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Stray Cat Ear Tipping ....
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Stray Cat Ear Tipping ....

My friend's stray cat was recently spayed for free at a licensed clinic.  When they picked up the cat after her surgery, they were shocked to see that part of the cat's ear was cut off (ear tipping). Nobody ever told them about this procedure -- is it painful for the cat afterwards for the ear to heal?

Is this absolutely necessary when a stray is neutered for free at a clinic?  

Wouldn't the staff or the Vet mention this to their client before the procedure so this type of confusion wouldn't happen.

She is healthy and safe, healing well, and my friend has newly adopted the cat .. we just wondered if this is always done because this seems so cruel to do to a pet.

Thanks,

C & L
Type of Animal
:  
cat
Age of Animal
:  
< 1
Sex of Animal
:  
Female
Breed of Animal
:  
mixed breed siamese/tabby
Last date your pet was examined by a vet?
:  
December 10, 2009
Related Discussions
Avatar_dr_m_tn
Hi ChitChat,  What country was this done in?  In the US?  Personally, in 34 years of practice, I have never heard of this!!  If it is as you say I think it would be considered unnecessary and inhumane.  I would never do such a thing.  I have volunteered in spay and neuter clinics and no such practice was done.  

I also think that if this was done without your knowledge or permission it is highly questionable. If this is a policy, it should be stated on their literature, and you should have been made aware of it.   Please have them look back at the information and see if they were notified of the procedure.  If so, not much recourse.  If not, I would question them.  

I do think it adds pain and time for healing an unnecessary wound.  I'm surprised.  

6 Comments
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931674_tn?1283485296
I respectfully disagree, ear tipping is a common practice when feral cats are neutered, in order to permanently indicate that they have been sterilized. That way in the future when they are re-trapped, they are not put through unnecessary surgery. With the thousands and thousands of feral cats in the US, the time and resources of free spay/neuter services need to be allocated appropriately. Looking for a faint incision line is not as accurate, and tattoos cost money and time to apply and can be obscured. Your friend received a free surgery for her cat, a wonderful service-- did she advise the clinic that the cat was a stray that would be re-released, or that it was a cat that she found and wanted to keep? I suspect that she stated it was a stray so that she could get the free surgery. Fortunately, the cat is now altered and has a nice home, and your friend has a nice cat, these are the important things.
Kimberly Coyner, DVM DACVD
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931674_tn?1283485296
One more comment that I found online at http://www.sniksnak.com/cathealth/eartipping.html


Ear Tipping of Feral Cats - Universally Accepted


The following information about ear tipping of feral cats is written by Julie Levy, DVM, PhD, ACVIM at College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida for web use for our organization. She sent the photo of an ear tipped cat to accompany her article. We wish to thank Dr. Levy for granting Pawprints and Purrs, Inc. expressed written permission to reprint this excellent info.
Ear tipping is the only reliable choice for identifying sterilized feral cats. I have been working with feral cats for 15 years now in California, North Carolina, and Florida in programs that have sterilized and ear tipped more than 7,000 feral cats.

Trap-neuter-return (TNR) has become a national grass roots movement for the humane control of feral cats. Alley Cat Allies has a mailing list of more than 60,000 individuals and 2,000 organizations participating in TNR. One thing that is very important is that all groups working with feral cats agree on a universal method of identifying sterilized animals. Feral cats may interact with a variety of caretakers, vets, and animal control people during their lives. If every group has a different method of identifying the animals, there is no way to interpret what the marks mean. It is very traumatic for a feral cat to be retrapped and transported unnecessarily because of unclear markings. Even worse would be the euthanasia of a sterilized feral cat becuase of uncertainty about the significance of a marking or the failure to notice a mark at all.

Although I have heard animal welfare activists complain that ear tipping is inhumane, I have to disagree. It is performed under anesthesia at the same time as a major surgery and is certainly less traumatic than a spay or neuter. The worst possible thing is to perform unnecessary surgery on a cat that is already spayed or neutered because it was not marked with a universally recognized symbol, and this I have done. This is NOT equivalent to ear cropping for cosmetic reasons in dogs.

I have previously used tattoos and microchips to identify individual cats, but this must be done in addition to ear tipping. Tattoos are frequently unreadable in feral cats unless they are anesthetized, and microchips often fail to be detected if the cat is in a metal trap. Many people forget that tattoo equipment should be autoclaved between each cat to prevent the spread of FELV, FIV, and other infections. Cold sterilization will not work when there is blood, tattoo ink, and hard to clean crevices on equipment. I have also used various ear tags and buttons designed for mice and rabbits, but these became infected or fell out too often.

Rest assured that ear tipping is considered essential by experienced feral cat advocates and is endorsed by all the major humane groups.

Julie Levy, DVM, PhD, ACVIM
College of Veterinary Medicine
2015 SW 16th Avenue Box 100126
University of Florida
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Avatar_dr_m_tn
Thanks very much Dr. Coyner for the information.  I was not aware of this.  However, I assumed from the beginning that this was an owned cat, not a TNR cat.  

If I adopted a cat and had it spayed (even at the free clinic) I would not want its ears tipped.  But in a TNR situation, I do see the logic.  

I hope this was a rescue / adopted cat and they let her know this was their procedure and was not done without her knowledge.  
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168348_tn?1379360675
Hi and thank you all for your great info!

The cat was definitely a stray young cat living outside.  My friend's intentions were to continue to let the cat live outside after she had her procedure.  But after the surgery, when she was allowed inside the house to heal, they fell in love with her as a family pet --this lucky cat has found a wonderfully new, unexpected home!

C~
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Avatar_dr_m_tn
Well I applaud anyone who rescues and adopts pets.  Even someone who volunteers to spay or neuter then release.  So I understand the need to permanently ID these pets.  

I hope your friend enjoys the new family member - tipped or not!!  

Dr. Coyner is the best!!
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