ID tags are widely available but they are of varying quality. The ones produced on the spot in vending machines are relatively inexpensive but the inscription tends to wear off quickly. A good ID tag should be of stainless steel or brass or a hard polymer plastic, because they do not rust. The hole by which the tag attaches to the S-hook or split ring should be reinforced by a grommet.
ID tags are your pet’s only visible means of identification. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain and use. They are a source of instant information. Even if a pet has a microchip, a lot of people don’t understand microchipping and might not take a found pet to be scanned, but they can’t miss an ID tag.
The disadvantage of all ID tags is that they must be attached to a collar and collars fall off, especially cat collars. Also some cats will not tolerate a collar. In any case, if you do put a collar on a cat it must be a breakaway collar otherwise, with their climbing ability, cats can get a collar entangled somewhere and they end up being trapped or strangled.
Of course, the safest thing for cats is not to be allowed to roam free where there are so many potential hazards: cars. predators like coyotes – even in urban areas – disease or aggression from other animals, acts of cruelty by people, not to mention the possibility of getting lost. The list goes on and on.. But even if your cat is an inside cat, it is a good idea to have some kind of ID for him or her. Pet FBI gets reports everyday about indoor cats that slipped out!
Another disadvantage of ID tags is that lost pets can be panicked and will not let anyone get close enough to read a tag. On the Pet FBI database it is possible to report sightings by explaining in the comment box, and we encourage people to report sightings of lost pets, even if they don’t have the animal in hand.
Some companies are selling ID tags that are associated with a special registry. We don’t see that they have any great advantage over conventional ID tags and there is the disadvantage that someone finding a pet with that special registry ID tag would have to go through the intermediary of the registry to contact the owner. Also, they are more expensive than conventional ID tags.
A good permanent method of permanent pet ID is the microchip. A microchip is a tiny identification device, about the size of a grain of rice, that is implanted beneath the skin of your pet. Each chip contains a unique identification number. When a pet is found, it can be scanned at an animal shelter or veterinary clinic.
Many companies now offer microchips for pets. They are not terribly expensive. Often humane societies offer low-cost microchipping clinics, so ask your local humane society or consult your vet.
Tattooing your cat and dog is another great and permanent way to protect them if they ever get lost. Tattooing dogs and cats has been done routinely since the sixties and is a relatively painless procedure.
A tattoo must be registered with a tattoo registry. Each registry has its own coding system and its own fee schedule. Your veterinarian, local breed clubs, humane societies and animal shelters can give you information about these registries.
GPS (Global Position Satellite) technology can allow pet owners to know their pets’ exact location. Here’s how: a small transmitter is afixed to the pet’s collar. This transmitter sends out a signal that can be received by the owner’s cell phone or a special receiver, depending on the system. Some GPS locators will tell you when the pet has breached a virtual “fence”. There are several systems available, including very small ones for cats. They range in price from about $100 to $625. If your pet is a “bolter” it could be well worth the investment. The downside is that the device can be lost if the pet slips its collar.
- You should have a good quality photograph of your pet showing any distinctive characteristics he or she may have. In case your pet ever gets lost, this photograph could be invaluable.
- Never tie your pet up outside a store or a public place.
- Never leave your pet in parked car if only for “just a minute.”
- Never place a”free to good home ad”. That is an invitation for “bunchers”, people who collect animals for unscrupulous purposes.
- Pet theft is widespread. It is not confined to “bad” neighborhoods. Read more about Stolen Pets
- Finally, never, never leave your pet unattended. We have had reports of pets snatched from fenced yards, front porches, even parked cars.