Summer is here, which means the days are long and the sun is shining. For our cats, it means there are even more places to take a warm nap in the sunshine. We certainly want our kitties to be nice and comfortable, but it is also important to recognize that there are dangers when it comes to sun exposure. The story of Tiara, a 13-year-old cat who came to a shelter with severely sun-damaged ears, serves as an example of these dangers.
When Tiara came to Cats Protection–a charity group that shelters, cares for, and finds homes for cats in need–her ears were so badly damaged by the sun that they needed to be removed. Cats Protection is hoping that Tiara’s story can be a cautionary tale that will encourage cat lovers to take precautions when their own kitties are exposed to sunlight.
Cats with white or light-colored fur, like Tiara, are especially at-risk. Sun damage can lead to conditions like sunburns and squamous cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer. The ears, nose, and areas where there is little fur coverage, like the groin, are more susceptible to damage. Cats that suffer from hair loss are more exposed, too. It’s also important to note that there are other dangers in summer, such as heat stroke and dehydration, that you should be aware of when protecting your cat.
Here are a few tips for keeping your cat safe in summer:
- Limit sunlight exposure. Keep your cat indoors during peak sunlight hours, usually from around 10am to 2pm. If your cat likes to lie in the sunlight at home, you may want to prevent them from doing so for too long. Draw the blinds or close the curtains during peak hours.
- Use cat sunscreen. There are sunscreens specifically for pets, and you should consult your vet on which ones are appropriate. Do NOT use human sunscreen on cats without talking to your vet. Apply especially to areas with low fur coverage and make sure your cat does not lick the sunscreen off.
- Provide fresh water to your cat at all times to keep them hydrated.
- If you see any sores, ulcers, or skin damage, get to your veterinarian right away. Skin that has been damaged by the sun is likely to get worse without treatment, and any areas that have been damaged by the sun before are likely to be damaged again. Follow your vet’s instructions for protecting your cat.
What other tips would you recommend for keeping cats safe in the sun? How are you protecting your cat from the dangers of summer? Let us know in the comments below!