The heartbreaking experience of having a pet going missing is more common than most people think – studies show that around 10-15% of owners lose their pet at least once in a 5-year period.

Some lost pets are never found. Having an ID tag with your phone number is the fastest way your pet can be returned.  An ID tag means that neighbours can return your pet quickly before it is hit by a car or vanishes further afield. For a lost pet like Merlin, a collar and ID tag with the correct phone number can be a lifesaver. Read Merlin’s story

Identification is important even for indoor only pets – researchers found that 40% of lost cats were “indoor-only pets with no access to the outdoors” according to the owner.

Research shows that most cats successfully wear collars and tolerate them better than their owners anticipated. The key is to regularly check the collar fits snuggly, so a paw or mouth cannot get accidently caught.

Microchips are also important if the ID tag is lost. Make sure your pet has a microchip, and the contact details are correct. Research by our Director, Emeritus Professor Rand found that 37% of microchips in lost dogs and cats have incorrect contact details recorded on the data base. Click here to read the research.

Summary of main findings of this paper: Problems Associated with the Microchip Data of Stray Dogs and Cats Entering RSPCA Queensland Shelters

Authors: Emily Lancaster, Jacquie Rand, Sheila Collecott and Mandy Paterson

For 37% of lost dogs and cats, the owners contact details on the microchip data base were incorrect.

Incorrect details or no microchip significantly reduced the pet’s changes of being reunited with their owner

  • 87% of dogs and 61% of cats that had the owners’ correct contact details were reclaimed
  • Only 69% of dogs and 33% of cats with incorrect contact details were reclaimed
  • For dogs and cats with no microchip, just 37% of dogs and a miniscule 5% of cats were reclaimed
  • Cats with no data problems had 31 times higher odds of being reclaimed than those with no microchip

Click here for the full paper

How can identification make a difference?

Identification can be the difference between life and death for your pet.

In many states of Australia, unidentified stray animals can be euthanased in as little as 3 days. For cats, this is before most owners start to look for their lost cat.

What can I do?

Seven ways to keep your pet safe

  • Make sure your pet is wearing an ID tag with your correct phone number so it can be returned quickly if it is found.
  • Make sure your pet has a registered microchip with the correct details. Only 5% of cats with no microchip, and 33% of those with incorrect details, make it back to their owners. If you know your pet’s microchip number, you can check your contact details through Pet Address ( If you don’t know the microchip number, ask your vet to scan your pet to find the number.
  • Cats tolerate collars better than their owners expect. Regularly check that your cat’s collar fits snuggly, so they can’t accidentally catch a paw or their mouth in it.
  • Even if your pet lives indoors, they still need to wear an ID tag – an amazing 40% of lost cats are indoor-only pets, with no access to the outdoors.
  • If your cat goes missing, ask neighbours if you can search their property. 75% of lost cats are within 500 meters of their home, and half are within a two-house radius.
  • For extra security, there are a number of “smart” GPS 3G trackers available which track your pet’s movements, and can alert you via an App on your mobile phone when they leave your property. Check out this one by one of our supporters, Microchips Australia who sell the Petrek 3G 
  • You can donate to the Australian Pet Welfare Foundation and help us raise awareness on your behalf.

If your pet is lost, begin searching immediately even for cats. In most Australian States, the minimum holding period is only 3 days. After that date, an unidentified pet can be euthanased. Click here for effective ways to search for a lost pet.