Microchips, Tags, Tattoos: Can a Cat Have Too Much ID?


Editor’s note: Today (Aug. 15) is Check the Chip Day — a reminder to cat and dog owners to not only have their pets microchipped but also to make sure the contact information on file is current — we’re republishing this item from last fall on adequate identification for cats.

I work with a lot of clients whose cats go missing. Each case is unique depending on the type of cat, the cat’s size and age, the areas of the world from which they go missing, and the reason they are lost. I would say that a majority of the cases involve cats who have indoor-only or mostly indoor/partially outdoor living arrangements. I’ve been told hundreds of times that Fluffy never leaves the house or yard, but no matter how often I caution my clients about the possible consequences, lots of them still don’t provide any identification for their cats. This just makes finding their pet harder. I’m a strong advocate of providing your cats with as much identification as possible just in case they go missing.

If your cat is never allowed outside, you might argue that getting your cat a tag is a waste of time and money. Some people stress that their cats hate the collars and tags and always find ways to remove them. I know that it can be a challenge to keep the collars and tags on your cat, but at least give it a try. If you look for a collar that can be embroidered with your cat’s name and contact number, this will at least eliminate a metal tag hanging down and rattling each time your cat eats or drinks from her bowl After all, it’s all about keeping your cat protected should they slip away.

Collars and tags are a great first step. However, a cat can easily lose their tags if the clasp breaks, the collar gets stuck on something and becomes dislodged, or if someone intent on keeping your cat removes the collar and ID tag. This is why I also suggest getting a microchip for your cat. The small rice-sized chip is easily inserted by your veterinarian between your cat’s shoulders. All of your cat’s personal information is then stored by the chip’s manufacturer. Should your cat go missing and someone finds it, they can simply go to a nearby veterinarian, animal control facility, or animal rescue shelter and have the information captured with a wave of an RFID wand. The manufacturer of the chip is then notified, your cat’s information is retrieved from their database, and they let you know that someone has located your cat.

The microchips work well and have come a long way since the early days. Sometimes they still migrate from their original location and slide to the cat’s shoulder area or their front legs. It’s always a good idea to ask your veterinarian to scan for the chip when you take your cat in for their annual checkup. Also, before micro-chipping your cat, ask your veterinarian if the chip they’re using for your cat is a universal microchip that can be scanned by any microchip scanning wand.

If you’d like yet a third option for providing identification for your cat, tattoos may be something for you to consider. Of course I’m not talking about a shoulder tattoo that says, "I Love Catnip!" Instead, the type of tattoo that I’m referring to is usually a series of numbers and/or letters that make up some type of code that has meaning to the cat’s owner. The code and cat’s identifying information is usually registered by an authorized agent who also applies the tattoo. I see these cat tattoos most often with high-end breeding and show cats.

When the tattoo is applied, it’s normally placed in a discreet area, like the stomach just under the fur line. When considering a tattoo for your cat, select a location on their body where you know it can be located, yet isn’t completely hidden from sight. People who aren’t familiar with cat tattoos would never think to look in that area. Even if they did, it would be hard to cover the tattoo up or make it unrecognizable.

I’ve worked with thousands of people trying to locate and identify their lost or stolen animals. In my opinion, there’s no such thing as too much identification for your cat.

Do you have tags, microchips or tattoos for your cat? Do you think a cat can have too much identification? Share your pictures and stories on Catster.

About Tim Link: All-American guy who loves to rock out to Queen while consuming pizza and Pinot Noir and prefers to associate with open-minded people who love all critters. Considers himself to be the literal voice for all animals. Author, writer, radio host, Reiki Master, Animal Communicator and consultant at Wagging Tales.

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