Now that so many good people are getting birth control surgery done for street cats on their own, it has become critically important that they ask their vets to notch or tip the ears. This involves making a small cut in the ear, or just cutting off the tip (while still under sedation for surgery), so that the cat can be identified as a neutered one and therefore not be caught and traumatised by a repeat procedure, should someone else start to feed or befriend the cat, or in the event that the caretaker moves away, or even if the cat migrates to a new neighbourhood. You can prevent it being picked up and anesthetised and - in some cases - opened up again, only to find that it was all unnecessary. We have actually been through this a couple of times. Even with males, sure it is easier to find out, but if they are timid or more feral, why subject them to that extra handling, or trapping, in order to find out whether they were neutered? Animal shelters generally do this, but as they are really overburdened, and many people choose to do the surgeries with private vets for their local cats, it is good to carry the protocol across the city now.

So just ask your vet to put a notch in the ear, or to tip the ear. A friend of Cattitude Trust has shared her album with photos of ear notches and ear tipped cats, so that you may choose the method, but please insist on doing this for all cats after birth control surgery, even yours. Identifying them as “Animal Birth Control completed” is the kindest thing you can do for them.

(The author is founder of Cattitude Trust Chennai and photos of the notching are available at www.facebook.com/cattitudetrust)