A microchip inside Dagney the cat led him back to his owner’s arms Wednesday after four years on the street.

“There it is, my angel baby,” Kelly Damron whispered to the cat as the other felines in the SPCA of Wake County Lost & Found Pet Center meowed, as if watching their own fantasies come true.

Dagney arched his back and paced. “That’s OK,” Damron said. “Take your time.”

Damron thought she occasionally spotted Dagney on the streets after he wandered away from her Cary home in 2003 but never could track him down. She kept his picture in her living room as a reminder and thought about him when the weather got bad.

He finally resurfaced in Damron’s life this week, after a couple who had been feeding him took him to the SPCA. The connection: a microchip that Damron’s vet installed in Dagney years ago. It contained her contact information.

Nobody keeps track of how many pets have recovery microchips, but Adam Goldfarb of the Humane Society of the United States said, “We’re seeing a lot of growth, and we’re going to see a lot more.” The SPCA of Wake County installs microchips in 2,200 pets a year and scans every stray it receives for a silicon clue of ownership.

Damron said Dagney’s microchip gave her hope that she would be reunited with her cat, even as she moved on with her life. She has children, ages 3 and 1, that her cat has never met.

Tears appeared in her eyes Wednesday as she touched Damron’s fur again. She talked about his toughness and admired his healthy build.

“I was afraid he was going to be skinny,” she said. “He’s not.”

After awhile, Damron picked up Dagney and put him in a blue pet carrier. They were headed to the “V-E-T,” she said, and then back back home for a quiet party that would include a healthy portion of giblets for him.

Welcome back, Dagney, to the life of a house cat. You’ll never go outside again.