Animal shelters and veterinary professionals have an essential part to play in ensuring microchips save cats’ lives. Quickly scanning cats for microchips when they enter shelters or are brought to a veterinary clinic increases the chance of reuniting them with their human families indoors or cat families outdoors.

However, a microchip can’t save a life and reunite a family unless somebody scans for it.

Scan for a Microchip Immediately.

Alley Cat Allies urges veterinary professionals, animal shelter staff, and animal control officers to always scan a cat for a microchip immediately, the moment she enters their care. The quicker the action, the faster the reunion and the more likely a life is saved.

Many top animal organizations support microchipping and scanning, including The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Please encourage clients and community members to have every cat they care for microchipped. Make sure people understand that they must keep their contact information in a microchip registry up to date. Collect the person’s information and complete the registration process for them at the time of microchip implantation.

Direct people to our Microchips Save Lives webpage for more information.

How to Scan a Cat for a Microchip

The first and most important step: Scan a cat for a microchip the moment she is brought to you. Don’t wait.

Alley Cat Allies’ How to Scan Indoor and Community Cats for Microchips guide is a dive into the details and techniques of utilizing a microchip scanner.

Remember to always have a universal scanner on hand. Other scanners may only detect one of the three microchip frequencies (125kHz, 128 kHz, and 134.2 kHz).

Plan to Scan® in a Veterinary Office

If you are a veterinary professional, doing a quick scan of each new patient in your practice can help ensure a lost cat returns home. Explore Alley Cat Allies’ Sample Veterinary Protocols: Microchipping and Scanning.

Scan every new indoor cat patient for a microchip. If the cat is not microchipped, encourage your client to have her microchipped during the same visit. Be sure to also remind the client to register their contact information with a microchip registry and keep it up to date.

If you know a cat is microchipped, a quick scan can make sure the chip is working properly.

Scan every community cat brought to you. If she is microchipped, you can help return her to her outdoor home. If she is not, encourage the person who brought her in to practice Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) and have her microchipped as part of the initiative.

Scan a microchipped cat before each step of a procedure. With this policy, you’ll always know you’re handling the right patient.

Microchip community cats during TNR. Alongside spaying and neutering, vaccinating, and eartipping, microchip community cats and ask their caregiver to register their information with a microchip registry.

Make every reasonable effort to contact the person registered to the microchip. Especially before making a major care or life or death decision about a cat. Do so immediately and with the most efficient method possible and make multiple efforts if needed. If the person who brought the animal in is not the person registered to the microchip, make care decisions with the person who IS registered.

Consider hosting a no-cost or low-cost microchipping clinic. By making microchip services accessible and affordable, you improve your community and save more cats’ lives.

Plan to Scan in an Animal Shelter

Alley Cat Allies supports policies that make immediate microchip scanning mandatory in animal shelters. This practice ensures a microchipped cat does not remain in the shelter for an hour longer than she has to.

The moment a cat or dog is impounded, scan them for a microchip. Review Alley Cat Allies’ Sample Shelter Protocols: Animal Intake and Scanning Procedures.

Make every reasonable effort to contact the person registered to the microchip. Do so immediately and with the most efficient method possible, and make multiple efforts if needed. By moving cats out of the shelter as quickly as possible, their lives, valuable resources, and taxpayer dollars are saved.

Microchip adoptable animals. Get the ball rolling. Microchip every animal you plan to adopt out and ask the adopter to register the chip with their contact information.

Plan to Scan in the Field

Animal control officers should keep a universal scanner on hand in their vehicles so they can quickly scan any friendly stray cat they come across. Through this method, they will know if a cat is already where she belongs, if she needs to be brought back to her indoor home, or if she should be referred to a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program.

Looking Up a Microchip

To look up which registry an animal’s microchip is registered under, go to American Animal Hospital Association’s Universal Pet Microchip Lookup.

Once you’ve found the registry, call or go to its website to find contact information for the animal’s owner.

If the microchip is not registered to anyone, or if the information is not current, call the microchip manufacturer to ask to whom the chip was sold. This can provide a starting point to track down an owner. Even the most caring people may forget to update their contact information.

Educate Your Community with Alley Cat Allies’ Resources

If owners, caregivers, animal shelters, and veterinary staff all work together, microchips can protect countless more cats. Please share the knowledge: