I was just speaking with a very upset woman who had sent in a cat to be sterilised today. She said that the cat did not have its ear tipped and when she called the vet, they denied it. They asked her to bring the cat back in and offered to pay for the taxi fare. She was so upset, she started to cry and said she did not want to sterilise anymore. She also said the the carrier was dirty and there was urine on the paper. She asked why the vets were so cruel just because it was a community cat. She asked if it was possible for the vets to go down and tip the cat's ear - but I told her that it was not advisable to do it outside of a sterile situation whereby there was equipment to resuscitate the cat should anything untoward occur.
I told her that I did not know what had happened in this particular case, and I encouraged her to bring the cat back in if possible. I also told her that I thought it would be a good idea to bring it up at the time if she noticed the carrier was dirty. I said that I have had cats in carriers who were all cleaned up but because they're scared/dirty/groggy, they can throw up or soil themselves after the carrier was changed. Of course it could be because someone may have neglected to change the lining, in which case it IS good to bring it up.
I also don't think that vets necessarily give worse treatment because it is a community cat. I do believe that the vast majority of vets here in fact are very helpful with regards to the community cats and treat community cats as far as possible, similar to an owned home cat. Of course there are some differences - for example, they might not suggest to a community cat caregiver that they might want to do an MRI for a community cat not because that cat is less important, but because they know a caregiver has a large colony and thus has financial commitments to many other cats. Community cats may also be in worse health in some cases because they have never been vaccinated for example or they may be more prone to getting into fights/accidents on the street.
I do think that if the vets didn't want to help community cats they would just refuse to help outright. I was quite surprised to find that when I spoke to some caregivers in the US, and what one of the vets said at the conference I attended, was that they just aren't enough vets doing low-cost spay-neuter. When I asked other people why I was told that the reason apparently is that vets can make so much more doing a consultation for an owned cat rather than low-cost spay-neuter. I think that we are very fortunate to have many community minded vets in Singapore - and the number of vets helping us at Spay Day is a good marker of that.
It would also be a shame if the woman stops sterilising because of this.