How to Get an ID Tag for Your Cat
Along with a secure, well-fitting collar, an ID tag is an essential piece of security for your cat, whether it lives completely indoors or explores outside. ID tags allow your cat to carry your contact information with it at all times. This, in turn, can help others return your cat to you if it escapes or wanders into an area where it shouldn’t be. Purchase a tag online or at a pet store and include your cat’s name, a phone number where you can be reached, and the city in which you live. Additionally, talk to your vet about getting your cat microchipped as an added layer of security for your four-legged companion.
Part 1Planning the Tag
At minimum, your cat’s tag should include your cat’s name as well as a phone number where you can be reached. If possible, it is also helpful to include the city in which you live in case your cat happens to get far from home.
Make the phone number on your cat’s ID tag one that you are able to answer most of the time. Include your mobile phone number on the tag if you have one. Make sure any phone number is connected to an answering machine or voicemail service in case you are unable to get to your phone at certain moments. If the tag has space and if you are comfortable with it, you may want to consider adding your address to the tag. This is especially useful for indoor cats should they escape.
You may want to consider adding a personal message on the backside of your tag, or purchasing an additional tag letting others know whether your cat is an indoor or an outdoor cat. This can help others assess whether they need to call you if they see your cat near home and in good health.
A message for an indoor cat may read, “If you find me, I am lost. Please call my owner.” A message for an outdoor cat could include, “I can go outside. Please only call if sick or injured.”
In addition to a customized ID tag, you may want to consider attaching your cat’s rabies vaccine tag to their collar. The ID number on the vaccine tag can sometimes be cross-referenced by a vet to pull up your contact information should the normal ID tag get lost. A new rabies vaccine tag should be given to you whenever you get your cat vaccinated. If one is not provided upon checkout, ask the vet or technician that administered the vaccine for a new tag.
You will attach your tags to your cat's collar, so you want to make sure you think about a safe collar in advance. Always use a collar that has safety release clips. This lets the collar break off if your cat gets caught by the neck.
Do not use collars that have elastic inserts, as the can increase injury of risk to your cat. Remember to microchip in addition to getting tags. If your cat's collar falls off, the tags will go with it. Microchips offer a way to identify your cat even if the tags are gone.
Part 2Purchasing ID Tags
Tags can easily be purchased and customized online through a number of websites, including online retailers like GoTags, and websites for pet stores such as Petco and Petsmart. Online orders generally cost about as much as in-store purchases, and sometimes enable a greater degree of customization.
Many online retailers have a wider selection of tag colors and styles than will be available in stores. Online orders will take longer than in-store orders as most stores have same-day engraving, while online orders will need to ship.
Most pet stores have machines where customers can buy tags directly. Typically, a customer will buy tokens or credits for the machine at the register, then use the tokens or credits with the machine to choose and customize the tag. Machines are generally able to engrave quickly, with the tag ready in three to five minutes after the ID information is input.
Many pet stores and online retailers that sell cat ID tags also sell accessories to help increase your cat’s safety and visibility. Consider investing in an accessory such as a GPS tag, which can help you track your cat’s real-time location if they escape, or a bell to help keep wildlife away while your cat is outside.
A GPS tag can help identify the overall region your cat is in, but it may not be able to pinpoint an exact location to within a few feet. It is still important to have an ID tag to offer your cat the best security and chance of returning home. Bells are easily purchased at the pet store or craft store. Look for one that does not have tapering slots where your cat's claws could get caught.
Part 3Considering Microchipping
In addition to an ID tag, your vet can almost painlessly implant a small microchip in between your cat’s shoulders. This chip can be read by any vet, rescue, or even pet store with a scanner, and can pull up detailed records regarding your pet and your contact information.
Unlike tags on collars, microchips are permanent and cannot be snagged or broken off while your cat is wandering around. Microchip service providers allow you options to include more information than you can generally fit on tag, such as contact information for a second individual if you cannot be reached, as well as vet information. Remember that a microchip works best in addition to an ID tag. Since they can only be read with a machine, an ID tag is still the fastest way for the average concerned citizen to reach you if they find your cat.
Microchipping is a fast and near-painless process that can be done by most any vet. Set an appointment with your cat’s vet and bring them in to be microchipped as soon as your vet has open availability.
The chip is implanted through a fast injection, no different in process than a routine vaccination. The cost of implantation will vary depending upon the chip brand and your vet’s fee structure, but often the procedure is around $45.
Once the chip is implanted, use the chip servicer’s website to make sure the chip displays the most accurate information. Go online and fill out as much information as you can provide, including your cat’s name, your name, your contact information, and information for a secondary contact. Remember to update tags or microchip information every time you move or get a new phone number.