Prevent Sunburn on Your White Cats

Just like fair-skinned people need to limit their exposure to the sun, or wear an adequate sunscreen for protection, white cats tend to have the same problem. Normally, the body part of a cat doesn’t suffer from overexposure to the sun. A cat’s fur helps to protect their skin from sunburn. Rather, it’s a white cat’s ears and nose that tend to sunburn. These areas aren’t protected by much fur. White cats, or even cats who have dark fur otherwise, but have white white ears and faces, are especially susceptible to sunburn. There are steps you can take, as a responsible pet owner, to prevent sunburn on your white cats.

Sunburn is also known as “Solar Dermatitis” when it pertains to a cat. You may think that an episode of sunburn won’t hurt your white cat. But just like on humans, sunburn is a red and painful burn. It can cause a great amount of discomfort. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Excessive sun exposure can also make any existing skin problems your white cat may have- dry skin, for example- worse.

Overexposure to the sun can lead to a serious medical condition called, “Squamous Cell Carcinoma.” This type of cancer, which usually affects the ears and the nose of a white cat, can be fatal. If you don’t prevent sunburn on your white cats, your veterinarians can offer two treatments: either surgery to remove the cancerous cells, or chemotherapy. However, prevention is better than the treatments, especially when it comes to dealing with “Squamous Cell Carcinoma.”

To prevent sunburn, or “Solar Dermititis” on your white cats, here are a couple important steps you can take:

1. Restrict Exposure to the Sun
Cat’s are very intelligent creatures. They can tell when they are too hot, and they know to move to a cool, shady area out of the scorching sun. What your cat can’t tell, however, is when they have had too much exposure to the sun. This is where you as the responsible pet owner comes into play. To prevent sunburn on your white cats, limit their times in the outdoors on sunny days. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays are the strongest between ten o’clock in the morning and four o’clock in the afternoon.

2. Sunscreen For White Cats
A sunscreen product that’s applied to the ears and the nose of white cats can immensely help prevent sunburn. However, to prevent sunburn on your white cats, don’t ever use sunscreen that’s designed for humans. Instead, check with your veterinarian. He or she can recommend a sunscreen that’s made for your cat. The biggest difference between the two products is that the feline sunscreen won’t hurt your cat if he or she swallows any from licking.
The types of sunburn your white can get are divided into three levels of severity:

1. Similar to a First Degree Burn in a Human
The top layer of a white cat’s skin is burned by overexposure to the sun. The skin is pink or red in appearance.

2. Similar to a Second Degree Burn in a Human
The burn is deeper in that it not only affects the top layer of skin, but also a layer or skin more.
The sunburned skin is red in color and there may be blisters.

3. Similar to a Third Degree Burn in a Human
The sunburn affects all the layers of a white cat’s skin. The skin on the ears and nose may look white. It may even look dried and crusty.

If you’re not sure whether your white cat has sunburn or not, contact your veterinarian.

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