Microchips and Moe

Last spring, our friends at St Louis Feral Cat Outreach were conducting a routine TNR (trap neuter return) event when they caught an unusually friendly cat. Generally, the cats STLFCO deals with are totally feral – meaning they thrive in their outdoor homes with their loving caretakers. In some instances, usually a handful every event, cats are so friendly they need to go to rescue to find homes.

Moe was one such cat. We’d already “tagged” him as an APA cat and were planning to bring him to our shelter when the vet staff found he was already neutered. And what luck: he had a microchip. Unfortunately the chip was unregistered – meaning all we knew was that it had been sold to the Humane Society. An APA staff member helped Feral Cat Outreach trace the chip and called the Humane Society. The Humane Society worked with the APA and supplied an owner phone number.

Another APA staff member called Moe’s house. “Hello, I’m looking for Mr. J?” she asked. At first the family was a little nervous. Why was this strange woman calling?

When Mr. J came on the phone, the staff member explained they had a black cat here with a microchip tracing back to this phone number. “Would you like to claim him?” she asked.

The man was overjoyed! Moe had been missing for nearly 8 months!

This made sense to Feral Cat Outreach because a very active colony caretaker, Linda, had been watching Moe for some time. She felt Moe needed an indoor home, but wasn’t sure where to take him. When the opportunity to bring Moe in for the spring TNR clinic presented itself, Linda jumped at the chance.

The APA staff member was so excited and relieved to hear Mr. J’s happy voice. “Thank you so much,” he said. Mr. J shouted to the rest of his family, “They found Moe! They found my son!”

Moe now lives a strictly indoor life with his happy family. This reunion never would have happened – except that Moe’s family made the smart choice to microchip him.

Microchips work by implanting a barcode about the size of a grain of rice between your animal’s shoulder blades. When specialized chip readers pass over the barcode, information pops up in a database.  Make sure that the company that issued your microchip has your most current information. It is important that you register the microchip in your name – not just the shelter name where you got your pet.

If you aren’t sure if your animal’s chip is up to date, many pet stores and all veterinarians can scan your pet for a microchip and you can call the chip database yourself to update the information. There is sometimes a fee for updating microchips – usually about $20. If your pet goes missing, you can put a “flag” on the chip to alert anyone who finds your pet that you are looking for them. Placing a flag on the chip is free.

Microchip prices vary from vet to vet, but here at the APA we can implant a chip for $30. This includes the registration fee. If you adopted your pet from the APA, we registered the chip automatically for free. Many rescues do not do the registration for free or automatically so make sure that you follow up with your chip company and confirm your most recent contact information is assigned to the chip.

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