Although collars are useful, cats are very clever and can sneak out of them. Therefore, current AAFP guidelines recommends that every cat have a form of permanent ID even if they are kept strictly indoors (as there is always a risk that an indoor cat may sneak out!).
There are two main types of permanent ID available for your cat:
Tattoos are placed in the right ear under general anesthetic in a letter and number combination. The letters refer to the year of placement (for example 2011 is denoted by the letter “Y”) and the clinic that placed the tattoo (our tattoo code is WP) while the number refers to the individual cat. Tattoos have the advantage that they are outwardly visible but they can fade over time and are only successful province wide as a means of tracking.
Microchips are digital chips inserted under the skin. The chips are read with a scanner to reveal a specific number or letter code. The codes are kept in central databases. Microchips have the advantage that they do not fade over time, are global, and can be placed in an awake cat. The downside is that they are not outwardly visible (i.e. they require a scanner to be read – typically done at shelters and vet clinics). Standard microchips are not GPS chips!
The most important thing to remember when selecting a form of permanent ID is that no form of ID will work unless information is kept updated! If you move or your cat changes owners, please contact the clinic where the tattoo was placed and/or the microchip company to keep the information current!