Sunday, October 7, 2007

What is an Ear Tip?



This photo is of a Noah's Ark ear tipped cat. The tip of the ear is taken off while under anesthesia to denote that the cat has been sterilized at a glance. This means the cat is part of a managed colony.

72 comments:

Anonymous said...

How does this effect the cat medically? What are the side effects? it seems a little inhumane to chop off part of your cat's ear.

CHAMP said...

Dear Anonymous,

Good question...

Here is a link about eartipping from Dr. Julie Levy who is THE expert on feral cats: http://www.sniksnak.com/cathealth/eartipping.html

I have to say that eartipping could possibly save the cat from being spayed or neutered again, or even worse, if it is brought into a shelter and not eartipped, it would probably be euthanized.

It is the only reliable way to tell if a cat is spayed or neutered in a colony and is approved by all the major humane groups.

kitty_luver said...

would'nt it just make more sense to put a chip in the cat that has all the medical information instead of cruelness by cutting the cats ear..thats just wrong.

Anonymous said...

I think this sounds like a good idea. It doesn't sound like it affects the cat any and microchipping is expensive and impractical. It's impractical to catch all the cats over and over again to scan them to see if they have been "fixed".

Raena Jackson Armitage said...

Here in Australia we tattoo the cats with a symbol:

Ø

Much more humane I think.

Anonymous said...

Do you know anyone who suffers ghost pains from having a piece of their lobe missing? I don't. There's a reason ears are pierced, stretched and marked. How is ear tipping that different from getting a pierced ear? Would I rather work to stave overpopulation than fret about a chip of the cat's ear. BTW - How is a tattoo less painful than trimming the tip of the cat's ear when it's asleep? Let's weigh our priorities people!!!

Anonymous said...

Did any of you screaming about ear tipping being mean or cruel stop to think how stressful & tramatic it is for a feral cat to endure being captured, transported in a vehicle, handled by people, (possibly anesthetized if really wild)while risking injury, illness or death from the stress, just for someone to check for a tatoo or chip?
I'm sorry if the thought of ear-tipping makes you uncomfortable, but guess what IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU & IT IS NOT ABOUT YOUR COMFORT!
If the cat is ear tipped, it can be released immediately if caught in a live trap. It also allows folks that particpate in the TNR program to know which cats have already been neutered at a glance so they can focus on those feral cats that still need to be neutered.

zey said...

Anonymous said: "Did any of you screaming about ear tipping being mean or cruel stop to think how stressful & tramatic it is for a feral cat to endure being captured [...] just for someone to check for a tatoo or chip?"

In Australia, the tattoo is pretty large (1/2 an inch diametre generally) in a dark colour on an ear's white background. In any sort of trap or cage, the cat's going to be looking directly at you the whole time. The tat's very easily visible, I assure you.

Christopher Isar said...

Well, at least you are all trying to do what's best for the animals. Seems to me like the ear tip would be equatable to circumcision, but I suppose some people would think that was inhumane. Don't forget your common grounds before you get angry at each other over your differences.

Anonymous said...

It's more inhumane to abandon your cats that keep breeding more and more homeless unwanted cats, that spread disease and starve to death. If people were more responsible in the first place this wouldn't be an issue. Stop whining this is a proactive approach to an aweful situation.

Anonymous said...

Erm, wouldn't that hurt. . . like a lot? And if the cats are house cats but are going to be let out a few times, would eartipping still be as reccomended? Because I don't like the tip of my two cat's ears cutoff when a simple "Hey, this cat is spayed." would do just fine. That is, if we ever give away the cats.
Rawr

Anonymous said...

I have a real problem with ear tipping.I understand the need to indentify but why not tattoo the tip of the ear with a bright ink clearly visible. Serves the same purpose without maiming.Want to say " Well Done" for all who care for those in need. Every little bit does matter. Thanks

Anonymous said...

I don't see how disfiguring the cat is humane. And tattooing is very simple. Rabbit breeders do it all the time without any ill effects to the animal & you can see the tattoo is there very clearly. It is done with a small tool that resemble pliers. Tiny metal plates that have needles in the shape of numbers or letters go on the end of the pliers. Black ink is smeared on the skin & the plate is pressed into the skin of the ear. The ink is wiped off and waalaa, new tattoo. The tattoo can easily be seen at a distance.
Just another option that could be considered.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that some people scream about how inhumane declawing a cat is. "It's like cutting their fingers off at the knuckle", "They'll never be the same"...etc. Yet, they are perfectly fine chopping off an ear or giving a female cat a hysterectomy.

Of course, they would reply that declawing is a selfish thing only selfish people do to protect their belongings, whereas the other procedures are for the cat's own good. Yet, there is no good reason to cut off the ear when they can simply tattoo on the inside. Isn't that more humane than disfiguring?

Anonymous said...

So, are you saying you clip these young cats ear off and then let them go out in the wild, to let anyone that sees them "know" they are a feral/stray cat, but has been SPAYED??!! That's a bunch of crap! I think it is inhumane to disfigure these beautiful cratures. I don't for a minute, think this would prevent them from being euthanized when taken to a shelter. If they aren't spoken for after a period of time, they are euthanized ANYWAY! Don't try to dance around that! I don't care what some of these people are saying about them getting caught, handled, caged, etc. is worse than clipping the tip of their ear, if they are still a feral cat then they will be out in the wild anyway and in danger. If someone doesn't like cats, they aren't even going to know why or care if that cats ear is clipped. I had no idea what this was until I looked into it from seeing it done on two of my friends HOUSE PETS!! That was a very BIG mistake!!

Anonymous said...

i love how people contemplate the humane aspects of this, when the animals are doing what the wild intended. Our interference is not humane, our interference is only four our comfort, ego and conscience. I don't see anyone rushing out to sterilize human beings when we do the same thing... If you are going to capture and sterilize a feral cat, have the balls to admit that your humanity has nothing to do with what you are doing and that the entire process is cruel to the animal

Charlotte Kontz said...

How would yall like it if someone snatchs YOU and cuts off part of your ear just so you're recognized? If part of their ear was meant to be cut off it wouldn't be there in the damn first place!!!

Anonymous said...

I had my cat neutured today and they tipped his ear he is a housecat I am outraged I had no idea what ear tipping was so i left the box blank then when I picked him up he was missing half his ear now everytime I look at him I cry Ive had him since he was a newborn and bottle fed him and now when I look at him I feel like I made a mistake I can never change what happend and feel so guilty. Has this happend to anyone eles?

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that people are arguing over the relative humaneness of tattooing vs. ear tipping. As long as the cat is anaesthetized during the procedures, I don't think there is any difference between the two. Both presumably cause some minor discomfort, but neither impedes the cat's functioning the way losing another part of its body might.

The whole concept of disfigurement is something that only matters to human beings. A cat isn't invested in the way that it looks.

Anonymous said...

Children children children, ear tipping is a slight disfigurment. These cats arent gonna shuffle off to Hollywood for a scene in an epic movie. They are gonna live out their lives in good health doing what ever wild cats do except one thing. They arent gonna breed more wild cats to suffer from diseases and hunger. This isnt australia BTW. I wouldnt get too deep into cat ear tipping if I was you. You might conjur up the subject of the senseless slaughter of kangaroos.

amberlhain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
amberlhain said...

Wow. Considering you can see a cat from a distance and know that you don't have to try to catch it, seems more than worth the supposed discomfort. Tattoos may work elsewhere but it seems like you would still have to catch the cats in order to see the tats. Seems like a waste of resources.

victoria said...

We are dealing with a litter of cats in the garage and learning about what to do. Part of the beauty of the cat is it's symmetrical features. And the ears are so beautiful. Even though there seems to be a good purpose to doing it, it is marring their appearance, and they probably know it. And the other cats will tell him or her that they are missing a piece of ear, and looking injured from a fight, other cats might think they can pick on them. It is enough that they have been taken against their wills and sterilized for controlling the population. Maybe there is another way. And when a cat continues to not get pregnant it should be clear that she was spayed. Can't the surgical scars be seen by shaving the belly? And checking the male's privates can also show he has been fixed. I vote no to ear chopping. Ear tipping is too nice a label for a mutilation that is justified. But I do not know too much about it. My opinion. I am also against cutting dogs ears and tails off. Most of these breeds are not hunting and getting them caught in the bushes. And dogs are smart enough without making them "look smarter" with pointy ears that were not given to them by nature. The poor things can't wag their tails. And people with these dogs just need to buy a box of Q tips and mite solution and maintain those adorable floppy ears. Sometimes an idea with a purpose to the masses goes too far. Like the Chinese government
limiting families to one child. People in positions of power make decisions that may not always be right. Maybe right for some but not right for others. But God Bless anyone who is doing things for the benefit of animals, and trying their best in an overwhelming situation of too many animals and not enough people who want to love and care for them.

Maybe the government or the laws should do something about cat breeding from the level of suppliers. I know a lot of people are working at these levels.
Let those of us who pray, keep praying for good humane solutions to the animal population explosion in the world. And thank you for any and all people who have helped or are helping in any way.
I have rescued and rehabbed small exotic animals who were neglected, injured, ill and dying in pet shops. Guinea pigs, hamsters, etc...

victoria said...

One more thing, a vet should always tell the person about chopping off the ear. And not rely on a form that may not be understood. And this should not come as a traumatic surprise to the person of the cats. It was sad to hear about the person who posted about her house cats that came home without all of their ears. I would have gone crazy. You might consider taking legal action in this particular case, no matter how much good work the vet does. Vets could give people a page clearly stating what they will be doing in addition to the spay or neuter. Or the vet tech should spell it out in words. Or post it in their waiting room. Full disclosure is a very important thing. One time I brought a guinea pig to the vet, and they took him in the back to take blood. When they returned him to me, one finger had been shortened along with taking the nail off. I was mortified. The vet nonchalantly said, after the fact that that was the easiest way to get blood. Then he said the finger and the nail would grow back.I do not remember if it did ever grow back. Still OMG. He needed to inform me of what was going to happen.And get my consent to do it. And I doubt they used anaesthesia. You know that must have hurt him a lot. (Poor boo boo) Unfortunately in this world we all live and learn, suffer, and animals also suffer.
It has been written in a holy book that man would have dominion over animals. That does not mean to hurt them, and it also means to take care of them. The whole thing is a very complex issue. Who is right? Why would a domestic cat need to have its ear chopped? That was very wrong. There are collars and metal tags to identify this fact.
To the same person, I would really consider sueing for permanent damage to your cats' appearances and psychological pain and suffering for all of you, set some precident to keep this from happening to other unsuspecting people's cats and kiss their ears every day, and stop feeling guilty. Let what happened to your cats not be in vain. Maybe it happened so that others could be spared the trauma you have sustained. Mandatory full disclosure regarding ear tipping. And it should be changed to ear chopping or ear clipping.
Much Light to you and your cats. Also why can't a photo be taken of the spayed or neutered feral cat and put on a data base, so that when a cat who has been trapped comes in, they can search to see, if there is a match, coloring, general location and see if it has already had the surgery. It might not be perfect but it could help. So many cats do look similar...

Anonymous said...

I too would much prefer to see the sterilized ferals be switched over to tatoos instead of disfiguring ear tipping.I think for the vets it is the easiest and cheapest way but I personally would rather pay a tiny bit more even for a feral to get a tatoo that to have the top of it's ear clipped off~I mean that is an irreversable disfigurement that might cost the cat not to be adopted should it ever be tamed.Also the writers who had it "accidentally" happen to their pets~just extremely sad for them ~I mean,that is something that can never be rectified for them and some people are sensitive to esthetic issues.Here is really wishing that we can get the tipping issued replaced to a tatoo.

Anonymous said...

The SPCA has a policy for cutting off the ears of cats that are 1) low income spay and neutered 2) Feral cats. Our SPCA gave me no option but to have the ears cut or no spaying. If you object write this person at ASPCA asking them to change their policy and allow people to so no to the cutting of ears of cats. Glow in the dark tatoo ink works great. HEre is who to write to
laural@aspca.org

Anonymous said...

This eartipping is MUTILATION and INHUMANE. This just makes me believe dealing with the ASAP is a BAD THING.

Anonymous said...

All you retards screaming about tattooing must never have heard of a black cat. Idiots. Eartipping saves lives and I have never met a cat who seemed the least bit bothered by it.

Anonymous said...

LOL at Victoria... I think you forgot your meds again!

Keddy said...

Well I'm new to the ear tipping thing and am starting to care for a group of Feral cats and I know for sure how stressed out the cats get when being trapped, so I have to say ear tipping
is a better way. Humans are the ones that have a problem with the ear tipping not cats. Until there is a better way we have to do what's best for the group as a whole.

Arayvek said...

How would you like it if you had half your ear chopped off just so people could tell that you were fixed? That is cruel and inhumane, and can scar cats for life.

Anonymous said...

I just adopted a cat who has an ear tip and I think it makes her unique. She doesn't have the slightest problem with it, and because she is black and long haired I highly doubt a tattoo would be visible. Its really not much different than when they're ears get ripped off in a fight.

Anonymous said...

Judging by the comments made in some of the threads, it appears many complaining about eartipping are uninformed about feral cats and the efforts to better their lives - take the comment from Anonymous posted August 9, 2010 - anyone who would even consider giving away their pets for no good reason has no place commenting. Obviously everyone has good intentions here but it would probably do the armchair critics some good if they spend some time volunteering at their local rescues or humane societies.

To the tattooing camp - I was not aware of this practice before and it does sound like a good alternative to eartipping. Thank you for sharing this, I will share with my rescue group.

Anonymous said...

I have been doing TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) on my neighborhood's colony of cats for some time now... the ear tipping made me cringe at first for reasons other people have mentioned. But the director of a wonderful local group called Project Purr, which is dedicated to helping feral cats, told me something that really made an impact. She said, "We tell people that the eartipping means 'Someone loves me.'" The cats in my neighborhood are beautiful and healthy, they don't fight and -- oddly enough -- they actually seem less afraid of me after the surgery! Maybe they know they're loved.

Anonymous said...

I think you're arguing against the wrong side..would you rather have the feral colonies euthanized instead? Clipping the ear makes it more efficient to spot sterile and vaccinated colonies than anything else. Maybe you should take your energy out on impulsive people who take in the animals without much thought into the actual cost of owning anothrr life.

Anonymous said...

It is because of IRRESPONSIBE human's that we have feral cat colonies in the first place! If people who own cats had them spayed and neutered at the appropriate age...we wouldn't have to be discussing whether to ear-tip a feral cat or not. Ear-tipping is not cruel, it is done under anesthesia while the cat is being steralized. What IS CRUEL is DECLAWING a cat!!! Anyone that has dealt with feral cat colonies knows that feral cats cannot be handled as they ARE NOT SOCIAL. In order to get a feral cat to the vet...it has to be trapped, then once it is there at the vet is has to be anesthetized, then the belly has to be shaved to see if there is a 'spay scar'. That whole process of being trapped, transported, anesthetized,shaved and kept in a trap overnight is very stressful for the cat, just once. Imagine putting a cat through that more than once because you keep trapping the same cat over and over. When a feral cat's ear is TIPPED...you can tell right away that it has been steralized and you don't have to bother to trap that cat again and putting it though unnecessary stress. So all of you people who don't know anything about feral cats, feral colonies, TNR, ear tipping...try educating yourself or get involved with an animal rescue group and you will see that EAR-TIPPING is necessary and does not traumatize the cat in any way!!

The County Seat said...

How can it be "cruel" to ear-tip a cat but it's ok to dock the ears and dogs of tails just because they are a specific breed? It's no different from people getting body parts pierced. The whole point is to make it easy to tell from a distance that a cat is spayed or neutered (and the ultimate goal is eliminating further feral kittens, not the aesthetics of the missing ear - while we're on it, haven't you ever seen a beat-up tom cat with tattered ears?) - whether or not the cat has been caught in a trap. As a topic to argue about, this makes about as much sense as whether or not the earth is flat. Would you rather have every stray cat euthanized?

Anonymous said...

This is far from being HUMANE,and those doing this KNOW it..there are SEVERAL other far mor HUMANE ways to mark an animal as being unable to reproduce,and to CLAIM that this is OK..is just more proof that those claiming to helpo are in fact as mean as the people that let the cat become a stray,if not more so...I have found that not only is this NOT medically needed,it is in fact something to make it easier for HUMANS not for the benefit of the animal,and if a VET is brought an animal and cannot figure out if it is already fixed then he needs to stop being a vet..This is the STUPIDEST and most grotesque thing I can think of someone doing and then CLAIMING its ok...Cut off the top part of your own ear if it is not that big of a deal..Doing this is MEAN,and INHUMANE and you must PLEASE find an alternative..

Anonymous said...

I'm not going to name call but I do have to make a couple of comments:
1) The vets do not "chop off half their ear", they take a slice of of thinnest part at the top while they are under anesthesia.
2) To the person whose friend's house cats got ear-tipped... I live in an urban area and I did not consider TNR until cats showed up to be fed for 3 months in a row. That was unfortunate, what happened to your friend, but all vets agree that indoor cats are the healthiest. Your friend should have kept a closer eye on her cats or they would not have been mistaken for feral.
3) Tattooing seems the same as eartipping humane-wise, but may not be as noticeable and certainly would not work on black cats.
4) Those comparing declawing to eartipping (Pause for restraint)... Not the same league. Declawing takes away a cat's natural defenses and instincts. We adopted a declawed cat once..he got out once and almost died. We got him back but he still tried to "scratch" our furniture until he died at 18 years old.
I have a small "colony" of ferals that I got eartipped after much research - they were brought back 2 days later, happiier than ever, but still too wild to be adopted, and none of them miss that 1/2 cm of the tip of their ear.
I'm sorry, but it is completely ignorant to compare declawing and eartipping. Eartipping involves so little blood cats can be released back out to the wild within 24 hours. Declawing, your cat comes home to an inside home with bandaged paws.

Anonymous said...

Educate yourself people. http://www.animalalliancenyc.org/nycfci/Eartipping.pdf

Anonymous said...

I work in an animal shelter which is more than most of you knee-jerk hysterical people can say. I can also say TATTOOS FADE, DON'T SHOW EASILY ON BLACK CATS and often you can't even tell the cat has one til you've got your fingers in its ear. Try that with a feral. EARTIPPING IS THE MOST HUMANE WAY to avoid unnecessary trauma and euthanasia.

Anonymous said...

Most feral cats have someone that cares for them, and I really think TNR groups should consult the person who feeds them before taking them away, ear tipping and releasing them.I have been feeding a feral for years, he was almost ready to be touched, I have worked on that for so much time, when I did I was going to neuter him and find him a home... last night he showed up after 2 days, completely freaked out and with the tip of his ear missing. He is back to being completely feral now and, say what you say, but I feel terrible about his ear. Please, before taking a cat away ask arounf if he has someone that cares for him

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many people who are so opposed to eartipping are feeding and watering forty cats in a colony and trapping them. Then transporting them to a vet and paying for the surgery. Maybe the one trapped has already been spayed so it is returned after another traumatic experience and all that time and effort has been wsted.

Anonymous said...

It is obvious to me that the poster complaining that ear-tipping is inhumane have never 1)worked in a shelter or 2) worked for a vet. I have done both. I can tell you that ear tipping is an important part of the fight to control the population of feral cats. To the person who posted that a vet who cannot locate a spay scar shouldn't practice medicine...some spay incisions literally disappear over time - especially if the surgery was done when the cat was very young. AND I would like to invite you to catch a feral cat, hold it, and carefully examine its belly for a spay scar. Then call me. I will drive you to the ER.

Anonymous said...

My neighbors and I took care of a group of 4 feral cats for several years. My neighbor managed to trap 3 of them herself one by one and took them to the vet to be neutered. They were never tagged. I do agree with some of the other posts, that one can't get close enough to a feral cat to see if he has been neutered and certainly can't get close enough to a female to look for a scar on her abdomen. I don;t think that tagging is inhumane if the cat doesn't feel it, but I think tagging the ear may be confusing. I have seen many stray cats and in the past, had outdoor cats who lost the tips of their ears in fights. While the ear of a cat who has been in a fight woudl be more jagged than that of a cat who has been tagged, many people may not knw the difference, thus causing someone to assume that the cat had been neutered when he had only been in a fight.
Tatooing the inside of the ear seems like a more acceptable alternative which would calm the concerns of those who feel that it is inhumane to take off part of the cat's ear.

Anonymous said...

Hey I have another idea! One of my cats has a forever white patch of fur on the back of her neck due to one of her flea treatments that ran amuck and bleached her fur in that one spot white. It would be so nice if there was a more humane way to mark a cat than to lob off an ear. Surely there are other ways? All cat lovers should agree to protecting their beauty as well as their health?

Joe Garcia said...

1. Ear-tipping is humane. It doesn't hurt cats, nor does it affect their livelihoods whatsoever. It also makes it easier for humans to identify neutered/spayed feral cats, which prevents us humans from having to trap them and accidentally try to neuter/spay them a second time. Trapping, transportation, anesthetization, etc. are all extremely stressful to a cat, and I think many people don't realize how high levels of intense stress can heavily affect the health of a feral cat, especially if it happens multiple times in their already short lifetimes.

2. Tattoos are not easily visible, fade with time, don't show up well on dark cats, and can require a person to trap them first in order to hold their ear/get very close to see. Chips are costly and would deter people from managing feral colonies because of the cost (they also require the cat to be trapped first in order to identify them). Tags can tear the cat's skin by getting caught on bushes and surrounding objects, and wind up falling off as a result.

3. Cats don't care about their ears being tipped. I've managed a colony of 5 cats, and not one of them even noticed that their ear tips were missing. Cats don't have a concept for beauty the way humans seem to project onto them, and even if they did, they don't need to look good to attract mates anymore (since they can no longer reproduce).

4. You can't compare ear-tipping with de-clawing. Ear-tipping has absolutely no effect on the well-being or health of a cat. De-clawing can be a death sentence for a cat that's outdoors --- without claws, a cat can no longer climb trees to escape from dogs/coyotes/raccoons, and can no longer protect itself in a fight.

If someone can think of a simple alternative that's non-hurtful to the cat, permanent, inexpensive and easy for humans to identify, I'm sure everyone would jump on board. For now, ear-tipping is the best solution that satisfies all those requirements, and has a strong positive effect on extending the lives of feral cats. Our thoughts should lean much more to practical measures that prevent unnecessary trapping and stress for cats who are mostly concerned about their day-to-day survival, and less towards 'aesthetics' that have no meaning or value to them.

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Cristalle G said...

Ear tipping is just for feral cats that don't have and never had homes. House cats don't need it since like you said the owner can just say if it is neutered or not.

Cristalle G said...

If you think cutting off a tiny piece of at cat's ear is "disfiguring" the cat then I bet you just despise people with pierced ears. Tattooing the ear would not be much different. Both methods are equally effective I'd say. It's just a matter of choice.

Krystal said...

There is a lot of discussion of ear tipping vs tattooing etc. If we are worried about if these practises are humane or not then we should really be asking ourselves if TNR itself is humane. I looked up a few things that say feral cats live good lives. Why would we want to neuter them if they are fine? Arguments in favor of TNR say feral cats are happy so how does that support trapping and neutoring them? Trapping them just to neutor and release them again sounds like a terrifying experience for the cat.

Debra Moge said...

It just happened to me. I know how you feel. I am angry and heartbroken. I want people to know about this. They could tag them or chip them.

Debra Moge said...

It just happened to me. I know how you feel. I am angry and heartbroken. I want people to know about this. They could tag them or chip them.

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Anonymous said...

This is terrible! Cats have such a majestic look with their pointed ears. To take this away from them is wrong! I agree they should be spayed or neutered, but microchip them if you are concerned about them being picked up and euthanized. It has gotten to be fairly cheap, and is a lot more humane. Stop ear-tipping you are ruining the animal and it's chance of getting adopted!!!

joyce hargrove said...

Its not all about the pain its also the look of the animal, don't you think they are less likely to ever get adopted with their ear like that? And a tattoo could be hidden and put on the animal while still under anestithia.

joyce hargrove said...

The tattoo could be a symbol on the ear just as easily spotted as a tip, also if they are possibly adoptable the ear being tipped may lessen the chance of finding a home

joyce hargrove said...

Yes, I agree this option sounds more humane.

Kim Fisk said...

Have you ever worked with feral cats..try getting close enough to see a small tattoo! Tipping isn't ideal bit it is best for these cats and of someone doesn't want to adopt a cat because of a tiny flaw then they are not really cat lovers. Reality check guys. I wish that they would help feral cats this way in AUS.

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Maggie said...

Why not just put a reflective-coloured COLLAR on it? That seems humane.