Perhaps you saw the recent news article about a Calico cat that showed up on the shores of Governor’s Island in New York, making finders suspicious that it swam all the way from New Jersey. If you haven’t yet read the article, feel free to indulge yourself, but if you do, please read critically!
Now aside from the fact that it is impressive to think of a cat swimming that kind of distance, there are a few aspects of the article that I find amusing and others that I find disturbing.
As a native New Yorker, I cannot help but be amused by the line, “Never underestimate a cat who wants to get out of Jersey” given the ongoing rivalry that New Yorkers have with Jersey folk.
Now to move on to the more important issues…
- This cat shows up as a stray with no collar and yet no one brought it in to be checked for a microchip!
Coming from a background of working in animal shelters, I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to read this. A collar, while a good form of identification, should not be the only form of identification on the animal. Microchips are, by far, the best way to identify a pet and get it returned to its owner.
Why is that?
While not ever owner chooses to put a collar on their cat, fact of the matter is, a significant majority of the collars that are sold and pet stores are “safety” collars — collars that are intended to open of enough stress is put on the collar. The benefits of safety collars is that if a cat gets its collar caught some where, the collar will break away and fall off before your cat has the chance to choke itself in an effort to get free.
I maintain that collars are a great form of identification as they clearly indicate an “owned” animal. But fact of the matter is, these collars can come off. So whenever an animal is found as a stray, before you convince yourself to take it home and become the newest member of your family, take it to a local animal shelter or veterinarian to be scanned for a microchip. Wouldn’t you be happier seeing your new furry friend returned to it’s owner, someone who is likely worried sick and searching desperately for their beloved pet?
- Why do people think that it is good to feed a cat tuna and only tuna?
It’s truly baffling, but fact of the matter is, tuna cannot provide a cat with complete nutrition. If there is one thing I took away from my vet school nutrition class at UC Davis it is that cats need taurine, an essential amino acid that they are unable to produce on their own.
Tuna contains no taurine!
Because of that, cats cannot subsist on tuna alone. They need a more well balanced diet.
Don’t get me wrong, tuna can be a nice special treat for a cat on rare occasions, but it should not be the sole source of nutrition for cats.
- Get your pets collars and identification tags. If you have a cat, get it a break-away collar and a tag with its name and a phone number to reach you at. Don’t think that just because you have an indoor only cat that you don’t need a collar or tag — you do! Believe me, I’ve spent many years in shelters and it’s not uncommon for indoor only cats to escape and get loose. With no identification (tag or microchip) the chances of that cat being returned to you is slim to none. So err on the side of safety and get your cat a collar with some identification.
- Microchip your pets. I cannot tell you how much it makes my day when I’m working in a shelter and get a new animal in that scans positive for a microchip. Those animals have a much higher chance of getting returned to their owner than animals that show up in shelters without identification. I remember a dog that came into my shelter after being hit by a car and was seemingly paralyzed. Because that dog had a microchip we were able to get the owner’s contact information from the microchip company and we contacted the owner while we were treating the dog. The owner was there within an hour to pick up the dog who was regaining function of its hind legs and bring her to an emergency vet where she made a full recovery. That was an ideal situation and, to me, reason enough to microchip my pets. But don’t forget to register the microchip with the company so that your information will be on file and accessible should your pet become lost at some point.
- Feed your pets a well-balanced diet. Fact of the matter is, most pet food companies do a lot of research when they develop food products for pets. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations.