Get Your Feline Friend Licensed. The Step-by-Step Guide to Pet Licensing Your Cat


A pet license is a legal requirement in most areas for cat owners to register their pets and provide up-to-date identification information. Licensing cats is an important responsibility for pet owners for several reasons:

  • Licensing helps reunite lost pets with their owners. Animal control or shelters can scan a licensed pet’s ID tag or microchip and access the owner’s contact information to return lost cats.
  • Licensing indicates pets have up-to-date rabies vaccinations, which is crucial for community health and safety.
  • License fees help support animal shelters and control centers that care for stray and abandoned animals.
  • Some areas provide local benefits like waived impound fees or discounts on veterinary care for licensed pets.

Overall, licensing provides an extra layer of protection for pets and gives cat owners peace of mind. It’s an essential part of being a responsible pet owner in most regions.

Check Local Laws

Before getting a license for your cat, you’ll need to research the specific cat licensing laws for your local city or county. Licensing requirements and fees can vary greatly depending on where you live.

For example, Los Angeles County requires all cats over 4 months of age to be licensed, with annual license fees of $15-$100 depending on whether the cat is spayed/neutered. Proof of rabies vaccination and sterilization are required. See the Los Angeles County Animal Care website for full details on licensing in LA County.

Other cities or counties may not require licensing at all for indoor cats. Do a web search for “cat licensing [your city or county]” to find the relevant information for your local laws. You may need to contact your local animal control agency or municipal clerk’s office to get definitive answers on cat licensing requirements in your area.

Knowing the specific cat licensing rules where you live is an essential first step before getting your cat licensed.

When to License

In most areas, pet licenses are required for cats once they reach a certain age, usually around 4-6 months old. For example, according to Los Angeles County Animal Care, “Dog and cat licenses are an important means of identification and can help cats older than four months of age must be vaccinated against rabies.” This ensures kittens have received their necessary vaccinations before being licensed.

Some counties or cities may have different rules on when licensing is required. For instance, King County, Washington states pet licenses are mandatory for “all dogs and cats eight weeks of age or older.” So be sure to check your local county or city laws to determine the exact age your kitten needs to be licensed.

In general, licensing should be done as soon as your kitten reaches the required age per local laws, which is usually 4-8 months old. Don’t wait longer than necessary, as penalties may apply for unlicensed pets.

License Application Process

The license application process typically requires cat owners to complete an application form and submit it along with proof of current rabies vaccination and payment of the license fee. Here is an overview of what’s typically needed:

Proof of Rabies Vaccine – Most areas require current rabies vaccination as a prerequisite for licensing. The license application will ask for details like the date of vaccination and the vaccine manufacturer.

Completed Application Form – The licensing authority provides an application form to fill out. This collects information like the owner’s name, address, contact details, and a description of the cat. Some counties have online applications.

License Fee Payment – There is a license fee that must be paid, typically $10 to $20 annually. Some areas have discounts for spayed/neutered or senior cats. Fees are usually paid by check or money order.

Overall the license application requires basic information about the cat owner and pet, proof of rabies vaccination, and fee payment. The process varies slightly by location but those are the key components.

Where to Apply

To apply for a pet license for your cat, you’ll need to submit the application in person at your local animal care and control office or city clerk’s office. This includes going to places like:

  • The animal care and control department for your city or county (e.g. Los Angeles County Animal Care)
  • Your city treasurer’s office (e.g. Virginia Beach City Treasurer’s Office)
  • The city clerk’s office for your municipality

You can find the address and contact information for your local office on your city or county website. For example, Los Angeles County residents can visit to locate their nearest animal care center.

Some jurisdictions may allow you to mail in your license application after downloading and filling out the form. However, most require visiting the office in-person for new licenses to show proof of rabies vaccination and other documentation.

License Fees

According to the City of Sacramento, cat license fees depend on whether the cat is spayed/neutered or unaltered/intact. The fees are as follows:

  • 1-year license: $20 for spayed/neutered, $80 for unaltered/intact
  • 2-year license: $32 for spayed/neutered, $128 for unaltered/intact
  • 3-year license: $51 for spayed/neutered, $205 for unaltered/intact

Fees may vary by city and county. The City of Long Beach, for example, charges $7 for a spayed/neutered 1-year cat license and $60 for an unaltered 1-year cat license.

Renewing the License

Pet licenses need to be renewed annually, often with a renewal window between spring and summer. For example, in Los Angeles County pet licenses must be renewed each year between April 1 and June 30 to avoid late fees (

The renewal process is similar to the initial application. Pet owners can renew the license online, by mail, or in-person. Proof of rabies vaccination is required for renewal. Discounted license fees are available for spayed/neutered and senior pets.

Some municipalities offer multi-year or lifetime licenses as a renewal option. For instance, King County, WA allows pet owners to purchase a license that is valid for the pet’s lifetime ( This can save money compared to renewing annually.

Renewing on time is important to avoid late fees. In Baltimore County, MD pet licenses expire on April 30 each year and must be renewed by July 31 to avoid monetary penalties (

Lifetime Licenses

Some places offer the option for pet owners to purchase a lifetime license for their cat rather than renewing the license annually. For example, according to the Virginia state code, lifetime licenses can be issued for either dogs or cats in place of an annual license (§ 3.2-6528). Lifetime pet licenses provide convenience to the owner since they do not need to renew the license every year. However, not all locations offer this option. Pet owners will need to check with their local animal control agency to see if lifetime licenses are available for cats in their jurisdiction.

Benefits of Licensing

There are several benefits to licensing your cat, the main one being it provides proof of ownership. If your cat gets lost and ends up at an animal shelter or veterinary clinic, having a license tag or microchip will allow staff to contact you and reunite you with your pet.

Licensing also helps support local animal shelters and control programs. Revenue from license fees often goes toward caring for stray and abandoned animals. So getting a license for your cat contributes to animal welfare efforts in your community.

Additionally, some areas may offer benefits like discounted veterinary care or waived impoundment fees for licensed pets. This provides extra motivation for pet owners to properly license their cats.

Licensing lets your local animal services department know how many pets reside in the area. This allows them to plan and budget for animal care and control programs more effectively.

So while cat licensing is usually mandatory, it also comes with advantages for both you and your community. Ensuring your cat wears its license tag can provide peace of mind by making it easier to get your pet back if it becomes lost.

Failure to License Penalties

Failing to license your cat can result in fines or other penalties, depending on where you live. In Los Angeles County, not licensing your cat is considered a misdemeanor and can result in a fine of up to $1000 according to the Los Angeles County Animal Care website. The city of Long Beach also imposes a $15 penalty fee if you fail to renew your cat’s license on time according to their pet licensing page. On a Reddit thread, users discuss cities like San Clemente and Dana Point also enforcing licensing laws and penalties[1].

The penalties for not licensing your cat can vary widely based on your location, so it’s important to check your local laws. But in many areas, failing to license can result in fines of $15-1000, so licensing your cat is crucial to avoid these penalties.

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