All our pets are microchipped, including our indoor cat, Talley. And she, like her dog siblings, wears ID at all times. Here’s how I explained my reasons to a cat owner who wrote asking about ID and chipping for her indoor cat.
Q: My new cat will be indoor-only. Does she still need a collar and tag or a microchip?
A: The one thing we know for sure about cats is that they do things their way, and they have ways of getting around our plans for them. No matter how careful you are, there’s always a chance that your cat could slip out an open door or window without anyone noticing. When that happens, wearing an identification tag and being microchipped can be his key to getting back inside.
A collar with an identification tag is the most obvious way to alert someone that your cat has a home with people who love her. Tags are visible and can be engraved with multiple phone numbers: landline (if you still have one), cellphone and your veterinarian’s number. Choose a breakaway collar that will release under pressure in case your cat gets hung up on something.
Of course, collars and tags can come off. Cats are notoriously Houdini-like when it comes to getting out of collars. And collars can be removed by others. Keep a couple of extra collars and tags on hand in case you need to make replacements.
And have a second line of defense to help ensure your cat’s return: a microchip. This permanent form of identification cannot be removed, but of course it’s invisible to the naked eye. Veterinarians and shelters have scanners that can read microchips. Be sure your cat’s microchip is registered with an organization that will provide 24-hour notification that your cat has been found. You can attach the tag with the registry’s phone number to the collar with your cat’s ID tag. Keep your phone number and address up to date with the registry so you can be easily contacted.
There’s more in Pet Connection, the weekly nationally syndicated pet feature I co-write with Kim Campbell Thornton and my daughter, trainer Mikkel Becker.