Showing posts with label ear-tipping. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ear-tipping. Show all posts

Tuesday 7 September 2021

Iceland has its own discussion about indoor/outdoor cats and feral cats

You might have thought that with the relatively cold temperatures in Iceland that feral cats would not be an issue on that island country but they are. They do exist in that country and I know because the country's Parliamentary ombudsman received a complaint about The Housing Complaints Committee's decision not to restrict free movement of cats in the "summer residence area". I don't know what that means but there appears to have been a parliamentary discussion about restricting domestic cat movement, which I take to mean keeping cats indoors. The ombudsman rejected the complaint which means that domestic cats can wander. The conventional method of cat ownership. There is continual pressure on legislatures to review this status. Uniquely cats are allowed to wander freely - c.f. domestic cats.

ASSOCIATED PAGE: Icelandic government proposes changes to the law regarding feral cats. The information on that page may differ because of sketchy reporting.

Icelandic cat. Photo by Natalia Chrzanowska.
Icelandic cat. Photo by Natalia Chrzanowska.

Also, there has been a discussion about the feral cats of that country. One of the points made was that if a TNR volunteer takes care of cats, they are deemed to be owners of those cats. This is a point which has come up before. It is a barrier to the work of TNR volunteers which is so vital in stabilising feral cat populations. That concept has been rejected as I understand it.

They also discussed what is called 'ear-tipping'. This is surgically removing the tip of the left ear of a feral cat to indicate that they have been through the TNR program which includes trapping, vaccination, sterilisation and return to the location from where they came. There appears to be a discussion about whether NGOs were allowed to do it which seems very strange to me but it has been approved. Although sometimes it is done badly and it has been considered to be cruel.

A report on an Icelandic website tells us that, regrettably, feral cats have been exterminated in certain parts of the country. In fact, it states that they have been killed in many municipalities. The reporting is sketchy because it is a translation by Google of Icelandic but it is clear that Iceland has the same polarisation of viewpoints regarding how to deal with feral cats. There are those who want to kill them which doesn't work by the way and there are those who want to deal with them in a more humane way which means TNR, which in turn means ear tipping as mentioned.

It appears to me that in Iceland there are many volunteers as there are in other countries who wish to support feral cats in TNR programs and at this juncture it seems that their argument is winning over the extermination argument. That should always be the case because even though TNR is a slow process, and humankind does not like slow processes, it is the most humane and currently the only known and successful way of dealing with feral cats.

Perhaps one day humankind will be able to genetically engineer feral cats so that they are sterile. That would be I think the best solution. However, the better solution would be for domestic cat caregiving to be of a much higher standard such that domestic cats are never allowed to wander and stray and become feral and procreate. This is the root cause of the feral cat problem in any country. It is a failure in domestication of the cat which causes feral cats to exist.

Sunday 18 April 2021

Good and bad ear-tipping

Over the years of writing about cats, bad ear-tipping returns like a bad penny. It seems to pop up from time to time. It can only be due to negligence or a careless approach. And I will suggest that this carelessness comes about because ear-tipping is normally carried out on feral cats. Feral cats have a lower value in the eyes of humankind than domestic cats. This lower value engenders negligence.

There are two images on this page. One shows what I would regard as a good job on ear-tipping and some errors. The other shows an horrific job on ear-tipping. Ironically, the very poor surgery was carried out on a domestic cat by a vet tech under the supervision of a veterinarian at an animal rescue centre in Cabot, USA.

Good and bad ear tipping. Pics in public domain.
Horrific ear-tipping. Pic: Danyelle Freeman.

The veterinarian excused the error by saying that the vet tech thought the cat was feral. And he also said that they were very busy in providing a discount service. But there is no difference to the surgical process whether you are carrying it out on a feral or domestic cat. Indeed, there is no need to do the surgery on a domestic cat. The case concerned a domestic cat.

If a vet tech does this to a domestic cat you must call into question their attitude more than their ability. The surgery is absolutely minimal. Anybody can do it. It does not require skill. It requires the right attitude. And it seems to me that this vet tech has a poor attitude towards the welfare of animals. I would question whether they should be a vet tech.

Although, to be fair, they were carrying out a discount service and therefore must be praised for that aspect of their work. The veterinarian concerned apologised as did the mayor of the town. The veterinarian described it as an accident. I would describe it as negligence.

When ear-tipping goes wrong this is what happens: too much is taken off the ear. And sometimes the right ear is tipped rather than the left. It should be the left. There are alternatives to the surgery: tattooing the inside of the ear flap is one way.

There are advantages to ear-tipping. People know that the cat has been sterilised. This helps to protect them in urban environments where a lot of people don't like feral cats. Also a lot of people don't like domestic cats wandering around. Sometimes vigilante-types like to trap someone's pet and take them to the pound or an animal shelter. This is a crime but if the cat is ear-tipped they at least know that he or she is neutered.

This may help to protect them and it gives the impression that the cat's presence is authorised by the local authority. This is because sometimes local authorities become involved in TNR programs which includes ear-tipping.

The bottom line reason for poor ear-tipping is a poor attitude towards the value of cats particularly feral cats. It indicates a lack of respect for feral cats which is not a good look for a veterinary clinic. Veterinarians should respect all animals as it underpins all the work that they do.

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