July 31, 2013
Collars, Tags: Your Cat’s Safety Net
If your cat gets lost, an identification tag can help bring him home
Whether it's an engraved sterling silver disk from a fancy boutique or a make-it-yourself aluminum circle from a pet store, your cat's ID tag is more than feline jewelry. It's a vital safety net for keeping you and your companion together.
Tag; you're it!
For their health and safety and your peace of mind, all pet cats should be kept indoors. But accidents can happen. A door or window inadvertently left open can tempt your feline friend to slip outside. That's why all cats should wear collars and tags.
An ID tag is your cat's ticket home. If you're lucky, a neighbor will find him and return him to you right away. But your pet could be picked up by a stranger or an animal control officer and taken to a shelter. Without an ID tag, he could be mistaken for a homeless stray. A tag tells the staff that your cat has an owner who loves him and wants him back.
Your cat's ID tag should have your name, address, and a telephone number where you're easily reached. Including a second telephone number or the number of a friend or relative is also a good idea.
You should check your pet's ID tag regularly to make sure it's still readable—a heavily scratched or broken tag won't do any good. And, of course, if your contact information changes, you should update the tag immediately.
An ID tag is even more important if you and your cat are traveling or moving. Pets have been known to get loose on airport tarmacs or at roadside rest stops, and you'll have a much better chance of recovering your pet if he has an ID. Make sure his tag bears your cell phone number or the number of someone who can contact you or take responsibility for your pet if you're out of reach.
Types of tags
There are tags to suit every owner's taste. The easiest way to get a tag is to make it yourself at a local pet store. Many pet supply stores have engraving machines that let you choose the size, shape, and color of the tag as well as the contact information that you want engraved on it. This typically costs about $6, and the tags are finished in a couple of minutes.
You can also find mail-order tag forms at most veterinary clinics and animal shelters. Tags come in all sorts of shapes (circles, squares, houses, bones, etc.) and colors. Some even glow in the dark. You can also go the boutique route and order a tag from high-end stores.
Of course, an ID tag's function is more important than how it looks. Still, you shouldn't try to save a little money by improvising—duct tape and magic marker don't last.
Even if your cat is microchipped, it's still good to have a collar with tags.
There's an astounding variety of cat collars on the market: "diamond" studded for your rhinestone cowcat, faux leopard spots for your mini-cheetah, embroidered, printed, painted, buckled, and more.
But color and design shouldn't be your first considerations when choosing a collar. Safety is the most important feature.
A breakaway collar features a fastener that automatically releases when it's pulled. Since these fasteners don't click into a locked position, they allow your cat to slip free if the collar gets snagged on window blinds, furniture, or fencing. A regular collar, in these situations, could strangle your cat.
Other breakaway collars feature a short length of elastic fabric woven into the collar that expands when you tug it. This kind of collar will also release your cat if he gets caught on an object. The weight of his body, or pressure applied to the collar by tugging, stretches the elastic and lets him escape. You can find breakaway collars at most pet supply stores or online for about the same price as a regular collar.
It's a good idea to keep a spare collar and tag on hand. If your cat loses his collar and tag, you can immediately outfit him with a replacement set. This is a cheap way of ensuring that your feline friend will spend his life where he belongs—with you!