Feral Cat Ear Notching

We know nothing about Frankie’s back story. We adopted him at Petsmart from The Pinellas County Animal Services. The person at Petsmart did not know anything about him so we just didn’t think much about it, although I did send a Facebook message to the animal services with his reference number but, even though they have an active Facebook page, I got no response.

Our cat Frankie

I couldn’t help being perplexed, though, by the ear notch on his right ear. I have heard about ear notching before. It is the method of cutting a notch in a cat’s ear after spaying or Neutering. Sometimes it is called ear tipping when they remove about a centimeter off the tip of the ear.

Ear notched cat

Ear tipped cat

Ear notching or tipping is mostly done to feral cats involved in a Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) program. It identifies that they have been fixed so they are not trapped again and put under the knife a second time. I prefer the notch because it is less disfiguring but a ear-tipped cat is easier to identify from a distance. It is also more likely that a notch could be mistaken for an injury or vice versa.

The notch got me thinking. If he was a feral cat, why is he so friendly? Of course, not all notched cats are feral, some are strays, but if Frankie was caught as a stray with the intention of fixing him for adoption, why would they notch his ear? Perhaps it isn’t a notch. After all, it looks more like a slit than a triangular notch.

Our cat Frankie's ear notch

Frankie’s ear notch

I did a little research and found that ear tipping on the left ear is most common but there is no universal standard. Frankie’s quasi notch is on his right ear. That led me to believe it was more likely the result of a fight and didn’t think about it again until we visited my mother-in-law.

She has two cats. One of them is a gold cat named pumpkin that has the same slit on his right ear. Coincidence? Possibly. It is also possible that in this area, a small sliver of a notch in the right ear is how some vets do it.

Pumpkin the cat


I tried to do a Google search to see what the standard is where I live on the west coast of Tampa Bay, Florida, but I found nothing concrete. I searched Petfinder for cats in my area and found four or five with a tipped ear but none with a notch. So the mystery remains. It doesn’t really matter where Frankie comes from and if I never find out, I won’t care. I just can’t help loving a good mystery.

Do you have a cat that has been notched or tipped? Do you know what is common where you live? I’d like to hear about it.

Photo Friday: Photogenic Frankie

Out of our three cats, Chris, Puck, and Frankie, I am starting to think that Frankie is the most photogenic. That is not to say he is better looking but he does not have the disadvantages that make things more difficult for photographers.

For example, Puck is a good-looking cat but he is all black and it is difficult to pick up fine details, especially when you must underexpose him to keep the background from becoming too overexposed.

Chris’s problem is “eye boogers.” He always seems to have a bit of goo in the corner of his eyes that can be a distraction. On the other hand, he has had that problem his whole life and that may be considered a distinguishing characteristic.

Does anyone else have one pet that seems to be more photogenic? If you’d like, post a link to their picture.


Making the Bed… With Cats

I have learned that if you want to get a cat’s attention, start making the bed. They could all be sleeping in the other room but once you start to pull the sheets up, you’ve got a party.

I didn’t always know that bed making was a favorite activity of many cats. I first noticed it with our cat Tigger many years ago. I would pick him up and put him on the floor and he would jump right back up on the bed. This became the routine every morning. I started singing a song by Chumbawamba while making the bed; “I get knocked down but I get up again. You’re never going to keep me down.” I never knew the rest of the lyrics so I would just repeat those to Tigger while I struggled to finish the bed.

Now that Tigger is gone, Chris and Puck are happy to take over the duties of making my job as difficult as possible and they are very good at it.

Our cats, Chris and Puck, on the bed