Barry, a 3-year-old indoor cat, escaped from his family’s Delaware house in mid-July. Four days later, his owners got a call that he was 60 miles away in Pennsylvania, according to a news report.

After the feline was found, he was brought to a veterinary hospital and scanned for a microchip, which had the contact information for his owners. Thanks to the microchip, Barry was reunited with his family.

Stories like this, with heartwarming happy endings, are a reminder about the importance of microchips for both owned and community cats as we celebrate National Check the Chip Day on August 15. Our Plan to Scan campaign highlights this vital and responsible effort year-round.

Across the pond, a cat in the United Kingdom recently went home after four long years. His microchip was praised for bringing the lost cat to his family. Likewise, a feline from Oregon traveled 3,500 miles to Montana before he was scanned for a microchip and reunited with his owner.

Studies show that microchipped cats are over 20 times more likely to be returned to their families than cats who aren’t microchipped. Getting cats home is critical, since 70 percent of all cats—and nearly 100 percent of community cats—who enter shelters nationwide are killed.

Here’s how it works: Veterinarians implant a microchip in the cat, which serves as a permanent ID tag. The microchip is registered with the owner’s information, so shelter staff or veterinarians will know who to contact if the cat gets lost and brought to them.

Microchips also help reunite community cats with their colonies. Community cats can be microchipped with their caregivers’ information. If animal control officers pick up a community cat or someone erroneously brings one to the shelter, the cat can be scanned for a microchip and the caregiver can be contacted to return the cat to her colony.

In fact, scanning for microchips can prevent community cats from going to the shelter at all. If animal control officers scan cats in the field, they can see that community cats belong where they are and won’t waste time or resources taking them to the shelter.

Here’s what you need to know to save lives:

  • Animal control officers and animal shelter employees: Plan to scan for microchips as soon as you take in an animal. This will get cats home quickly and easily. To help out, we have sample shelter protocols for microchip scanning and a guide about how to scan a cat for a microchip.
  • Veterinarians: Be sure to scan any stray cat brought to your office! View our sample veterinary protocols about scanning for microchips. And remember, even if a community cat seems feral, scan her! More and more community cats are getting microchipped. Encourage your clients to get their pets microchipped.
  • Pet owners and community cat caregivers: Make sure your animals are microchipped, and make sure your microchip is registered with up-to-date contact information! Microchips do no good if they aren’t registered.

Barry and the other felines found their way home not only because they had microchips, but because the veterinarians or shelter staff in each case made sure to scan for one. On this National Check the Chip Day, plan to scan for microchips. It reunites families and saves lives.