The Crankee Yankee and I have been feeding and sheltering stray cats for over 10 years now. Sometimes it turns out that the “stray” cat has a home and an owner. I don’t mind, but do wish that those who let their cats out would put a collar and *tags on them. Also it’s a very good idea to have them **microchipped as well. A vet can do it easily with no pain to the cat, and should the cat become lost and turned in to a shelter, the first thing they do is to scan the cat for a chip. This way they can contact the owner and let them know that their cat is safe.
When we see a cat with a collar and tags, we then know it belongs to someone and has a home. They are of course always welcome to dine at our house, but this way we don’t worry that it’s a stray or lost.
I am always amazed at how many people don’t feel the need to protect their cats in this way. As dogs have to be registered, they have to have a collar and tags. But somehow cats have become “second-class” citizens and aren’t required to have the same safe practice. Often cat owners who allow their cats to roam without a collar and tags feel that they will be just fine and come home “when they feel like it.”
Many people also feel that as their cats are indoor only that they don’t need to microchip them or put a collar on them. In fact, this was the reason for microchipping in the first place because indoor cats will often make a break for the door. Once they are outside, they have no way of knowing where they are, where ‘home’ is, or what dangers are around them.
A few years back, the Crankee Yankee called me from Pepperell, MA telling me that a cat had run up to him and jumped up on his shoulder and would not be moved. He said that the cat had several scratches, some that had not healed and was quite thin. I told him I would call our vet and for the Crankee Yankee to pick me up at home so we could take care of this cat.
Long story short, “Pepper” was only with us for a bit over nine months. It turned out that he had an incurable heart condition, requiring special medications. He was not chipped so we assumed he was a stray. Our vet took care of his wounds, gave him his vaccinations and a microchip, and he came home to live with us and our other cats. He fit right in.
We kept him in the house and gave him his daily medicines. Twice we had to rush him to the vet as he collapsed and couldn’t breathe well. But in the main, he had a good if short life with us.
About a year or so later after Pepper passed on, the Crankee Yankee was in Pepperell again, and by chance met Pepper’s owners. He found out that Pepper’s real name had been “Sprockett,” and that they just let him roam freely and never looked for him if he didn’t come home. The Crankee Yankee told them Pepper’s story; not to chastise them, but so that they knew what happened to him.
This kind of situation doesn’t need to happen. The long and short of it is this: if you love your cat, get him/her microchipped just in case. Get them a breakaway collar (in case the cat gets hung up on something, the collar will drop off and not hurt the cat) and make sure that they have the proper tags so that the owner is identified.
A pet is a member of the family and should be treated as such.
*One of the first concerns of anyone approaching or feeding what looks like a stray cat is that they may have rabies or some other disease. The collar should have 1) a tag showing that the cat has a microchip, and 2) a tag indicating that the cat has had all the necessary vaccinations and also its owners’ address and phone number.
**We use the Home Again service; you get the cat chipped, then fill out the necessary information on line. The usual information is where the cat lives, sex, weight, coloring, age, and a picture of it and when it became lost.