For most of us, our cat going missing is our worst nightmare. The idea of our sweet kitty roaming the neighbourhood alone, frightened and hungry is one we can’t bear to imagine. But there is a highly effective and simple way to give your cat the best chance of being reunited with you – an ID tag.
"An engraved tag with your contact details attached to a quick release collar which pulls apart if your cat gets their collar stuck on anything will help [your cat] be identified should they go missing."
- Battersea Cats & Dogs Home
Already got a microchip? That’s essential too! But microchips are designed to be scanned at a shelter or by a vet, which means your cat will have to wait until it is either injured or taken to a shelter by a good samaritan for its microchip to be scanned and reveal its information. An ID tag starts working from the moment your cat is lost. It indicates to anybody who meets your cat that they have a loving home, and gives them a simple way to contact you to bring your kitty back as quickly as possible.
Should my cat wear an ID tag?
It's a question pondered by many a cat owner. Some don't like the idea of their cat having to wear a collar for the purpose of holding an ID tag, but if the collar is chosen correctly and made from natural materials, is lightweight and features the essential breakaway buckle (shown above), cats can go about their business without even realising they're wearing one! Another concern to some is featuring their personal contact details on a tag. We have put together a handy resource which gives you some alternatives to personal contacts, such as your vet's details which can be found here.
With the above concerns in mind, we at Supakit have done extensive research into the safety and pros and cons of ID tags, and we've found that the benefits greatly out-weigh the fears.
A study by the Humane Society on the benefits of wearing collars with ID tags revealed that in the US, only 2-5% of cats held in shelters nationwide were reunited with their owners. The figure is 8 x higher for dogs. The reason? Putting visible ID on dogs is seen as the norm, but is rarely the case for cats.
Heartbreakingly, for many missing cats taken to shelters without any form of identification, the outcome is tragic. Often, the holding period for a cat arriving at a shelter with no signs of ownership is a mere five days before they can be put up for adoption or worse, euthanization. For cats wearing collars, the holding time is upped to nine days, allowing staff to do their best to find owners. However, for cats with collars and ID tags, a reunion with their owner is swift, simple and painless.
Should indoor cats wear a collar and ID tag?
It’s understandable that many owners whose cats don’t venture outside feel it unnecessary for their pets to wear a collar and ID tag. However, it's staggering to learn that one study found that an unbelievable 40% of missing cats were indoor-only kitties who had accidentally escaped from their homes.
If they were to accidentally escape, a great way to indicate that your kitty is an indoor cat is with a collar and ID tag. Ideally with the text 'I shouldn't be outside' or 'If found outside, please call...' an ID tag is a simple way to tell anyone who encounters your indoor-only kitty outside that they are lost and in need of help. With one phone call to the number printed on their tag, your cat will be back home - safe and sound.
An ID tag also alerts well-meaning people who may encounter your cat, even on its daily stroll, that they are owned and most likely fed! Many cat owners have wondered why their kitty seems to be piling on the pounds when they're on a strict, two meal a day diet only to discover that a kind neighbour has mistaken it for a stray and is also feeding them an additional two meals a day. This is also incredibly important if your cat had any allergies to certain foods or is on a particular diet for a medical condition. This can be indicated on a tag with a simple 'please do not feed' line.
Are collars safe for cats?
Another reason owners might be reluctant for their cat to wear a collar is one of safety. We wholeheartedly agree and safety has been at the forefront of our collar design process from the day one. It is absolutely imperative that any collar your cat wears must be fitted with a breakaway buckle to ensure optimum safety for your cat, and that applies whether they are an outdoor or indoor kitty.
Many of us have heard horror stories of cats getting their collars snagged on trees or caught up in it themselves. But those with vast experience in cat care believe these concerns, although warranted, can be exaggerated and that many more cats are euthanised due to lack of identification than those who die from collar related accidents.
It's a sad fact that poorly designed and badly fitted collars have been responsible for cat injuries in the past. But it's important to note that those events are both exceptionally rare, and can be avoided through the use of a safe and well-fitted collar.
In a study led by veterinarian Professor Linda Lord, only about 3% of cats caught their collars in their mouths, object or limb, all without any adverse effects.
At the bare minimum, it's important to be absolutely certain that you choose a collar with a breakaway safety buckle (not elastic) that will trigger if your cat ever gets snagged by their collar. It's also important to ensure your cat's collar is snugly fitted (so that you can squeeze one fingertip only, flat to your cat, between the collar and their skin), to prevent them from being able to get the collar in their mouths.
Is a microchip better than an ID tag for cats?
Microchips are brilliant and it is advised that every cat should have one, but they are only effective if your cat actually makes it to a vet or shelter. We're not sure about your cat, but if a well-meaning stranger attempted to bundle any of our cats off to the vets to be identified, they would be up the nearest tree quicker than you can say "Hell, no!". Microchips are also prone to malfunctions such as non-scanning as well as falling foul of simple human error by not updating contact details when owners move.
“Microchips are a good back-up option for pet identification, but should never be the main one"
For these reasons, it's a good idea to use the double whammy approach to pet identification and opt for both microchip and ID tag to ensure your cat can be easily identified without having to go through the ordeal of being taken to the nearest shelter or vet.
A simple ID tag secured to a collar is also the easiest way to convey that a cat is owned and loved. From our own experience (and our sole reason for starting Supakit in 2016) of our cat Lola going missing for three, unbearable days – we believe that if she had been wearing a collar and ID tag, she would have been reunited with us far sooner.
So, that is why we are absolutely thrilled to be reintroducing ID tags to the Supakit range. We can now continue to offer our super stylish, hard wearing, brass finish ID tags to give our customers the peace of mind that if the unthinkable did happen and your cat was to go missing, their ID tag would be their fast track ticket home.
If you're stuck on what to have engraved on your kitty's ID tag, head over our blog post - 'What information should you put on your cat's ID tag?'
Click here to check out our ID tag range.