Identification and Licensing

Cats Get Out, Identification Gets Them Home

Canadian shelters take in approximately twice as many cats each year as dogs and the majority of these cats are unidentified. In 2014, less than 5% of cats were returned to their families. Visual and permanent identification greatly increase the likelihood that a lost cat will be reunited with its client.

  • The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association supports the permanent identification of animals and recommends a microchip using International Standards Organization microchip technology.
  • Microchip implantation is minimally invasive and is well tolerated without the need for sedation. It can be done during any appointment or at the time of routine surgical or dental procedures. Subcutaneous implantation on the dorsal midline just cranial to the scapula is the standard implantation site.
  • The use of collars and name tags in addition to a microchip is extremely valuable but underused. Contrary to popular belief most cats can reliably wear break-away collars safely and comfortably.
  • The benefits of combining permanent identification (e.g., microchip) with visible identification (e.g., break-away collar and tag) should be discussed at all preventive healthcare examinations for all cats, even those that live strictly indoors.
  • At each veterinary visit, the cat should be scanned to make sure the microchip is functional and has not migrated. The microchip number should be recorded in the medical record. At the same time, the veterinary team should confirm that the client has kept the contact information current and complete with the microchip registry. A list of the 1-800 numbers for the various microchip registries should be readily accessible to share with clients.
  • When vaccinated for rabies, a rabies tag for the cat’s collar should be provided along with the vaccination certificate.
  • Encourage clients to include up-to-date photographs and other identification information in the microchip registry.


  • Susan Little, DVM, DABVP (Feline Practice) Bytown Cat Hospital, Ottawa, Ontario
  • Diane McKelvey, DVM, DABVP (Feline Practice) Aberdeen Veterinary Hospital, Kamloops, British Columbia
  • Elizabeth O’Brien, DVM, DABVP (Feline Practice) The Cat Clinic, Hamilton, Ontario
  • Elizabeth Ruelle, DVM, DABVP (Feline Practice) Wild Rose Cat Clinic of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta
  • Kelly St. Denis, MSC, DVM, DABVP (Feline Practice)
  • Margie Scherk, DVM, DABVP (Feline Practice) catsINK, Vancouver, British Columbia

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