Why clip cats' ears?

Nine Lives are often asked why our vets clip cats’ ears when they are being neutered.

A clipped ear is an easily recognizable mark that shows a stray cat has been neutered. It is painless for the cat (as it is done while under anaesthetic) and does not blur (like tattoos) or come off or cause accidents (like collars).

Vets cannot tell before sedating and clipping – and sometimes not until actually making an incision – if a female cat has already been spayed, so unfortunately female cats without clipped ears are sometimes picked up and the operation started before it becomes apparent that she has already been spayed. This of course causes unnecessary stress and risk to the cat.

Males with clipped ears can also avoid being picked up a second time, although there are also obviously external signs that a male cat has already been neutered.

The clipped ear has been adopted by European animal welfare groups as the simplest, most humane and most efficient way to identify neutered stray cats. For reasons to neuter please visit our “Why Neuter?” page.

People who have cats at home may not like the clipped ears but Nine Lives’ programme is for stray cats only and not homed cats. Cat owners are of course encouraged to neuter their pets but not under neutering programmes for stray cats.

If you neuter a stray cat and then decide to keep it in your house or in your garden, this benefits the cat and we thank you!