If your cat wanders off or has an accident, then it might not be able to find its way home. If you've microchipped your pet, then a vet or shelter can scan the chip to find out your details and contact you.
However, if you haven't microchipped your pet yet, then it might end up in a shelter. What happens then?
Your Chances of a Reunion Are Slim
If your cat ends up in a shelter and it isn't microchipped, then you have to rely on luck to get it back. Once you realise your pet is missing, then you can call local shelters to see if your pet is there.
However, if your cat has wandered a long distance or if someone has put it in a shelter you don't know about, then you could be out of luck. Without an identifying chip or at least a collar with a phone number, the shelter has no way of knowing who the cat belongs to. Your chances of a happy reunion aren't great.
Your Cat Might Be Adopted
Shelters aim to get as many of their animals adopted as soon as possible. They don't want animals to live in the shelter permanently.
So, if your cat doesn't have a microchip and nobody calls them about the cat, then the shelter might assume that it is lost or abandoned. They'll look to rehome it.
Your pet could end up with a new family. You might never find out where it is.
Even if you do track your pet down to its new family, then you are in a tricky situation. The other family might want to keep the cat and refuse to give it back; you might need to prove that it was originally your pet. This kind of tug-of-love scenario won't necessarily work in your favour.
Your Cat Might Be Euthanised
If you're lucky, your pet will go to a shelter with a no-kill policy. While it isn't ideal for your pet to live out its days in a shelter, this is better than the alternative.
Shelters have limited resources, and some can't keep all the animals who come through their doors. Some have to euthanise animals after a certain period of time if they can't find anyone to adopt them.
To avoid these problems, it's better to microchip your pet. A chip increases your chances of finding your cat if you do lose it.
Bear in mind that this doesn't mean you have to make a time-consuming visit to your vet's clinic. Contact a mobile veterinarian that works in your area and ask if they offer microchipping services. They can come to your home and put a chip in your cat.