I saw a picture of a feline with a part of his ear missing. I wondered why this happened, and the human had to explain it to me. It was an interesting story that I wanted to pass along to you.
This feline has what is called a tipped ear. You can see that the top of his left ear has been trimmed. What does this mean?
It means that he is a feral cat who has been treated under a trap, neuter, and return program. He will no longer produce any additional felines who will have to live in the wild, and he will not spread many feline diseases.
You humans may wonder why this is done. Because feral cats are very cautious around humans, it is difficult to get close to a feral cat. That means that any type of identification must be able to be seen by a human at a distance. A tipped ear is easily recognizable and can be seen without having to get too close to the feline who has one.
Another question is whether this is painful for the feline or if it’s harmful. The answer to this is that it is not. The feline is already under anesthesia when an ear is tipped. The ear tipping takes place at the same time as the spaying or neutering, so it’s done in a sterile environment as well.
No other method is as effective as ear tipping in identifying a feline who has been treated under a trap, neuter, and return program. Tattoos are not easily visible from a distance. Ear tags can fall off, cause infections, or tear the ear. Collars don’t work because they can fall off, catch on things, or if the feline grows, present a choking hazard. And microchips are not a good solution because they do not allow for visual identification of a feral cat.
The next time you see a feline with a tipped ear, you will know that it is a feral cat who has been treated. Remember, though, that even though a feline may have been treated, it may not react well to a human it does not know, especially if it’s a feral cat.