I have always noticed that the figures for reuniting cat owner with lost cat are much lower than those for dogs. A study in 2011 found that only between 2% and 5% of cats in shelters are reunited with their owners. This should not surprise people because a substantial proportion of cats at shelters don’t have identification. Identification can take the form of a collar and tag or microchip and even occasionally a tattoo on the inside of the cat’s ear flap.
In another study of 2007 it was found that only 19% of lost cats had any kind of identification. This is much lower than for dogs at 48%.
What is also surprising is that 80% of pet owners believe that it is important for their pet to wear some form of identification and yet only around 20% of pets have ID at all times.
The main reason for this in America is that there are many indoor only cats and the owner quite naturally believes that there is no need for any form of identification. That may be a misplaced idea because cats escape. Apparently 10% of pet owners reported that there cat or dog did not wear ID because their pet found the collar uncomfortable. I can sympathise with that thought although at the end of the day it is not a good one. A cat should become comfortable with a collar over time.
So there is a positive attitude towards pet identification and yet a low level of providing some form of identification for a pet. This led to ideas to try and increase the take-up of identifying pets.
In a further study of 2011 pet owners were tested by providing them with free collars and ID at the time of a veterinary or sterilisation clinic visit. Alternatively the free collar and ID was provided at adoption from a shelter. Under the circumstances, 4 to 8 weeks later, there was a significant increase in identification use for both dogs and cats. It seems, therefore, that when pet owners are encouraged they are more inclined to provide identification for their cat or dog.
Although only 44% of participants responded to the post-intervention survey, it was found that for already owned pets the use of ID went from 16% to 84%. With respect to adopted animals it went up to 94%. Although of course if the people who did not respond did not follow through and provide identification for their pet these figures would be substantially lower. Notwithstanding that this survey appears to have been a success. I wonder why it is not been followed up.
There may be a good argument for shelters and veterinary clinics and other agencies involved in providing welfare to pets to supply cat owners with free ID and free collars. Or some other form of encouragement is provided.