If you're taking your cat in to be spayed or neutered, you might have heard that veterinarians sometimes perform a secondary surgical procedure called ear tipping. If you're wondering what this procedure is and whether your cat will have its ears tipped during its neuter or spay surgery, read on to learn more about this procedure.
What Are Tipped Ears?
The term ear tipping refers to taking a small portion of a cat's ear off, or making a small incision into the ear, giving the appearance of a notched ear. Ears are tipped while a cat is under anesthesia from being spayed or neutered, so they don't feel any pain while the procedure is being performed. Cats are also typically medicated with enough pain killers so they won't experience any discomfort following the procedure, so they may never even notice that their ear has been tipped.
Why Are Ears Tipped?
Ear tipping is a form of signaling to animal professionals as well as people caring for feral cats that an animal has been spayed or neutered. In many communities, animal control allows cats to roam so long as they've been fixed so that they're not adding unwanted kittens to the homeless cat population. Having a tipped ear lets any professional cat trappers know that the animal should be released, rather than brought in to the animal shelter.
In addition, many people volunteer their own time to help spay and neuter homeless street cats. In these instances, volunteers will set out traps for animals to bring in any they catch to be spayed or neutered and released back into the local population. They can also recognize the ear tipping as a sign that they don't need to try and bring in the cat they've just caught.
Should Your Cat Have its Ears Tipped?
If your cat is allowed to go outdoors, having its ears tipped can help to signal to others that it's fixed. However, it isn't necessary for pets to have their ears tipped. If your cat has been microchipped, you may be able to add an additional field of information onto its microchip alerting veterinarians and animal control - should they catch your cat - that your cat is not only owned, but has already been spayed or neutered. In the end, it's each pet parent's choice as to whether or not they choose to have their cat's ears tipped.
Ear tipping is a minor surgical procedure that doesn't induce any serious pain or additional recovery time. If you have a stray cat that needs to be fixed, talk to veterinarians at clinics like Coastal Carolina Animal Hospital about opting in for ear tipping while they're under anesthesia.