False Feral Cat Ear Clipping (tipping)

Are some people who care for feral cat colonies clipping the ears of cats to give the impression that the cat is neutered (although they are not), which helps to protect the cat from being trapped and euthanised? I have no idea. Neutered (male) and spayed (female) cats do not present a problem to a community of people as they are part of a controlled feral cat colony. For that reason, they should be treated as community cats and left alone.

Feral cat ear clipping

Feral cat ear clipping. Photo by tess/.

The allegation comes from Woodsman in a comment that I will not publish. I know we should give little credence to what he says. He is a heartless bastard and cat killer but it could just be true and I would like to see if I can receive some sort of feedback on the comment. Note to Woodsman: don’t bother to comment unless you keep it polite and provide some hard facts and proof.

If it is being done by some misguided but big-hearted feral cat carers, it is wrong. It will damage the long term prospects of TNR programmes. It is imperative that TNR is shown to work. The way to do that is to carry it out properly, thoroughly and for a long time, with the backing of local authorities, ideally.

Clipping the left ear of a feral cat is a sign that the cat has been neutered (male) or spayed (female). Sometimes the right ear is clipped. The procedure is carried out by the vet at the time the cat is sterilised. It should only be carried out by a vet for obvious reasons. There is a procedure that minimises pain and bleeding.

The top quarter inch of the left ear is cut in a straight line using sharp surgical scissors. It has been found to be the best way to identify sterilised feral cats as you can identify the cat from a distance. Taking photos of the cats, or ear tattoos and ear tags are all less effective, we are told.

Eartipping is a form of mutilation but a necessary compromise in managing feral cat colonies.


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False Feral Cat Ear Clipping (tipping) — 14 Comments

  1. Michael I think woody is making it up – he has said so many blanket things that are obviously not true like people on farms shooting a cat if it’s 50 yards away from the barn – total nonsense even if it happened once or one person said it he made it sound like a common occurence. I don’t think I need to go into his claims of so called popular methods for dealing with cats that nobody has ever heard of – it’s just hard to believe anything he says and he does come up with alot of stuff. Sadly I for one will never know if any of it is true because of all the bollocks and rudeness that surrounds most of what he says. If there was a tiny fleck of reality in there it would just get lost.

    • I agree with you. I just think the topic needs to be explored. I have a feeling that it might happen on occasions. Don’t know why I have that feeling. Probably just being a cynical old man.

      • I think it might if it were possible but how would somebody clip a cat’s ear if not when already being operated on at the vet – thats my question. It’s not practical, especially with outdoor un-neutered cats. I agree with you that it may be a case of they would if they could. But can they…

        • I can see people just doing it as if they were cutting paper with scissors because the ear flap is thin and there is not much blood in it etc. Maybe I am being too imaginative!

          • I’m going to have to agree with your being ‘too imaginative’ on this one. I just can’t see a cat allowing it, especially an unfixed outdoor cat. I certainly couldn’t do it to any of mine and they trust me entirely.

  2. I think Woody is making this up! I’d like to see anyone pick up a feral cat and the cat allow them to cut the tip off his ear, it’s just too impossible to imagine, a feral cat would scratch and bite the person. If you’ve ever had hold of a frightened angry feral cat you’d know it’s impossible to do anything to him without anaesthetic. Even a feral kitten turns into a spitting hissing fury as his instinct tells him people can be dangerous.
    No one caring for feral cats would trap one simply to cut the tip off his ear anyway, anyone who cares enough to work with feral TNR would take the trapped cat to a vet to be neutered for sure.
    Woody is a nasty mean minded person who will say anything to get at people who care about cats, he is poison incarnate!

    • I agree with you but I like to think we can air anything and be completely transparent in our discussions. This give us strength because a lot of stuff in the cat world is brushed under the carpet.

  3. It just doesn’t seem possible to me. Monty knows me, but I have permanent scars on my arm to remind me to never come between him and his prey again. I don’t think anyone could come successfully between a feral cat and the tip of his ear. Tiny kittens though? This assumes you could find them (mom would hide them well) and catch them (even little ones can be hard to catch. What person who truly cared about cats would just cut the ear tip off the kitten (who is going to struggle) and then put him back? Kittens who are young enough to be caught are young enough to be tamed. Those cats are usually removed from the colony, fostered and put up for adoption. If you’d go to the trouble to catch the cat, you would spay the cat. If you were short on funds to spay and neuter you would wait until you have the money, then start trapping cats again. To catch or trap cats just to cut the ear makes no sense. It would undermine the cat carers own efforts, because later on how do you know who needs to be spayed? There are bad carers who just feed cats without trapping any to be neutered. That is not good. But most of those people don’t even know about TNR. They are trying to help out, but if they aren’t altering any of those cats it can turn into a huge problem. They are misguided, but they aren’t going to be dishonest. You can’t create the impression of a stable feral cat colony with a few clipped ears. The growing number of cats and kittens would pretty much give it away.

  4. Oh cool. That discussion is still online, they only changed the way I originally found it, it needs to be found by other means now:

    Scroll down to and expand the post by Chris Cook.

    • The idea that anyone would eartip an indoor-outdoor pet, who isn’t a community cat, was the testimony from ab hysterical person vehemently opposing “The Eartipped Cats” amendment to the Prince George’s County MD Animal Control Code, known as “CB-41”. The ‘fake-feral’ statement is a gem from the November 21, 2012 PG Council hearing, where the CB-41 passed 7-1. CB-41 forbids Animal Control from trapping/capturing eartipped/community cats and requires AC to contact a feral cat group to retrieve any eartipped cat brought into the Pound; there are 3 contact groups and they have retrieved some 15+ cats since the law became effective in February 2013. The testimony is available through the PG Counci.

      • Thank you very much for the information. It was nice of you to take time to share it and clarify the situation. I believe that it always pays to discuss these things in the open.

        • It’s a mutilated cat either way. How did this perversion of eartipping get started when a holepunch or small nick in the edge of ear is just as visible? How is removing a significant portion of the ear- a vital sense organ, permissible in terms of an animal returned to the wilderness?
          There should be a class action suit against those humane societies endorsing & performing such damaging & disfiguring procedures on helpless cats.

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