I finally registered Fuzzy George’s microchip today. He was microchipped months ago when I first brought him home, this is one cat who I don’t trust to not run out of the house. His chip wouldn’t have done much good though, since he wasn’t registered. Registering your cat or dog’s microchip means that you put in their details-name, species, breed, maybe even color- and you put in your contact information so the company knows who to call if your cat or dog is lost. Without registering your pet’s microchip the microchip company only knows who they sold the chip to- that might be your veterinarian or it might be a local shelter. Either way it does not directly link your pet with you.
I wasn’t as concerned as perhaps I should have been. Fuzzy George was chipped at the veterinary clinic I work at, so his chip would trace back to there. Since I work there, everyone at work would instantly know if my cat was missing and be able to inform Home Again is they called to find information about his chip.
Microchipping is when you have a tiny microchip inserted under your cat or dog’s skin. It is a relatively painless procedure (just a needle prick). If your pet gets lost a microchip is the best change of your friend making it home. Any vet’s office or animal shelter can scan your pet if they are found. Shelters in Chicago are required to scan for microchips and attempt to contact the person the chip is registered to. Unfortunately a microchip does not work like a GPS device, so it can’t tell you where your missing pet is. It only helps if the pet is taken in and scanned at a shelter or vet’s office. Still, the ASPCA estimates that 710,000 dogs and cats were reclaimed by their owners versus 649,000 in 2011. This is in part due to an increasing number of pets having microchips. I can’t tell you the number of found cats who are brought into the clinic I work at to be scanned for a microchip. Only one or two have actually been reunited with their owners thanks to microchipping.
I have heard so many stories of cats and dogs being found and reunited with their families because of microchips. Some of them are quick reunions, while others happen years after the pet goes missing. Here’s a story of a little dog who was reunited with her family three years later! I recently heard of a cat who was found in Chicago and her microchip lead back to her family in Washington D.C.! When I worked at the shelter, we received several calls of found cats who were chipped to us. Some of them were lost cats whose adopters never updated their information, meaning the cat’s chip was still registered to the shelter. Because we had the owner’s proper contact information we were able to reunite cats and owners. One of those cats was found in Seattle. No one, including her adopter, knows how she got there.
You should microchip your cat even if he doesn’t go outside. Your cat could get lost if there is ever an emergency such as a fire or natural disaster. There is also the risk of cats getting out of the house during parties (all that opening and closing of doors) or if you move. And of course, cats being cats, you never know when someone might decide to run out the door after a squirrel or another cat. I will never forget the day that Crash, a perfectly contented house cat, ran out the front door. I opened the door to get the mail and he noticed the neighbor’s cat in the front yard. My old man darted out the door faster than I could react. Thankfully for both of us he was old and slow and I was able to quickly direct him back inside. That was when I decided they were all getting microchipped.
Even my feral cats are microchipped. It is part of the law in Cook County that feral cats be chipped. The idea being that if they are ever picked up by animal control they can be reunited with their colony and caretaker. I have heard mixed results with this, but that is a post for another time.
If your cat or dog is already microchipped, make sure the vet checks the chip at your yearly visit. You want to make sure the chip hasn’t migrated (making it difficult for rescuers to find) and that the chip still works. It is also important to keep your information up to-date. If your pet is registered with an out of date phone number, you will never get the call that Fluffy was found. If you don’t remember what company your pet’s microchip is through (there are several) a simple scan at your next vet visit can tell you.