When it comes to identification for your cat, you may not think it’s important if he never goes outdoors. Actually, all cats should have some form of I.D. because the “unthinkable” could happen one day where your indoor kitty bolts out the door or is accidentally let outside.
Types of Identification for Cats
There are basically two ways of making sure your cat can be identified should he end up lost. The first is the traditional method of having an I.D. tag on a collar that hangs around his neck. The second is to have your cat microchipped.
Collars and Tags
This is the method used for years and years by people. The good part about this method is that it’s easy for someone to visibly see that the cat belongs to someone and that person can immediately call you if they are able to get close enough to the cat to read the information on the tag.
There are a few downsides to relying on an identification tag and collar alone though. First, the collar has to actually be on the cat for it to be effective. If the collar hasn’t been fitted properly and your cat can easily use his paws to get it off, then it won’t do any good. The other problem is that collars can get hung up on tree branches and bushes if your cat goes outdoors. The type of collars that are recommended for outdoors cats are breakaway collars to prevent cats from getting strangled should they get hung up on a tree limb. That type of collar saves the cat’s life but it also then leaves the identification on the tree limb and not on kitty.
The other downside of using a collar and tag alone is that if your cat is stolen, the collar can simply be removed by someone.
A microchip is a small chip that your veterinarian can insert just under your cat’s skin. The chip is typically inserted at the top of the back, just between the shoulder blades. Insertion of the chip is done with a special needle and the process is extremely fast. The chip itself is extremely small but contains important identification information.
The microchip inserted under your cat’s skin contains a number that a handheld scanner can read. Almost all veterinarians and shelters have these scanners. When you have your cat microchipped, you then register your contact information as well as information about your cat with the registry company. You can update your contact information easily so the microchip that’s implanted in your cat doesn’t get outdated. If you move or change phone numbers, it’s crucial that you keep the information current.
Should You Choose an I.D. Tag or Microchipping?
In my opinion, you should use both. The collar is easy for people to see but since there is a risk of it coming off (or taken off), the microchip is permanent. As long as you keep the information current with the registry company, you will always have proof that the cat belongs to you.
Pam Johnson-Bennett is the star of Psycho Kitty airing on Discovery UK. She is author of seven best-selling books on cat behavior including Think Like a Cat: how to raise a well-adjusted cat – not a sour puss. Think Like a Cat has become known as the cat bible. Pam is considered a pioneer in the field of cat behavior consulting. In addition to her television series and public speaking engagements, Pam owns Cat Behavior Associates, a private veterinarian-referred behavior company in Nashville, TN. Cat Behavior Associates offers private cat behavior appointments on a limited basis. Pam Johnson-Bennett is a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant.