Friday 15 February 2008

Damaged cat ears

Photograph feral cat copyright peachknee

There are some great photographs of damaged cat ears. I am fascinated with damaged cat ears - just joking, but there is a story behind this sort of fighting damage.

Feral cats and stray cats get into fights and their ears flaps are obviously an exposed piece of anatomy that is likely to suffer damage. This is why a defensive cat displays ears that are flat to the head (unless you are a Scottish Fold, whose ears are permanently flat due to a genetic defect).

Flattening them to the head makes them almost invisible. The cat in the picture above was badly injured when found by the photographer, who tried to feed the cat but on her/his return with food, the cat had gone. The cat looks almost serene and untroubled despite his injury (to his neck and cheek). He (he looks like a boy cat) must have gotten used to it all.

It is such a hard, brutal and short life for a feral cat. This boy was someone's companion once. His life span on the street is short (2-3 years). There is a growing movement towards controlling the cat population in the USA, but not by mass slaughter as is the case at present.

Photography is able to find aesthetic beauty in tragic situations. Even ugliness and pain can look beautiful in a fine photograph. Here's another cat with a damaged left ear:

Photo copyright tanakawho

Sometimes the damage done to the ear (once again the left ear) is deliberate and done by mankind to signify that the cat has been neutered (snipping the left eat flap). Here's an example of a New York feral cat being feed and who has been neutered:

Photo copyright by Michael Dietsch

Trap neuter and return is the best way to control cat population and it takes place by caring people but many many more are slaughtered.


  1. Thank you for advocating TNR

    The ears pictured are likely NOT damaged in fights but rather the result of ear mite infestation...which can lead to hematoma and subsequent disfigurement of the ear. Fighting could have made the problem worse but is unlikely to be the underlying problem...

  2. Bit of a necropost, but in case anyone else reads this... While Olya is correct that ear mites are more commonly the cause of feline ear damage than fights, the ear of the cat pictured above likely WAS damaged in a fight. When other evidence... the wounds on its chest and cheek... are taken into account, the probability that the ear sustained fight damage eclipses the likelihood of an ear mite infestation being responsible.

    It's a common mistake made by naturalists of all kinds, from vets to researchers... once a likely cause is illustrated, ALL cases are assumed to be due to that cause, in an out-of-control version of Occam's Razor. But this should only be assumed in cases where there is no evidence of other issues, and many, many times, the cause does not happen to be the most likely.


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