Ear tipping is not cruel because the benefits outweigh the detriments and, if it is done under anaesthetic which it almost always is, it is painless to the cat. There is one other issue which is that it spoils the cat’s appearance to a certain extent. Some people don’t like this. But I think it is pretty well impossible to say that ear tipping is cruel because, at the end of the day, it is done in the interests of the cat’s health and welfare.
Ear tipping is carried out when a community cat has been through the trap-neuter-return process (TNR) including spaying or neutering and vaccinating.
This means that colony caretakers know which cat has been through the process which helps to manage the colony. Ear tipping also allows the local authorities to know that an individual cat is a community cat and part of a managed colony. This helps to ensure that people who manage the colony are complying with the law if there are laws concerning trap-neuter-return programs.
Cats who have been ear tipped are lucky feral cats. They have a human caretaker who is a volunteer who looks out for them, feeds them and who has ensured that they can no longer procreate. I think that it might be fair to say that feral cats who have been ear tipped are probably less likely to be abused because they have a status in that they no longer contribute to the so called ‘feral cat problem’ of creating more cats.
Usually the left ear is ear tipped. About a quarter of the ear flap is removed. Although I have seen some ear tipping which has been quite brutal in that too much of the ear flap has been removed.
Photo source: Pinterest and in the public domain.