Ear Tipping SNUO International
How will you know which cats have been neutered after you have put them back? How will the local authorities know that they are part of a control programme?
The method recommended in most countries is to remove 1 cm from the tip of the left ear. This is done while the cat is anaesthetised, using forceps to stop bleeding after the cut has been made. Cats show no sign of pain or discomfort afterwards, so long as the ear and ear canal have been cleaned of all possible irritants.
When ear-tipping is recognised by everybody as a sign that a feral cat has been neutered, it is good for public relations, and a warning that a cat should not be killed.
Kismet; her left ear had been "tipped"
In several countries of the European Union there are laws against causing mutilations to animals, but the procedure of ear-tipping has in most cases been exempted, because it is of practical use and prevents the worse situation of a cat being subjected to trapping, anaesthesia and surgery for a second time.

Veterinarians may thus use their discretion on whether to tip the ear or not, bearing in mind the best interests of the animal.

This situation also applies to street dogs.
Some veterinarians prefer to use tattoos instead of ear-tipping. This could be a simple large mark on the inside of the ear, visible when the cat is fairly close.
Cat with tatooed earIn control schemes which have been authorised by the local authority, it may be necessary to identify the cats individually in order to give them protection in law. This may be done by tattooing a number on the inside of the ear at the same time as neutering. This will be seen if the cat is re-trapped, and will avoid the risk of the cat being subjected to surgery a second time. Tattooing requires special equipment.

Tattoos fade with time and do not show up on pigmented skin, and in those countries which require identification it is now becoming more usual to insert a microchip. This can be read while the cat is conscious in the TTR using a scanner. However, it is still useful to tip the ear so that it is obvious that the animal has been neutered.
For information on microchips, click here

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