially if you can’t afford all of them.

I have heard of places that go around and give free neutering/spaying to low-income families with animals. There might be something like that for vaccinations, too. I would do some research and see if something like that exists in your area.

WestRiverrat's avatar

In most states a cat has to have annual vaccines for rabies. My vet says cats probably only need to be vaccinated every other year, but doing it every year can save you a lot of money if your cat bites someone.

To help your cat with the transition to the new house, fry some chicken livers to fill the house with a welcoming smell, feeding him some of the liver won’t hurt either, Put down a familiar blanket or an old shirt of yours in a closet or nook so he can ‘hide’ and have the scent of home near him. If you do the closet, remember to leave the door open for him.

Coloma's avatar

My new cat is microchipped as an adoptee from my local shelter, my old guy is not.

In my area ( rural ranch estate properties ) I vaccinate for rabies annually because of the exposure factor of the abundant wildlife. The other vaccines are every 3 years.

I am not sure the microchip is all that valuable out here, usually if a cat disappears it’s a coyote kill and not simply lost, although that can happen.

My old guy hangs around the house so not too worried about him,( 14 yrs. and counting as a country kitty )
The new girl will not be allowed out for quite awhile, but she is ultra mellow and is not very curious about the great outdoors, yet.

Dependent on your cats lifestyle I’d say chip him as a city cat and if he’s not exposed to wildlife or other animals you might get away with a once every 3 yr. rabies vaccine.

My vet says there is some school of thoguht that after the initial immunizations and boosters, aside from the rabies, that a cat may be protected for life.

They are also looking at over vaccinating as a possible cause of thyroid conditions that have ramped up in cats over the last 30 yrs. or so.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Coloma microchip only works when they are taken to a facility that has a microchip detector. It can’t find lost cats remotely

Coloma's avatar


Yes, I know..I meant that because of where I live, it seems less likely that someone might actually take them to be scanned because of the rural environment and the liklihood of a predator nabbing them if they are lost in the woods for more than a short time.

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