What would you do if some dark night, your beloved cat failed to come home? This truly is a cat parent’s worst nightmare. Some cats are prone to wander and might be alright, but should your cat go missing, having a clear, secure ID tag can help ensure their safe return. In honor of National Pet ID Week, we thought we would shine some light on how ID tags can keep your cat safe should they wander away, become disoriented and lost, or get picked up by a well-intentioned neighbor.
Even indoor cats get out sometimes, so be sure your cat has an ID, a safe, secure collar, and a microchip.
A Cat’s Nature Makes Them Vulnerable to Go Missing
Cats are very independent creatures, and many of them have their own agenda. So, it isn’t uncommon for them to wander off for a day or two. Most of the time, though, they come back home before anything bad happens. In fact, “10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the U.S. every year. One in three pets will become lost at some point during their life” according to the American Humane Association.
Many “lost” cats come home on their own, and many are found by their human parents searching the neighboring areas. But what if neither of those happens with your sweet feline friend?
What Happens When Your Cat Wanders Off & Gets Lost?
Most cats eventually come home on their own within a few days. However, if you have recently moved, you lost your cat while taking them somewhere in your car, or you have an indoor cat that escaped through an open door or window, they are less likely to find their way home all by themselves. This is where an ID tag can turn a disaster into relief and a reunion.
So, where are so many cats that have wandered away from home and how can an ID tag make a difference for a cat escapee?
1. The cat found a “new” home.
As they wander the neighborhood, some kind souls think they are lost and offer them a tasty meal. Depending on circumstances, your cat might decide to hang out there and enjoy the handouts.
A tag on their collar will alert good Samaritans that the cat has a home and needs to return there.
2. The cat got injured.
If your cat is injured, they might not be able to get home on their own. A tag with your phone number allows the person that finds your cat to call you so that you can get your cat and take them to a veterinarian for any needed care.
3. The cat got confused and disoriented
Many indoor cats tend to not be able to find their way home as easily as indoor-outdoor cats – they’re just not as “street smart.” However, many who have experience roaming the yard wind up going missing due to developing dementia.
How an ID Tag Can Help Your Cat Make It Home
When a cat doesn’t have microchips or tags, it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine the owner of a stray or injured cat. All family pets should have an ID chip so the person that found them can locate you when they are lost. But not everyone has a chip reader handy. Additionally, many cats are found outside of normal vet and shelter business hours. Making matters more dire, many cat parents don’t keep information on the chip up-to-date. This is why ID tags are important.
1. An ID tag signifies that your cat's not a stray.
When someone sees a collar and a tag on a cat, they know that it has a kind and loving pet parent somewhere. It is easy for them to copy your phone number from the tag and alert you to your favorite feline’s location.
2. Your cat’s ID is the first thing a person will see.
A tag with contact information is difficult to overlook. It is easy to pick the cat up, read the contact information, then call or text the owner about the location of their missing tabby.
3. An ID tag tells the shelter that your cat has an owner that misses them.
Some people are busy and don’t want to go through the effort of returning your cat, or they are nervous about meeting someone they don’t know to give you your feline back. Instead, they will take your cat to a shelter. The tag will quickly alert the shelter that you are waiting anxiously at home for news of your missing cat and give you a call, so you can come and pick it up.
What to Look for in an ID Tag & Collar
Your cat might not like their collar at first, but after a few days or at most a week or two, they will become accustomed to it. So, if they tug on the collar, don’t worry, they will eventually get used to it. It is better for your cat to be a little uncomfortable now than it is for them to get lost and not be able to get home.
Types of collars
While it might be nice to have a collar that the cat can’t remove, the safest is a collar that can unsnap if it becomes stuck or snagged. A snagged collar can injure your beloved cat or maybe even cause its death. So avoid collars with buckles that won’t open without human help.
These are the most comfortable and longest-lasting, and avoid leather collars because they can rub on your cat’s fur and neck until sores develop.
Other collar characteristics to consider
You might also want to look for a collar that glows in the dark, lights up, or has reflective strips so that it is easier to see when it is outside at night. The sad reality is that cars are too often the cause of cats losing their lives. So, reflective stripping, a light-up collar, or glow-in-the-dark can be better safe than sorry investment.
There are also collars with GPS tracking technology. As long as your cat has it on, you will know where they are. You might be fascinated by the places your feline friend goes when it is out exploring at night.
You might want to add a small bell to warn your feathered friends that a hungry feline is prowling and give them a chance to escape before your kitty makes a quick meal of them.
A Proper-Fitting Collar for Your Cat
Fitting your cat’s collar at the store to make sure that it will fit properly. If your cat is like most and isn’t a fan of shopping, check the store’s return policy. To check that your cat’s collar fits, put the collar on, and make sure that you can easily slide two fingers under the collar.
If your cat’s collar is too loose, it could come off or get snagged. If it’s too tight and it will be very uncomfortable for your cat.
Remember to check your cat’s collar after they’ve worn it for a little while to make sure that it hasn’t loosened up too much. You will want to periodically check to make sure that it is still fitting correctly and hasn’t been damaged.
What Information Should You Put on Your Cat’s Tag?
You want to put as much helpful information on your cat’s tag as possible. Larger tags have a little more room and can hold more information, but make sure that it has the basics, listed in order of importance:
Your cat’s name
Name and contact information for your veterinarian
Special medical needs
A message such as, “I’m a house cat” (optional)
Home address (optional)
Tag! You’re it! Take the Time to Check & Update Your Cat’s Tag
Keeping your pet safe is our top priority! Get started by investing in a new, shiny ID for your cat. If your cat has an ID, you can still celebrate, as well. Check your cat’s ID, if there are any changes to your contact information, make sure that you get an updated tag–And check from time to time that the loop holding your cat’s ID to their collar isn’t weak or splitting apart.
There is a chance that at some point in your cat’s life, they will get lost and not be able to find their way home. With a microchip and a tag with contact information on their collar, there is a very good chance that you will soon be reunited.
Cats have been known to be lost for years only to eventually find their way home. Wouldn’t it be better to have them home days after getting separated rather than years?