Tattoos and Microchips for Cats

Sadly, most lost cats never make it home again. Although an identification (I.D.) tag is the single best way to prevent your cat from getting lost, cat collars sometimes fall off. If this happens, your cat's I.D. tag won't do it much good. Fortunately, with technology such as computers, scanners, and voice mail, you can use tattoos and microchips to protect your kitten in addition to an I.D. tag.

Either your veterinarian or a tattoo service can tattoo your kitten on the inside of its right hind leg with a social security number, state identification number, or a Pet tattoo agency's special form of identification. Tattooing is convenient -- it only takes about two minutes -- and it's inexpensive. However, your cat's tattoo should be registered with a national tattoo service such as the National Pet Registry (914) 679-2355 or Tattoo-a-Pet (800) TATTOOS. This way, if your cat is brought to a shelter anywhere in the United States, it can be traced to the registry through the number on the tattoo. The registry will reunite you with your cat. The drawback to tattooing is that people at shelters sometimes don't know enough to look for the tattoo, or they don't see it under a cat's thick fur.

You can also have a tiny microchip injected under the skin on the back of your cat's neck. If your cat is found by a shelter, the chip is scanned to reveal a number for a pet registry. When the shelter contacts the pet registry, they provide your name and telephone number. Many veterinarians now insert microchips for a small fee. However, if a shelter doesn't have a scanner, the microchip can't be read.

Remember that tattoos and microchips should be used in addition to an I.D. tag, not in place of one.

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