Our group recently got a box of free microchips from HomeAgain. Kate and I injected chips into two ferals. She had me try the second one but I didn’t get it in. Yesterday Deb helped me inject a chip into another feral. Success.
All shelters put microchips into cats they adopt out. All shelters also scan stray pets for chips. The chips have a number. The number leads back to the chip company which keeps a record of pet owners. This is a great system, in theory. In practice there are a few flaws.
- All too often the contact information is out of date
- There are different chip technologys in use and some older scanners will not recognize all chips
- There are multiple companies registering chip numbers
But overall it does work. Last month the clinic found a chip in one of our cats and got her back to her people. She had been lost for 3 months.
You can make it work better by:
- Registering with the company that made the chip. Registering with another company may prevent your contact information from being found.
- Updating your contact information when it changes.
Lost dogs usually get picked up with in days. Lost cats can take months to be picked up. We don’t see free roaming dogs in the city but we see lots of free roaming cats, many without collars. Most are from a nearby house and are not lost. Some are lost. It is just hard to tell which is which. Here are some things you can do to help get lost cats back to their homes.
- If you let your cat roam outside put a collar on it. The collar should have your phone and address. The collar will show the cat is owned. The address will let people decide if the cat is lost. The phone number will let them contact you. All cat collars should be escapable in case they get hung up. A good collar costs under $10.
- If you see a cat with a collar check the address. If it is not near call the owners.
- If you see a friendly cat with out a collar, try to find the owner. Ask your neighbors. Put a collar on the cat with a note to call you (this works!). Take it to a vet or shelter to be scanned.
- Scared cats are not always feral. Many lost cats are scared and hide. You can’t distinguish them from feral. If you see a scared cat repeatedly contact a cat rescue group. (The group we work with, Alley Cat Project, covers Seattle).
You can consider any cat whose owner can’t be found through these methods to be unowned. If they are friendly it is time to find them a new home.
Steps 3 and 4 are not easy, which is why so few lost cats without collars are returned to their owners and those that are can take months. If you do take the time to help un-collard cats you see you may help neuter a feral, find a friendly cat a good home, or return a lost cat to their owners.