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Protect Your Cat from Sunburn and Skin Cancer

PetSmart Margaret Dinchak/

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Cats love sitting in the sun and catching some rays. But just like humans, your cat needs protection from the harmful effects of the sun, too. While her fur protects most of her body, the tips of her ears are fair game for sunburns -- and, with prolonged exposure, even skin cancer.


Particularly susceptible to sunburn are sun-seeking felines who are white or light-coated — especially on the tips of their ears. And, according to vet experts, they don’t have to spend time outdoors to risk sunburn. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation can pass through windows, so exposed skin should always be protected during long catnaps on the windowsill.


When it comes to sunburn, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. To keep your feline sun worshipper’s tips in tip-top shape, vets advise limiting your cat's prolonged sun exposure and use sunscreen. Take extra precautions between 10 a.m.and 4 p.m. when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest. The sunscreen should be fragrance free, non-staining, and contain both UVA and UVB blockers. Because many human sunscreens can be toxic if ingested by your cat, it is best to use a pet-specific product.


If you suspect sunburn, also known as solar dermatitis, talk to your veterinarian about treatment. During the warmer months, frequently check your cat’s ears and look for signs of any persistent inflammation, reddening, flaking or mild hair loss. These symptoms will progressively worsen with continued sun exposure and can develop into squamous cell carcinoma, or skin cancer.







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