Losing a pet is heart-breaking. If Kitty runs away, having ID will dramatically increase the probability Kitty will make it home safely. Just make sure the collar he's wearing isn't going to pose a unique danger in and of itself.
Why Wear a Collar?
While you can certainly find colorful, designer collars for Kitty that will make him look snazzy, a collar isn't just a pretty adornment for him. A collar should always be worn with an identification tag. While you probably keep your furry friend indoors, an open door or window can prove a tempting invitation for him to explore the outside world. While being outside unsupervised poses its own set of risks, getting outside can mean the terrifying prospect of never seeing Kitty again. A collar will promote the safe return of your adventurous feline.
Having a collar without a tag won't do Kitty any good. ID tags are available in a variety of colors, shapes and materials. His tag should have his name, your address and your telephone number on it. This will give your neighbor or a helpful stranger the ability to return your pal to you. Make sure his tag is sturdy, and not too big or heavy. Kitty isn't as big as some of his canine counterparts so a large, heavy tag intended for a dog may be a strain on Kitty's neck. Check his tag regularly to make sure it's still legible. If it's tough to read for you, it definitely will be a struggle for someone who doesn't know you. If your phone number or address changes, it's time for Kitty to get an updated tag.
While having a collar is good for finding your lost kitty, it can pose a choking risk for him. His collar should never be put on too tight. A collar that constricts his throat can cause him to choke, which could be fatal. If Kitty begins drooling, coughing or pawing at his neck it could be a sign his collar is a little snug. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you can slide at least two fingers between the collar and his neck. Even if you get the collar off of him in time to save his life, severe trauma to his throat could cause Kitty to develop a pulmonary edema. This fluid build-up in his lungs could make breathing difficult for him.
Cats have the special ability to get into situations that aren't always safe. He'll play under the bed, tackle your mini-blinds or squeeze under a fence. All of these pose the risk of his collar getting hung up. This could mean he gets stuck somewhere you can't find him. Worst-case scenario, it could mean he manages to strangle himself. Collars intended for dogs have sturdy, tight-fitting latches. Your kitty should have a break-away or stretch collar. A break-away collar has a latch that can be easily snapped open or an elastic band that breaks should Kitty get hung up and have to struggle. A stretch collar has enough give that Kitty will be able to get out of it if he ever gets tangled up. Using a collar intended for Kitty will keep him safe.
Since collars intended for cats are made to slip off, sometimes even going through the effort of identifying your kitty could prove fruitless. Microchipping allows Kitty to always have his ID, even if he manages to get out of his collar. It involves injecting a rice-sized microchip under his skin at his scruff. The tiny chip is programmed with your and Kitty's personal information. A quick scan at his vet or local shelter can mean a happy reunion with your furry escapee. They're relatively inexpensive, permanent and easy to administer. However, some readers may not be able to read all chips, and since it isn't visible it won't help your well-meaning neighbor. While Kitty should still always wear a collar and tag, a microchip can provide a second line of defense when it comes to bringing your feline pal home.