Why your pet should have ID – especially your indoor cat!

Have you ever seen a cat wandering around a neighborhood and wondered if it might be lost? Have you ever seen a dog wandering a neighborhood and known it was lost?

How is anyone supposed to know whether a wandering cat is lost or not? This is exactly why more lost dogs than lost cats are found and returned home. Here are some facts about lost dogs and cats:

  • In a study comparing the frequency of lost dogs and cats, 93% of lost dogs were found while only 75% of lost cats were found (Source)
  • In a study on lost cats, 53% of lost cats were found. Of the cats found, only 19% had any form of identification and 40% were indoor-only cats. (Source)
  • In a comparable study on lost dogs, 71% of lost dogs were found and 48% of lost dogs had some form of identification (Source)

That is quite a difference between lost dogs and cats and staggeringly low numbers of cats with identification.

As a quick experiment, I tallied up the lost cats on a local facebook page and came up with: 79 cats were lost from October to December 2015. Of those 79 reported lost, only 18 were reported found. That is a 23% success rate. Of course, it is likely some of those cats were later found and not reported so the actual number is probably higher. But its still disheartening.

Fortunately, you can get your cat identification to increase their chances of them returning home in the event they are lost.

Microchips are usually inserted under the skin between the shoulder blades, no anesthesia required. The chip contains a unique registration number not unlike a barcode that can be read with a scanner. The most important step is to register your pet with the microchip company and provide your updated contact information with it. Read more about microchipping from the Humane Society.

Tattoos are often done inside the ear and are a special code which will be registered with your pet’s details (color, breed, health issues, required medication, anything else relevant), their vet and your contact information.

Keep in mind microchips and tattoos are not magical cat locator beacons or GPS trackers. The information associated with the unique tattoo ID or microchip MUST be kept updated. If you move or change phone numbers, you must update the information with the database or pet registry that has your pet’s information.

A collar with a tag is a really great thing to have even if your cat has a tattoo or microchip. That way, if someone finds your cat, they can call your number right then and there and check with you directly if kitty is supposed to be outside or not. Because of the direct link the finder can make to the pet parent, I think collars are a great option. So does the Humane Society!

While many people think that their cat will never adjust to wearing a collar or will fuss or be picky about it, give it a try and you’ll be surprised. I was told my neighbour’s cat would never wear a collar and would manage to get out of it. Three months after giving her a collar, she is still wearing it today. And in fact, a study on 538 cats found 73% of cats successfully wore their collars over the six-month study period, much to the surprise of their parents.

If you do get your cat a collar, make sure it is a breakaway collar! If your cat gets their collar stuck on a branch or gets their leg stuck in it and they do not have a breakaway collar, they could strangle to death or get seriously injured. A breakaway collar, however, is designed to “break away” – the buckle detaches if the cat gets stuck and yanks away, thus allowing them a safe escape.

Also be sure you know how to properly fit the collar. This guide has excellent advice and a video on how to correctly fit a collar on a long or short-haired cat.

If you have an indoor cat, consider getting him or her an orange collar as presented by the Kitty Convict Project. That way, if kitty escapes, people who find him will hopefully know he belongs inside. Or you can have “indoor-only” engraved on your cat’s tag. It is so important for indoor cats to have ID as it is the best way to get them back home safely.

Amber happy in her collar

Does your cat wear a collar? Do they have other ID? If not, please think about it! Don’t let your pet become another lost pet statistic. Ask your vet about it and check with local humane societies or rescue groups. They often offer special pricing for microchips or tattoos. Collars and tags are relatively cheap. My local animal pound offers engraved tags for free. Its worth checking if maybe your’s does, too.


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