Sunbathing Hazards

by Dianda on 26 April 2012

in the Health section of The Anipal Times

Sitting here in front of a window, Suki doesn't have white ears. But I'm always making sure she doesn't sit in the sun for too long.

Summer is getting closer and closer, and the sun is getting stronger. It’s important to keep an eye out for your cats as they love to lay in the sun all day long. When they stay in the sun for too long they can develop problems — just like we humans. I’ll explain why.

White cats, and cats with almost to no fur, are sensitive to the sun. And if they stay in the sun too long they might get sunburnt, skin cancer and other skin conditions. The ears and nose don’t have a lot of hair covering the skin, and the skin there is very thin.  That’s why cats — especially white cats — have a greater chance of getting skin cancer on their ears and/or nose if they lay in the sun for too long. It’s also the reason why white cats, and cats with pale ears and/or noses, need extra protection during the days when the sun is very strong. (Other places that might need extra protection from the sun are pale or pink eyes and feet).

If you see a wound on your cat and you don’t know what it is from, never hesitate to ask your vet to take a look at it. Because when caught on time, skin cancer can often be removed without trouble.


It is a good idea to provide shade for your cat during the hottest time of the day to prevent heatstroke. When your cat doesn’t want to stay in the shade, you can try to keep her in the house for a few hours during the hottest time of the day (between 11 am and 3 pm). If you are unable to keep an eye on your cat, make sure she has access to a shaded area when you are away from home.

It is also good to know that sunbathing inside, behind glass, reduces sunburns. Unfortunately, the rays that increase the risk of skin cancer are still able to penetrate glass. So even when your cat is sunbathing inside, you need to provide shade and make sure she doesn’t stay in the sun for too long.


When Hiro goes outside when the sun is strong I put sunblock (advised by my vet) on his nose and ears to protect the skin against the sun.

Sunblock is no longer for humans only. It’s a good idea to apply sunblock on areas that are sun-sensitive, such as the ears, nose and places that don’t have much hair.

But sunblock isn’t entirely safe for your cat. Cats might lick off the lotion, spray, cream or whatever form the sunblock is in, which can be toxic for your little friend. So it’s a good idea to consult your vet about what kind of human sunblock you can use.


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