Collars and tags give you, the cat owner, additional assurance that your pet, microchipped or not, will be found. Only ten percent of missing pets are reunited with their owners. It’s a simple thing to do as we begin National Pet ID Week. It’s so simple that the United States Humane Society is making cat ownership responsibility, including collaring and tagging, one of their major goals as they start their new department on Cat Protection and Policy.
For a minimal cost, a simple collar or tag microchip can prevent this heartbreak of losing your pet, and never finding them again. Katie Lynsik, the new USHS Director of Cat Protection and Public Policy, told Paws for Reflection, that collaring and tagging is easy and inexpensive. Today marks the beginning of National Pet ID Week.
Collars and tags make it easy for a neighbor or someone across town to identify your cat. It also elevates the status of cats, negating the second class citizen reputation. This move would give cats the same value as dogs, which must have collars and tags.
It’s not something that will happen overnight, Lynsik said. It’s all about educating people why it’s in their best interest to collar their pet. Unlike microchips, collars are easily seen. If for some reason the collar falls off, or gets tangled and pulled off, having the cat microchipped would ensure the cat be identifiable.
Eighty-five percent of cat owners spay/neuter their pets, but very few put collars or tags on their cats. By identifying cats as owned, people will ask themselves if they should call the owners, rather than the animal control officer. Cats are still seen as disposable and second class citizens. Hopefully, this would help elevate their status to that of dogs. Another element of ownership responsibility is working with owners and cats to change situations that might be creating litter box problems, one of the major reasons people give up their cats. If people learn good ownership skills, they won’t take the cat to the shelter or just shoo it outside.
The CATalyst Council, a national initiative composed of animal health and welfare organizations working on behalf of cats, supports collar and tagging, saying, “ this is the most basic element and every cat should wear a collar with an identification tag-even if it’s an indoor-only cat. Some cat collars are designed with a break away feature so that if they get caught in a tight spot, the collar won’t choke them. The most important point about collars is to make sure they are fitted properly and you can slip only one or two fingers between the collar and your cat. Collars are a first line of defense, and other identification tools must be used so that you and your cat can be reunited if it escapes or becomes lost.
As a second measure, the council recommends microchipping the cat. A small bead about the size of a grain of rice is inserted under your cat’s skin near the shoulder blades. Each chip has encoded information that once scanned at an animal control facility, shelter, or veterinarian’s office can be retrieved, finding the owner’s contact information.
Many areas have low-cost microchip clinics. These services are also available at many veterinarian’s offices. If the clinic or vet does not register the chip with a national pet recovery service, it’s vital that you do so. The registry connects you and your cat. It’s also important to update this information if you move or change phone numbers. Cats with microchips are 20 times more likely to be reunited with their owner than cats without them.
Less common in cats and less effective, tattoos can be used as a means of identification. They can fade or be covered by fur which can make them difficult to see. It’s also more difficult to update an address or phone number.