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Can You Adopt an Ear-Tipped (TNR) Cat? All You Need to Know!

If you are familiar with Trap, Neuter, and Return (TNR) and Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate, and Return (TNVR) programs, you may be wondering if you can adopt one of these ear-tipped cats.1,2 The answer is yes, you can adopt them! A tipped ear is just a universal indicator that the cat has been neutered in one of the TNR programs.

While most of the cats in the program are feral, some may have been abandoned and are people-friendly, so they are available for adoption. Read on to learn more!

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Ear-Tipping: What Is It?

an ear tipped cat outdoors
Image Credit: Ausra Barysiene, Shutterstock

Most people living in neighborhoods with a community of feral cats may have seen cats with square-tipped ears. Surgical removal of a portion of the cat’s ear is done while the cat is sedated to be spayed or neutered. The ear tipping is done to identify fixed cats and assure residents that they do not need to be concerned about more new kittens.

The TNR and TNVR programs were designed to help control the cat communities by neutering and spraying trapped cats and then returning them to their communities or neighborhoods that they came from. The programs help to reduce the outdoor cat population humanely, and tipping their ears is a mandatory part of the program.

Ear-tipping is a safe procedure that is not painful for the cat, and it heals quickly.

About Community Cats

A community cat is a cat that resembles your typical house cat, but it lives outdoors and does not have an owner. They can be friendly and interact with humans, weary of people, or fearful and run away if you approach them.

These community cats (sometimes called alley or barn cats) live in heavily populated or rural areas. They can be alone, in pairs, or in groups and are usually fed by and dependent on people in the community.

Since the outdoor cats can trespass in yards where they are not wanted, some home dwellers find them a nuisance. Some people do not appreciate behaviors like digging, pooping, peeing in their gardens, and disturbing the resident cat. Others find feral cats to be a threat to wildlife, so the TNR programs help to eliminate some of the complaints and concerns.

Why Tip the Cat’s Ears?

Ear tipped cat
Image Credit: Bethany Chan, Shutterstock

Feral and stray cats can get easily frightened and run away from humans. Typically, community cats are not someone’s pet, and they have spent most or all their lives outdoors. While some may be comfortable with humans, the willingness to socialize depends on the individual cat.

There are animal lovers everywhere that help care for and protect community cats. They help to trap, neuter, and release these cats, and ear tipping helps to identify them, so they are not re-trapped and experiencing unnecessary stress and discomfort.

The ear tipping is also helpful in identifying new cats in the community. The program also helps animal control officers differentiate between cats that have been treated medically and the ones that are still intact.

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There are many benefits to the trap, neuter, and release programs. It provides control of the cat population, reduces complaints and mating behaviors, and provides cats with some well-being. And yes, cats that have their ears tipped as part of these programs can be adopted. However, it will depend on whether the situation is suitable for the individual cat.

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Featured Image Credit: Krishna777, Shutterstock