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After purchasing a new cat one of the first things you should do is make sure it has proper identification, and ensure it is licensed if required by your municipality. Even an indoor cat can find its way outdoors, and it may not be able to find its way home. Without proper identification, it may be lost forever.

A visit to your local animal shelter where many lost and abandoned pets are housed will give you an idea of how important it is to give your cat some form of ID. Unfortunately, many animals in shelters must be euthanized because they do not have identification, their owners cannot be found and shelters cannot take care of them forever. Even if your cat is kept indoors, it should carry some kind of identification, in case it escapes your house and is lost.

Municipalities across Canada have increasingly recognized the importance of pet identification by creating bylaws that require registration of all cats. Licensing is not only an important piece of identification, but the funds generated by licensing programs help support animal control programs and help keep your community safe for you and your pet. As an added incentive, many municipalities offer a rebate on licensing for pets that are microchipped and spayed or neutered.

CFHS… strongly encourages all pet owners to identify their cats in at least one of the following ways:

Tags: This is the simplest method of identifying your dog or cat. It requires having a tag made with the cat’s name and contact information including your name, address and phone number and making sure it is attached to a break-away collar. Although your cat will be easily identified this way, the tag could easily be lost. All cats should wear a collar and tag, even if they also have permanent identification like a microchip or tattoo, because this will allow anyone who finds them to contact you immediately, without requiring access to microchip reader or tattoo database.

Microchipping: This form of identification is increasing in popularity among dog and cat owners and is advocated by the CFHS… as the best permanent method. Microchipping can be done by your vet, or at special clinics run by your animal shelter or municipality.

Photo:Ottawa Humane Society
Dr. Downes
microchipping cat

Microchipping involves inserting a small “chip” under the skin of your dog’s back with the use of a hypodermic needle. A microchip is a transmitter the size of a grain of rice. The procedure is relatively painless – similar to the experience your dog will have being vaccinated×and does not require an anesthetic. It usually costs less than $60 Canadian. Most humane societies, SPCA… and veterinarians will have a scanner that can read the information in the chip, which will tell them how to contact you.

The only disadvantage is that the microchip is invisible and can only be identified with a scanner, but you can avoid this problem by purchasing a tag indicating that your cat has a microchip. Some chip companies provide these tags free of charge.

Canada is fortunate to have a standardized microchipping system for pets. CFHS… is a founding member of the National Companion Animal Coalition, which created a national standard for microchipping in the early 1990s. This standard was revised over the last few years to better reflect new technologies. The creation of a national chip standard has helped ensure there is a more unified and effective recovery system in Canada.

Please click here to see the current list of microchip products recognized by the National Companion Animal Coalition.


Tattoos: This involves your veterinarian, or a pet tattooist recommended by your veterinarian, putting a small tattoo on your cat, usually on the inner thigh or in the ear. It is most often done by breeders when the puppies are still quite young. Although it is a good permanent ID marker, the drawback is that tattoos can fade and stretch causing them to become illegible with time. The procedure can also be painful for your dog and sometimes requires an anesthetic. Also, there is no centralized database for tattoo numbers in Canada, and it can be impossible to track down the information related to a given tattoo number.

Canada now also benefits from a single, web-based animal registry that accepts all types of ID: tattoos, nose prints, visual tags, licenses, passports, microchips, text descriptions, pictures and DNA… to name a few. It’s not controlled by one ID vendor like a microchip supplier or a vaccine manufacturer.

By gathering all this information in one place, PetLynx can increase the success of finding lost animals, often without animals ever having to visit a shelter. To find out more, visit

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