Tattoos and Piercings…on your pet?!

I thought I’d take a slight turn from our usual animal cruelty discussion and bring up a topic that is not only ridiculous but also a growing trend.

Tattooing and Piercing Your Pets.

That’s right. That’s an actual thing.

Now, if anyone knows me, they know I’m all about tattoos and piercings. I’m covered in tattoos and my ears are gauged and pierced multiple times. One of my best friends is a tattoo artist, and my other best friend is covered in facial and other piercings. So, when it comes to this stuff, I typically don’t judge anyone.

But on an animal?

If you want to express yourself, do it on YOURSELF, not your pets.

There is a huge controversy on whether or not it should be acceptable, let alone legal in the United States. But the US is not the only country doing this. It is actually a much bigger trend in Russia right now, specifically on hairless animals – the most common – The Spynx breed. They are calling this a “Cattoo” (Which is also ridiculous and extremely stupid.)


Here is what happens when an animal is tattooed:

In most cases the animal is put under with anesthetic. (Thank God).  Applying the design stencil has been seen different ways – either while the animal is still conscious, where one person holds the animal spread on the table, or while the animal is out, where they draw it on or even use a regular stencil (like any regular tattoo). Once the animal is out, they begin tattooing, just as they would a human.

Though that is usually the situation – Not all tattoos have been or are performed after using anesthetic. Some poor animals have to endure that pain for hours.

On a side note: I don’t even understand how that can happen… I would assume they would need multiple people to hold the animal. My dog freaks out after getting a shot, I could only imagine what he would do if someone was trying to tattoo him… Also, I really hope people who perform these tattoos have separate guns for animals and humans…

Anyway, whether under anesthetic or not – anyone who has gotten a tattoo knows, you’re pretty sore afterwards. The pain the animals will feel after they regain consciousness must be extremely uncomfortable for them. Not to mention the healing process must be difficult to monitor. Healing is itchy – I can’t imagine an animal not trying to scratch at it, and essentially ripping open the wound.


Is this legal?

Absolutely. Not one law has been passed in United States (or anywhere else that I could find,) stating you can not tattoo an animal. There have been online petitions formed, but nothing done seriously to try and instate a law against it.

Is there a purpose?

Well, I guess anything can have a purpose to someone, but this certainly does not have a VALID purpose. This is strictly looks. Nothing more.

Is it right?

Usually I let you make your own judgment, but I’m just going to go ahead and say it –


Here is what Wayne Pacelle, the president of the Humane Society of the United States, had to say on it in an article on ABC News:

“Tattooing a cat [or any other animal] for vanity’s sake is a frivolous practice that has a very real risk of causing needless suffering and dangerous side effects.  Animals don’t choose to subject themselves to painful procedures for appearance’s sake, and we consider tattooing an animal for aesthetic reasons to be clearly unnecessary and inhumane.”

Here is what happens when an animal is pierced:

Piercing an animal is a whole different story. Almost never is an animal put under to get pierced. The person performing the act may use a numbing agent before piercing but rarely. Common spots to be pierced are the ears, lip, nape of the neck, and top of the tail.


There was a major controversy in 2008 over a woman who was selling modified kittens on ebay as “Goth kittens.” They had their ears pierced, necks pierced, and tails pierced. She was selling them for $100.00 a kitten, or more.

The thing that bothered me the most about this story – The woman used a 14 gauge piercing needle! That is the same size as a human’s navel piercing. The standard ear piercing would be the equivalent of a 20 gauge – 4 sizes smaller that what this woman used.


Also mind-blowing – This woman was a dog groomer. I think that statement speaks for itself.

She went to trial and was found guilty of animal abuse charges. Here are two of the kittens she modified, that were seized and medically treated. Unfortunately many of the kittens are now deaf.



(For only one of a million stories about this occurrence, visit:

Is this legal?

Well….Kind of. There are no laws specifically stating it is illegal. However, depending on the case and situation, a person can be charged with basic animal cruelty charges.

Is there a purpose?

Same as tattooing – No valid purpose, just looks.

Is it right?

Again – OF COURSE IT’S NOT RIGHT! The difference between human and animals when it comes to this stuff is that humans are able to give consent. They choose to do this. If someone held you down and pierced you without you asking them to, you’d be pretty mad right? You’d probably consider that ABUSE, right?! Yup.

The Argument:

Here is the controversy – People who support it say – It is not any different than ear cropping, tail docking, declawing, feather clipping, devocalization, etc, etc, etc. They are all legal modifications.  And since there is no law specifically against tattooing or piercing an animal, or any of those other issues, they can do as they please. (These other topics will also be discussed throughout the month! Be sure to keep checking back on information about those issues!)

Another argument for piercing is that mother’s have their daughter’s ears pierced as babies without their consent, how is this any different? I guess the difference is that once the daughter is old enough, she has the option to remove the earrings. Also the fact that the human body is completely different than an animal’s body, (for example, our ears are rather different than those of a cat…) unless you have a veterinary background, I’m not sure how anyone can be sure that where they are piercing on the animal, is a safe spot to pierce.


The Bottom Line:

Just because it is not illegal, does not mean it’s the right thing to do.

There are a ton of petitions you can sign to try and end these acts.

Here is just one of many:  Stop Letting Pet Owners Tattoo Their Pets


Something You NEED To Understand

These stories and opinions are on tattooing and piercing animals for aesthetic purposes. Not for identification purposes. There are many organizations and owners who tattoo for identification purposes, who perform these while the animal is under anesthetic, usually at the same time they are receiving their spay or neuter surgery. These tattoos can range from numbers, letters, or colored lines and are usually very small in size. Usually these tattoos are placed on the underbelly of an animal, inner ear, or on birds like chickens or turkeys, on the web of their feet. These are specified as legal and have a VALID purpose. These ID tattoos are for easy tracking when sheltering numerous animals and used in case an animal is lost or stolen.

Our shelter does a small blue line on the lower stomach, performed just after the animal is fixed. That line indicates the animal has been spayed or neutered by us. They also help us keep track of animals who have repeat visits – if a dog comes in with a blue line on it, we know if was here before – something we need to consider before releasing it back to the owners, or putting it up for adoption.

Hypothetical Example: We have a puppy up for adoption. We spay/neuter it and tattoo it. The puppy gets adopted. Down the line we pick up a full grown dog off the streets, which has obviously been mistreated or neglected. We see it has a blue line – we know it was once ours. We know to check out system for previously adopted dogs of the same breed, so now we have the dog’s information including the owner’s information. We scan the microchip to confirm, find the current address, and act accordingly.

It serves as that little extra something to help protect the animals. And though we always suggest ID tags and microchips, this helps aid us in providing the best means of tracking and identifying, if there should ever be an issue.

So, now that you know the facts – however strange and unheard of they may be – what do you think? Is animal tattooing and piercing abusive?


** None of these photographs belong to me or the shelter. They were taken off the internet from various sites.**

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One Response to Tattoos and Piercings…on your pet?!

  1. LeeAnn says:


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