What do you do if a stranger turns up claiming your cat is actually theirs?
That was the situation Brookfield resident Colin Poultney found himself in when a man and his kids came around to get ‘their' cat back.
“They'd put photos up on Facebook after losing their cat about a month before,” says Colin.
“One of the ladies at the neighbouring kindergarten spotted my cat and thought it was their missing cat. She messaged them and said it was in the area and they came over. The guy was pretty sure it was his cat, but his kids said no, the markings were different. But he persisted with it.”
The man returned the next day and tried calling the cat – but puss duly ignored him.
However, it was only when Colin proved ownership by taking his cat to the vet to have its microchip scanned that the man relented.
“After that he sort of apologised and I haven't seen him since.”
Colin's cat was chipped at the same time he was fixed – around six months old. Tauranga Vets senior nurse Nikki Bancroft says it's a simple procedure, and highly recommended for all conscientious cat owners.
“It takes about 10-15 minutes. It's all done while the cats are conscious, they don't need a sedative or anaesthetic. Nine times out 10 they don't even notice us putting it in,” she says.
Each microchip has a unique number associated with it, and although there is no legal requirement to microchip cats in New Zealand, it can help in more than just cases of mistaken identity.
“For example, in the Christchurch earthquake, microchipped animals who fled and were recovered were returned to their owners very quickly,” says Nikki.
“It also mean councils, SPCAs, and vet clinics, who all have access to the companion animal registry, can find a stray animal's owners and return their pet safely.”