While I stood on the doorstep and fumbled with my house keys, I jumped when I saw the pair of bright blue eyes staring at me from the bushes in our flowerbed. I knelt down and found that attached to those eyes was a brown and white striped cat quietly curled up in the shade. A snack was all it took to convince him to become acquainted, and after two whole minutes he lazily sprawled out on the porch next to my seat and purred. Despite the absence of a collar his familiarity with humans suggested he had been part of a family before… but his messy fur indicated he probably hadn’t seen them in a long time.
I tricked him into the cat carrier with his snack, and we headed to the vet to check for a microchip. A microchip is nearly the size of a grain of rice and is inserted under the pet’s skin using a needle. Veterinary clinics and animal shelters use scanners to read the chip and find the family’s contact information. A microchip can be implanted during any vet appointment, although many pets are microchipped during their spay or neuter surgeries. Microchipping does not require anesthesia and is not any more painful than receiving a vaccine.
The scan was unsuccessful, so he stayed with me while I began to search for his family in other ways. After posting a photo of him online, I drove around my neighborhood glancing at lamp posts for a “LOST CAT” sign. I found no such signs, and my post only had neighbors commenting that they too had seen him wandering around over the past couple of weeks, but didn’t know who his family was.
After several days of no leads, I began to search for a new permanent home for him. Just before he was re-homed with a friend who was looking to adopt, his original family finally saw my post. They told me that he is in fact a sixteen year old cat who was much too old to be wandering the streets in the Texas heat, and they had been worried sick about him.
It was sheer luck that his family happened to see my post before he was re-homed. We were all thankful that he wasn’t hurt or taken to an animal shelter where he might have been euthanized due to the high number of unwanted pets who arrive every day. With a microchip, these risks would have been reduced and we would have been able help him safely return home much sooner.
Every pet should wear a collar with an identification tag and be microchipped to facilitate finding their family in the event that they are lost. A microchip provides a way to get in touch with their family in case their collar or tags fall off.
For the microchip to be effective, it must be registered and the information also needs to be regularly updated. An unregistered microchip or a microchip with outdated information will not help the pet get home. You can go to the chip manufacturer’s website to register and update the microchip.