What You Should Know About Ear Tipping For Feral Cats

If you're currently considering having a neighborhood feral cat taken in to the vet, you may have heard about a surgical procedure called ear tipping. This procedure is often misunderstood, but it serves an important purpose that can help to protect feral cats. If you want to learn more, keep reading to discover what ear tipping is all about.

When It's Performed

Ear tipping is a procedure where the top of the ear is either surgically clipped off or a small incision is made in it. The procedure is performed on feral cats when they're brought in to be spayed or neutered. While pet cats typically never have their ears tipped, veterinarians do it for feral cats that are too wild to be adopted. If you're working on socializing your feral cat or already have plans to make it a part of your household after it's been fixed, make sure to talk to your veterinarian about this so that ear tipping isn't automatically performed.

Why It's Important

Ear tipping is a signal to veterinarians and other people who want to do right by the feral cat community. Many people work to bring in feral cats to have them spayed or neutered by veterinarians and then proceed to release them back into the community. Doing so can prolong a cat's life, since fixed cats will no longer be pursued by other intact feral cats who want to breed.

Ear tipping indicates that a cat has been spayed or neutered to vets and other caregivers. Although it's sometimes possible to tell if a male cat has been neutered visibly, it can be difficult if the cat won't let you get a good look at their rear. In addition, there is no physical signal that female cats have been spayed.

If a caregiver or vet sees that the ear has been tipped, they can release the cat or refrain from the surgical procedure, respectively. This will keep the cat from being needlessly exposed to stress and/or new incisions.


If you don't want your feral cat to get their ear tipped, there is an alternative. You can ask your veterinarian to instead place a small tattoo on your cat. Unfortunately, this choice won't let other feral cat caregivers know that the cat has been fixed. However, if taken into a vet, they will be able to see the tattoo once the fur has been shaved off in preparation for the surgery. This will allow the kitty to still avoid being operated on needlessly, so it's a good choice if you don't want their ears tipped.

Ear tipping is a safe pet surgical procedure that's performed at the same time as feral fixing. While it may initially seem mean, the kitty won't experience any discomfort since the procedure is performed while they're under general anesthesia. Talk to a veterinarian about getting your neighborhood feral cat's ear tipped while they're being fixed.