Microchips: Reuniting Pets and Owners

Author: Emily Burt, Nursing Team

November 1, 2010

Only 4% of lost cats are reunited with their owners in US shelters, according to the National Council of Pet Population and Study. Shelters and Veterinary hospitals routinely scan strays for microchips.

Cats are often tempted to roam and explore. Even an indoor-only kitty may escape through an unattended door. Collars are certainly one line of defense, but we've all seen a cat deftly remove a collar it didn't want to wear, or even snag it on something and lose the collar. What lets people know that your furry friend has a home and that you are missing him?

Microchips are small devices (roughly the size of a grain of rice) implanted under the skin between the shoulder blades by a simple injection. This device, when read with a scanner, connects a unique identifying number to your animal. With that number, someone can look up your pet in a database and get your contact information. Additionally, most of these databases can hold important medical information regarding your pet, diet preference, and even your regular veterinarians' information.

There are many different brands of microchips and scanner(s) available. Even if a clinic or shelter does not have a "universal" scanner, all scanners will alert the operator to the presence of a microchip. Here at Cats Exclusive, we use ResQ microchips which conform to ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standards and can be read both nationally and internationally.

Microchipping is only one step in the process, however. It is important to have your microchip registered and to keep your contact information up to date. When your animal is microchipped, the clinic will provide you with information on how to register your cat and update your information should you move or need to add health alerts for your pet. Without this information, having a microchip cannot help return your kitty home.

As someone who has placed a call to a distraught owner letting them know that their cat who has been missing for months has been found, I can tell you firsthand how immensely rewarding it is to be part of that reunion. We all want our kitties at home, and microchips can help.