This is a nice picture of the inside of a black cat’s ear flap showing a tattoo of what appears to be this symbol: φ . It is an alternative way of telling people that the cat has been spayed or neutered. The usual way is to ‘ear tip’ – cut off the tip of the left ear flap (pinna or auricle). The latter method, athough destructive and aesthetically unappealing, is probably better beccause anyone can see it quickly and from a distance.
This helps to protect stray and feral cats because people know they are part of a colony managed by volunteers practicing TNR. This means they should not be ill-treated. TNR managed feral cat colonies are sometimes registered with the local authority and accepted by the city’s or county’s administrators. If they are not the public can still be reassured that cats with indentifications like these are looked after and are not breeding. They should not be considered to be a problem to the community.
An apparent alternative sign is the one below:
There is a perception by some people that feral cats spread disease. It is a very negative attitude. People spread more disease to other people than cats. Covid-19 is an excellent example dare I say. I’ll assume that the tattoo was inserted by a veterinarian or vet tech at a spay a neuter clinic operating low cost, bulk spay and neuter. These professionals do fantastic work to help look after feral cats. It is an obligation and a duty to care for them because humans put them on the streets and in run down industrial estates through their carelessness in domestic cat ownership.
When the cat ear tattoo is a number it is an alternative to microchipping i.e. a way of tracing the owner. Both these forms of cat tattoos are rare. The picture above is meant to be a cat ID tattoo but I not sure how it works as it is an abstract mark.
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