What’s the best thing you could do for your cat who might wander around this summer? Microchip.
Of course, all dogs should be microchipped, too. In my practice, however, we have a lot more missing cats than dogs. We’ve been able to reunite quite a lot of them with their families. Microchipping is a simple and economical insurance policy.
Here’s a recent story as an example. An elderly woman with mild memory loss brought in “her new young cat” — who was toothless and had been around the block a few times. She wanted him neutered.
“How long have you had Fredo?” I asked.
“He’s been hanging around about 4 months,” she said. “He needs to be fixed.”
I explained to the cat that I would have to get a bit personal and look for his testicles. Not there. Fredo had lost them, along with his teeth, quite some time ago. It was clear that Fredo was neither feral nor a fighting street cat. I asked the woman — let’s call her Mrs. Newhome — if she had tried to find Fredo’s original family. Put up a sign? Checked with the local shelters?
“I think so,” she replied. Not very convincing.
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Fredo’s exam was complete. Except for being about 12 years this side of a “kitten,” he had a clean bill of health. Also clean bill of testicles. She updated his vaccines, and it was apparent she was dedicated to this nice older cat.
“Would you mind if we checked for a microchip?” I asked.
“Sure. What’s a microchip?”
I explained to her that if Fredo had a microchip, we might be able to find out if he belonged to someone.
“Go ahead,” she said. “But this is a farm cat. Nobody wants him but me.”
The Old World, and the New
Lo and behold, Fredo had a microchip. Could we reunite him with his original folks? And how would that go?
We called the microchip company. Easy as pie. Fredo had been registered. The microchip company gave us the info on Fredo’s original home immediately. We called the phone number. A man picked up.
“You found Whitey? Are you kidding me? He’s been gone for almost a year!”
Turns out the toothless wandering kitty had traveled about 8 miles and over what we locals call “the Notch,” a major passageway between a pair of mountains.
“I’d love to have Whitey back,” said the man — let’s call him Mr. Oldhome. Then there was a long pause.
“You know what the worst thing was?” he said. “I never knew what happened to him. I kept looking. And looking. And I was afraid I’d find him dead somewhere. I had some visions of… Well, I’m just so glad he’s safe.”
We exchanged phone numbers with Mr. Oldhome and Mrs. Newhome. Let them engage in Fredo’s custody battle. Let’s hope this can be settled out of family cat court.
I liked that his old name was Whitey and his new name was Fredo. To me, the story is as comforting as a big bowl of white pasta. Fredoccine Alfredo has found his way home.
In this video, Steve Dale and Dr. Shelly Rubin, DVM, talk about how important it is to microchip cats:
If a tragic end has come to your cat and you find out about it, you might feel inconsolable, sad, all those desperate emotions. But at least you know what happened.
When you’re faced with a missing pet, the unknown factor can be the most nightmarish of all. There’s no closure. At 4 a.m., you just keep wondering if you hear him outside. Then you become despondent all over again.
So get your pets microchipped for that extra help if they go missing. It’s not an end-all-be-all solution. But if we can have a happy ending every once in a while, it’s worth it.
Now everyone knows where Whitey Alfredo is. He might not stray again — but if he does, he has a microchip.