In case you don’t know, ear tipping is cutting off the tip of the left ear of a stray or feral cat to signify that the cat is stray or feral and that the cat has been neutered and possible vaccinated etcetera. Sometimes the ear is notched. It is a very visible marker. It brands a cat. It brands the cat for life so even if the cat becomes domesticated in a great home he/she is was still a feral cat once.
We have a story from a visitor, Roberta. Here it is (she refers to ear tipping which was carried out carelessly):
“It’s because too many humans are freaking HEARTLESS !!!! The same breed of human may easily not want to adopt a cat with an ear chunk gone. CHUNK, not tip. I’ve read “tattoos can’t be seen.” What, is the human blind?? If we can see a jail tatt on an inmate, we can see a tattoo on a kitty’s ear. Most of the populace don’t even know what the ear tip,-ear Chunk means! I paid for a stray cat to be fixed, logged her in as a scared STRAY and she still got ear chunked. Beautiful Himalayan. It just makes me SICK. How’d people like to have parts of them lobbed off?? Now I know if I want to rescue a stray I’ll just tame the dang cat myself and take him/her to my vet and adopt the cat out like I used to.”
She says that there was no need to cut a chunk off the ear of a beautiful cat under these circumstances. There is a better solution such as a tattoo on the inside of the ear. She regrets taking her to a rescue who she would say “objectified” the cat by which I mean treated the cat as an object rather than a beautiful living creature.
Also if her beauty had been retained she’d be more adoptable. Okay, removing the tip of one ear is not the end of the world and she’s still attractive, no doubt. But from a purely aesthetic point of view and from the standpoint of some cat owners she is less attractive and the ear tipping may result in her being rejected for adoption by some.
Ear tipping is important for feral cats but there needs to be care and consideration by shelter staff when deciding to do the operation. If a cat can avoid being branded a stray cat, which carries certain connotations, so much the better.
Dee provides her response to Roberta’s comment:
“I understand your frustration, Roberta. I work, mostly, with colony cats and they must be ear tipped for their own safety. Granted, some ear tipping is more severe than I think it should be.
Stray cats, generally, don’t need taming. It’s ferals that require that sort of work. It’s hard to domesticate ferals, as you may already know. And, there are time frames as well as short windows of opportunity.
If the beautiful Himalayan was, merely, a stray that you were going to bring inside or try to rehome, ear tipping could have been deleted if you asked the TNR group to do so. I don’t know of any that wouldn’t consent.
But, of course, they would want evidence that the cat was inside your home and they would be able to tell if she was feral or not.
Again, tipping is a safety measure so that all animal service groups know that the cat is a part of a TNR program and protected.”
At the very least, when ear tipping is carried out it should be done with respect for the cat with the minimum amount of ear flap removed consistent with the ear tipping being noticeable and it should be avoided if possible. These are my thoughts.