Collar ID tags, bells, and magnets
A Collar is a multipurpose device and can be adorned with identification tags, bells, and even magnets
Collars for identification
The main purpose of a collar is so that you can attach an ID tag with your cats details. Providing just your cats name is fairly useless should someone need to get in touch, a good ID tag will have your name, address and telephone contact. Address is quite important for emergencies, for example if your cat has been injured in your street a passer-by can quickly look at the ID tag, see your address and knock on your door.
Tags for collars come in all shapes and sizes and contain ID information either printed, engraved or held in a small container. Although small containers allow you to put in a piece of paper with your details on, they may not be the most practical for all situations. If your cat is injured or distressed it may be difficult for a stranger to undo a container tag and get the information out. Printed or engraved tags are better, although cheaper printed tags may rub off easiliy.
Alternative to microchipping?
Whilst a collar tag can contain all the information that a microchip record does, they are best used as an addition rather than an alternative. Collars and ID tags are prone to being lost or damaged and do not provide a permanent solution in the same way that a microchip does. In disputes of ownership, a collar or ID tag can be easily replaced, but a microchip cannot.
Collar tags also have advantages over microchips, most importantly a microchip can only be read by a professional with a scanner, but an ID tag can be read by anyone. If your cat is injured in the street, the chances of someone walking past with a microchip scanner are virtually zero. Collar ID's provide immediate information to the first person on the scene whilst microchips provide information should your cat be handed in to a vet or rescue centre, or in a dispute of ownership.
This collar has an ID tag and a bell to warn away wildlife
Bells for collars
The primary purpose of placing a bell on a cat's collar is to warn wildlife and prevent or reduce the cat from bringing home caught animals. Although this can work for a while, there is plenty of evidence to show that bells often do not work in the long term. This may be because the cat learns to become even 'stealthier' and a better hunter or that the bell only comes into action in the final 'leap' by which time it is too late.
Magnets for collars
Some cat flaps are designed to stay locked until a magnet passes close by - used in conjunction with a magnet attached to a tag or collar on your cat this means that the cat flap will only open when your cat tries to get through. This type of system can provide a good solution to preventing the neighbor's cat or small dog from getting into your home, unless of course they also have magnets on their collars!