Cats should be kept indoors between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on hot, sunny days to prevent skin cancer, while owners of light-colored pets should consider keeping their pets indoors even in cooler weather, experts advised.
Charity Cats Protection said global warming meant they were seeing more and more animals with sunburned earmolds that needed to be removed after becoming cancerous.
Following forecasts of a hot summer, the charity has urged owners to keep house cats indoors when the sun is hottest, usually between late morning and mid-afternoon , and talking to a vet about feline sunscreen.
Although they said it was not so necessary on milder, cloudier days, they advised owners of lighter colored cats to consider maintaining the practice throughout the year as the animals do not don’t have protective pigment in their skin, which makes them more susceptible to sun damage.
Risk of skin cancer
Sarah Elliott, Central Cat Welfare Veterinarian, said: “White and light-colored cats do not have a pigment called melanin in their skin, which protects humans from the sun.
“This can make them vulnerable to sun damage – usually around the ears. Over time, damage from the sun’s ultraviolet rays can increase the risk of developing skin lesions and cancer.
“Cats with unpigmented noses or ears are also much more susceptible to sun damage and require additional sun protection.”
The charity has highlighted the case of four-year-old Gorgonzola, who suffered such severe sunburn that he had to have the outer skin of his ears removed.
“prone to sunburn”
New owner Helen Gibbons, 33, of York, said: ‘It’s mostly white so it’s more susceptible to sun damage.
“Just like us humans, cats are prone to sunburn which can cause lasting and irreversible damage.
“We should do everything we can to protect them from sun exposure by using sunscreen, limiting their time outdoors during the hours of the day when the sun is strongest and lowering the blinds to limit their exposure indoors as well.”
A 12-year-old cat called Dibbs from Derby, who was rescued by Cats Protection in York, was so sunburned that the outer part of his ears had to be removed to prevent the cancer from spreading.
Jordan Holmes, 22, from Derby, who adopted Dibbs, said: “His little earless face broke my heart.”
Skin cancer in cats can take many different forms, including lesions, ulcers, scabs, warty bumps, and bumps on the skin. They can be black, brown, gray, pink or red in color.
As well as keeping pets indoors during the sunniest part of the day, the charity has urged owners to provide plenty of shaded areas. Large cardboard boxes can be placed outside, plant pots can create shade by being close together, and a water source should always be available.
The warning comes ahead of Sun Awareness next week.