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Rebecca, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 16836
Experience:  Veterinarian for more than 30 years
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After 2yrs of taking in our cat, a stray at the time, we hav

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After 2yrs of taking in our cat, a stray at the time, we hav just found out he is micro chipped. Do we have any rights? Or do we have to return him to his original owners?

Rebecca :


Rebecca :

Great question!

Rebecca :

My name is Rebecca. I am a veterinarian, and will do my best to help.

Rebecca :

This is an area that is very "gray". It is up to you what you think is best.

Rebecca :

I can only tell you what I would do in this situation. I have my dog and cats microchippped. One of my cats has been missing for over 2 years now, and I can't tell you how overjoyed I would be to find out he is alive, that someone has been taking care of him, and of course I would want him back. It would make me so happy to know that he is not dead, and that he has been cared for and loved.

Rebecca :

So you can put yourself in the shoes of the person who lost Toota, and decided what is best.

Rebecca :

I would trace the chip and find out who it is registered to. There is a good chance that the information will be old, or that the chip was never registered. Often these chips are placed by the animal shelter when a cat is adopted, and the adopter never put it in his name. If you go to the microchip registry, and find it registered to a shelter, then you have made an honest effort and he is yours.

Rebecca :

But, if you find there is a person, and a phone number or address registered to the chip, it is up to you to decide what is best.

Rebecca :

Twice I have had dogs with chips brought in by people who found the dog and wanted to keep it, and both times when I called the person the chip was registered to, they did not want the dog, and the new owners got to keep the dogs, knowing they had made an honest effort to find the first owner.

Rebecca :

As far as I know, there have been no court cases to decide about these things. If you would like to contact a lawyer, you could ask one of the legal experts on this website.

Rebecca :

I am not seeing responses from you. I hope you can see what I am writing. Sometimes there are problems with this live chat, and we can't see what the other is saying.

Rebecca :

I will try another way to connect with you.

I hope you can see what I am writing now.

It really is up to you do decide what to do. If it were me, I would make an honest effort to find the first owner, and begin by looking up the microchip number and see where it leads.

If Toota ever got away from you, and ended up at a shelter, they would track the chip to try to find his owner. It would be good if you could have the chip transferred to your name so if that were to happen, you would be the one contacted. Finding out where the chip is registered, and having it changed to your name would be best. If you find it was never registered, then you can register it in your name, and then you would not have to worry about whether there is another owner or not. If there is another owner, it is up to you to decide whether to contact them.

Let me know what else I can answer, or if you would like to be transferred to a legal expert on this site.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Rebecca


Thankyou for your reply and helpful info.


Toota turned up on our doorstep over 2yrs ago and we only fed him outside until he decided he wanted to come into our home. He fell very ill a short time after that and we took him to our Vets. They were baffled as to what was wrong with him and tested for lots of things including Toxoplasmosis. Toota was unable to use his back legs and appeared to become disabled overnight. To cut a long story short, after much heartache, care from us and our Vet he recovered after 2mnths. We realised then how much we had bonded & decided to keep him. The Vet told us he had been spayed and we should think about getting him chipped at some point. We were very happy and Toota has become central to our family life.

Its only recently we took Toota for his annual booster and to get him chipped, the Vet informed us he was already chipped. We were shocked and so sad.

The Vet then contacted the original owners with our telephone number and in turn they contacted us, hugely relieved.

The original owners have decided they would like Toota back and after 2 years we are hearbroken and just wondered if we have any rights and obviously want whats best for Toota. We feel we should do the right thing and return him although it is a very sad situation.




That is a sad situation! You have done so much for him, and have spent time, and money on him and are emotionally involved with him.

This is a hard situation. Are cats property, can one truly "own" a cat? Can you compare this to a situation as if he were a child, or is Toota an adult who can make up his own mind? Why did he show up seemingly homeless 2 years ago? If the previous caregivers want him back, are they willing to reimburse your costs of his care for the last two years?

I am not a lawyer, and this may be a question for a legal expert. I did some searching on a vets only website and did find some references by legal experts. Few states have any laws regarding microchips, or pet ownership. One lawyers states that microchips actually offer no proof of ownership identity:

“(It’s) just like the fact that my daughter's name written on a sweatshirt doesn't mean it is her sweatshirt. It just means I had the sweatshirt in my hands and I wrote her name on it. A chip with my identity in a dog just means that a marketing company registered a chip in a dog to my name. Nothing more, and nothing less. A vet may have been involved. I may have shown my identity. I may have shown proof that the dog was mine. But then I may have done none of that.”

Hope this helps, and that something can be worked out between you. It sure sounds like the first caregivers of Toota do not have much in the way of legal rights, but that would be up to your state laws and lawyers. It can be questioned why he showed up at your place, how hard did they try to find him, etc.

Let me know what else I can answer, or help with.


Rebecca and other Cat Specialists are ready to help you
Thank you for the great rating.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Hi Rebecca

Thankyou for all your help with our sad situation.
We have decided to give Toota back to his original owners, very reluctantly of course! We have spoken to them and explained how it all happened and in turn they have filled in the blanks as to how he turned up on my doorstep over 2years ago. They are going to collect Toota from our house & with the understanding that he doesn't settle, then we would gladly have him back, day or night! Just to phone us. Realistically I know he will settle, he's an amazing cat and given us some fabulous memories. A place in our hearts forever. To say I am devastated is an understatement but we feel it's the right thing to do.
So, once again, thanku for your comments and you helped us enormously with our decision.

Kind Regards
I know in my head you are doing the right thing, but my heart feels otherwise. How far away do they live? He may show up on your doorstep again, if it is not too far and they let him go outside!

He sounds like a great cat. I am so sorry about your losing him.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
It's funny you should say that Rebecca, I was thinking & hoping the same!! But they live about 9 miles away, across a busy motorway.
We can hope & I will be checking our answer machine messages with fingers crossed, for a very long time!

One things for sure, Toota is one very loved cat, by all of us.
Any update I will definately let you know.

How in the world did he get to you two years ago? Did they live closer then?

I hope they plan on keeping him indoors. Cats have traveled way more than 9 miles to go home, but it sounds like a risky journey.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Well, the owners say he just disappeared from their home early 2011....Toota turned up at our house late 2011!! And the rest is history.

I doubt very much they will be able to keep as an indoor cat, he loves to be outdoors and is sick if we try to keep him him. Tried that once when he was recovering from being ill. He stressed so much, had to accompany him into the garden to do his toilet. I did put a litter tray in our house, but he didn't seem to know what it was. Tried putting some soil in the tray but he still wouldn't use it.

My husband is going to contact the owners in a month or so, to check his progress.
I'll let you know Rebecca
I sure hope he does not try to cross that highway trying to get back to you!

Thanks for the rest of the story.