Proper identification of your cat may help reunite you after your cat has been lost. An indoor cat may slip out of an open door or window. You may not find your cat again if it was adopted by a good samaritan or if it was taken to a shelter. Natural disasters also contribute to cat escapes due to home destruction from floods, earthquakes, or fire. If your house is broken into by a burglar, your cat may also take the chance for escape through an open door or window.

The American Humane Association located in Englewood, Colorado, says that only two out of every 100 unidentified cats brought to shelters are returned to their owners. A small percentage are adopted out, some spend their lives in cages in no-kill shelters, and the rest are euthanized.

This brings up an important point about indoor versus outdoor living cats. Since many outdoor cats roam freely and most do not have any identification, many are considered stray or feral by people and ignored, when in fact, it could be a cat that is lost or in need of help. The American Humane Association claims that the lifespan of an outdoor or stray cat is about eight years, as opposed to the lifespan of an indoor cat which can live into its teens and even twenties.

Remember: If YOU do not register your pet’s tattoo number or microchip information, these forms of ID are useless. Veterinarians do not register your pet, you MUST do this yourself.

Collars and Tags

  • Tags are engraved or imprinted with the cat’s name, your address, and phone number.
  • They are made from plastic, stainless, steel, aluminum, brass, or other metal.
  • States that require rabies licenses also have an id number on them.
  • If the tag has only your veterinarian’s phone number, the person who found your cat may not be willing to hang on to it if your veterinarian’s office is closed at the time.
  • Tattoos have accompanying id tags to place on your pet’s collar.
  • Microchips have accompanying id tags to place on your pet’s collar.
  • Collars and tags can be purchased cheaply. For the two, the price can be between $5 to $10 together.


  • Use only breakaway collars for your cat, so if the collar becomes caught on something, the collar will break and release the cat instead of causing strangulation. Of course, your cat will now lose its identification.
  • If someone sees your cat with a collar and tag on, they may assume that the cat is not lost but an indoor/outdoor cat and not bother about trying to catch the cat and contact the owner.


  • Many shelters tattoo pets before they are adopted.
  • Tattoos are permanent.
  • Most tattoos on cats are done in the inside of the ear for clear visibility but show cats, may be tattooed on their stomachs, or inside of one of their legs.
  • Tag accompanies the tattoo with the toll free contact number.
  • You can get tattoos for your cat through your veterinarian, some groomers, breeders, and pet stores.
  • A kitten as young as three months old may be tattooed.


  • Some tattoos are not visible and are in an area where the rescuer may not be able to look on a frightened or injured cat. The tattoo may also have been covered by hair.
  • Tattoos may be altered or covered up.
  • Anesthesia may be required.


  • The chip is encased in a medical-grade glass and injected by syringe just beneath the skin near the cat’s shoulder blades. It is the size of a grain of rice and encoded with an identification number.
  • Microchips are permanent.
  • A scanner is required to read the microchip. Many veterinarians, animal control officials, shelters, and even some police departments have scanners.
  • The chip is inserted by your veterinarian.
  • No anesthesia is required.
  • It can be inserted at a young age.
  • Id number cannot be altered.
  • Avid says that since 1991, more than 130,000 chipped animals of many different species have been reunited with their owners.
  • The price of the microchipping is a one time price of about $45 for the injection and $15 per animal for registration. Some companies will register your animals for free. Make sure your animal is registered or the microchip is useless. And don’t forget to change your contact information when necessary.
  • For information on Pet Recovery Services visit the American Animal Hospital Association’s website.
  • Reach Avid at 800-336-2843 or by Avid’s website.


  • The chip is not visible so the animal should wear a collar and tag that states they have a chip with the id number on it. The companies automatically supply the tag when your pet is microchipped.
  • The chip can migrate within the body and may be hard to be picked up by the scanner. When your cat goes for its yearly or biannual check-up at your veterinarian, have your cat scanned to make sure the chip is where it is supposed to be and to make sure the chip is working. A replacement chip can be used if the original chip has migrated or does not work. This is very rare.

Ear Tags

  • The ear tag is octagonal and one-eighth of an inch in diameter.
  • It looks like a stud earring and is made from medical-grade stainless steel.
  • It was designed specifically for cats.
  • It is inserted by your veterinarian with a modified ear piercing tool
  • The stud is readily visible.
  • The stud is engraved with your phone number, your veterinarian’s phone number, and an identification code.
  • Anesthesia may not be necessary.
  • The stud can be removed and cleaned every two months.
  • It can be applied to a kitten as young as 4 months old.


  • Some cats may experience an allergic reaction to the metal.
  • The ear tag may be caught on something and removed, the cat may remove it, or someone else may remove it.

There are no guarantees but proper identification can provide a lost cat with its best hope of being rescued and returned to its home. The best bet is to use both visible and permanent identification to better protect your cat.

Remember: If YOU do not register your pet’s tattoo number or microchip information, these forms of ID are useless. Veterinarians do not register your pet, you MUST do this yourself.

Information on this site is for general information purposes only and is provided without warranty or guarantee of any kind. This site is not intended to replace professional advice from your own veterinarian and nothing on this site is intended as a medical diagnosis or treatment. Any questions about your animal’s health or diet should be directed to your veterinarian.

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