It is not just in tropical areas that cats are vulnerable to sunburn. Even in the cooler parts of Europe such as Britain, the summer sun can be strong enough to scorch your cat’s skin. But cats don’t appreciate the risks of lying out in the sun, even having been sunburnt before, so you’ll need to discourage your pet from remaining outdoors for long when the sun is at its hottest. This will protect your cat not just from sunburn, but from the risk of skin cancer as well.
Cats will often remain sleeping in the sun, completely unaware of the risk of sunburn. You need to protect your cat from sunburn by keeping him indoors during the hottest time of the day.
Surnburnt ears are a particular hazard for white cats. In some cases, skin cancer develops and the ear tips have to be amputated.
The coloration of your cat will affect the likelihood of it suffering from sunburn. Although cats with white coats will not absorb the heat as much as those with black fur, they are at greatest risk. This is because they lack any trace of the protective black pigment called melanin in their skin. If you part the fur of such individuals, it will appear pink for this reason.
Exposed parts of the cat’s body, especially the tips of the ears, are most vulnerable to sunburn. Bicolours or even tortoiseshell and white cats with white areas on this area of the body are just as much at risk of becoming sunburnt here as a pure white individual.
HEALTH RISKS TO CATS FROM THE SUN
The intense heat will result in the tips of the ears becoming inflamed and reddened, although this may not cause the cat much discomfort. The danger is, of course, that repeatedly becoming sunburnt in this area will lead on to skin cancer, which will be much more serious. The aim must be to keep vulnerable cats indoors when the risk of sunburn is at its peak, from just before midday until three o’clock or so in the afternoon.
Some cats love sleeping out in the sun, often lying on a low- roof in the open rather than choosing a shaded locality under trees for example, where the risk of sunburn would be greatly reduced. If your cat persists in seeking the sun, then take precautions when the sun is likely to be at its hottest, by rubbing a non-toxic sunblock on its ear tips beforehand.
- You can soothe your cat’s sunburn by bathing it with a witch hazel solution and then using aloe vera as a moisturiser. But always consult your vet if your cat is seriously sunburnt or has been burnt several times in the past.
- Cats do not have to venture outside in order to get sunburnt. They can suffer from this condition by resting on a windowsill in front of an open window. If your cat persists in behaving in this way, move it to a cooler area in your home.
- For instant soothing sunburn relief, rub ice cubes gently over the cat’s ears, and then break off a piece of leaf from an aloe plant, and squeeze the sap over the affected area.
- Members of the Sphynx breed, which are essentially hairless, are very vulnerable to sunburn, as they lack the protective covering of hair normally present in cats.
Can I use my suncream on my cat?
The ingredients in human preparations can be harmful if swallowed by a cat when grooming. Try to obtain a special pet sunblock, but if you have to resort to your own, choose a suitably high factor (SPF 15) and rub it in very thoroughly.
What can I do if my cat has had sunburn?
Don’t let your pet aggravate the condition, which will increase the chances of skin cancer developing. Keep your cat indoors in sunny weather, until the inflammation has gone.
What can be done for treating cat skin cancer?
Treatment may involve cryosurgery, which relies on liquid nitrogen to kill off the malignant cells or direct surgery, which may affect the appearance of the cat, as the tips of the ears are amputated.