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Q: My cat lives strictly indoors. Does she really need to be microchipped or, for that matter, wear a collar and tag?

A: Short answer: Yes! It's all too common for indoor cats to escape. Workers can leave a door open, or the door can close but not latch, allowing a curious cat to push it open. It's amazing how quickly they can slip through an open door, become frightened and disappear.

A collar and tags are the first line of defense. They're visible, and someone who finds your cat can look at them to get your phone number or address and contact you. It's wise to include your last name on the collar, as well as a cellphone number.

But collars and tags can come off. With the feline ability to squeeze through tight spaces, it's important to use a breakaway collar that will come off easily so your cat doesn't get hung up on something and choke.

A microchip is the second line of defense if a cat gets out and is lost. Even if a collar and tag have come off, a microchip is permanent identification that can't be removed. A microchip is tiny, about the size of a grain of rice. It lasts a cat's lifetime and never needs recharging or replacement.

A microchip is implanted by your veterinarian, injected beneath the skin between the shoulder blades. This is often done when the cat or kitten is being spayed or neutered, but no sedation or anesthesia is required. The microchip emits a signal when activated by a scanning device, available at most veterinary clinics and shelters. Then you can be notified that your cat has been found.

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