Cat identification: chip or tattoo? Is it mandatory?

 Cat identification: chip or tattoo? Is it mandatory?

Cat identification: chip or tattoo? Is it mandatory?

Identification is an important step when adopting an animal, whether it is a dog or a cat, as are vaccinations and sterilization. In addition to the legally obligatory nature of this formality, the allocation of a unique number to your companion considerably increases the chances of finding him in the event of flight or theft.
Thus, if your cat is taken in by a private individual, found injured, entrusted to the gendarmerie, or even taken to the pound, you can be contacted immediately after reading the tattoo or the electronic chip. So what is the best choice between these two means of identification, and what are the pros and cons?

Why is cat identification mandatory?

Since 2012, any domestic cat over the age of 7 months must be identified by microchip or tattoo. This measure provides statistical visibility of the feline population in France, even if many cats remain unidentified to date by their owners.

However, having your animal identified provides significant security in the event of disappearance, flight, theft, accident, and it is essential if you plan to travel abroad with your cat, even mandatory in some countries. From a legal point of view, identification is also mandatory before selling a cat, for professionals as well as for individuals. So, if your kitty has a litter and you want to sell or even give away the kittens beyond the age of seven months, you will need to have them identified.

If the kittens are younger, be aware that there is a priori no minimum age for the implantation of a microchip and all cats should wear one before leaving the house for the first time. In addition, the non-identification of an animal before the transfer is liable to a fine of 750 €! If you prefer to leave the identification to the responsibility of the future adopter, the mother's chip number or tattoo must appear in your advertisement.

Tattooing, a declining identification practice

The tattoo was for a long time the "traditional" mode of identification for both dogs and cats. Its main advantage is its immediate visibility, unlike the transponder, which requires scanning the chip to obtain the animal's registration number. The tattoo, therefore, has the merit of signaling to anyone finding your cat that it has an owner! However, it has the disadvantage of sometimes fading over time and thus becoming less readable. In addition, the tattoo must be done under anesthesia which necessarily increases the price of the intervention at the veterinarian. For these reasons, it is less and less commonly practiced. The tattoo is most often found inside the cat's right ear and is made up of three letters and three numbers.

What is an electronic chip (or transponder)?

The electronic chip is the most practical and quickest solution today and has gradually replaced the tattoo in recent years. It is a mini transponder enclosed in a capsule, which the veterinarian will inject into the left of the cat's neck with a syringe.

Contrary to some popular belief, the injection is almost painless and the chip is not dangerous for the cat: no, it does not emit waves and rarely moves under the skin! Even if it is not painful, for more comfort, the placement of the chip will often be done during another intervention requiring anesthesia such as sterilization. This allows the veterinarian to "do everything at the same time" but also to avoid stress for the cat. After the installation, your cat's data is transmitted to the I-CAD (National Identification File) and the number carried by the chip will allow the animal to be followed throughout its life.

The transponder can be detected using a special reader held by all veterinarians as well as the gendarmerie, the pound, and animal shelters. When the chip is read, the number is instantly displayed on the screen and, thanks to this number, the owner can be easily found in the National File. This is why it is essential to notify the I-CAD of any change in coordinates. The only disadvantage of the electronic chip is that it cannot be read by individuals, which may suggest that the cat is stray, so it is recommended to wear a collar and a medal for more security.

Identification of a cat: where, when, how? How much does it cost?

Whatever the mode of identification envisaged, it must imperatively be done by the veterinarian. The installation of a microchip can be done at any age and the tattoo from 6 months. Attention, the latter is not sufficient if you plan to travel in Europe, the transponder being required in several countries. Count 60 to 70 € for a chip and 50 to 70 € for a tattoo, the price of which can vary according to the offices and the conditions of intervention.

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