Pet owners are submitting their cats to cosmetic surgery to give them cartoonish Mickey Mouse ears

Is this story true? If it is true, it’s not good. We know that some breeders change the shape of their dog’s ears; called ear-cropping but this does not happen with cats except for feral cats under TNR programmes in which the top 20% of the left ear flap is removed surgically.

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The Mail Online reports that “Pet owners are putting their dogs and cats through painful cosmetic procedures to give them cartoonish ‘Mickey Ears’ as vets slam the procedure as cruel and unnecessary”. That’s what this newspaper reports but I have a query about that headline and about their article because around eight years ago I wrote about a cat with Mickey Mouse ears. It was a photoshopped version of an ordinary domestic cat. I know that because I found the original. You can see the photoshopped image and the original by clicking on the link below.

RELATED: Cat With Mickey Mouse Ears

So, the question I have is whether the Mail Online has had the wool pulled over their eyes or whether they know that this is not real and they are going along with it because it is an interesting story. They got the story from the South China Morning Post. I wonder whether this newspaper has been tricked or whether this is genuine? The adverts for the procedure look genuine but the finished example looks fake.

There are some signs that this is photo-editing. Look at the picture below of a domestic cat with ears that have been ostensibly cut into a round shape.

Rounded ear flaps on a domestic cat. Were they photo-edited or is this the result of surgery?
Image: Weibo. These ears look photoshopped but I could be wrong.

Look at the top edges of the ears. They look entirely intact and normal. If the the ears had been genuinely surgically altered they would not have those ridges on the top edges that we so clearly see. They would have been removed. This indicates photo-editing.

The Mail Online reports that the so-called surgical procedure requires two separate phases. First the cat are put under an anaesthetic for a 30-minute operation to cut the ear. In the second stage the result is styled which can take between 20-60 days and requires frequent adjustments to ensure that the ear stays in the correct position. Sounds wrong to me and fabricated. But this may be the time when the edges I refer to above are ‘styled’ into the finished product.

They say the procedure is rare but it can be common in breeding facilities and dog kennels.

The Mail Online also re-publishes an advert from the Weibo website (see infographic above). This is a large social media website in China. And it shows the ear of a cat being surgically altered. Or that is what it is meant to be.

The paper also reports that unlicensed online shops have been selling instruments to pet owners to carry out the procedure themselves. The story has provoked outrage among animal advocates and many others because it is entirely unnecessary.

You may know that feral cats under TNR programs have the tip of their left ear cut off to tell people that the cat has been spayed, neutered and vaccinated under the programme. After the operation the cat doesn’t feel pain as far as I know.

There is a veterinary clinic in south-western China which sells Mickey Ear clamps for sale and they can be delivered before the Spring Festival.

If this is genuine, it wouldn’t be allowed in the UK or in any other country where there are decent animal welfare laws. In China there are no such laws. The fact that dog ear cropping is illegal in England and Wales does not stop it happening by the way. The RSPCA reported a significant rise in the procedure.

Dog ear cropping.
Ear-cropped Dobermann. Image: BVA.

The alteration of ear shape of dogs will be legal in some other countries. It is sometimes carried out by dog breeders without veterinarian intervention. Certain breeds of dog have there ears cropped to make them more pointed to give the dog a more aggressive appearance and therefore it applies to dogs which are aggressive-looking such as the XL Bully and the Dobermann.

RELATED: American veterinarian criticises fellow vets for doing non-essential surgery such as declawing and tail docking

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