Why your cat should maybe wear sunscreen
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Why your cat should maybe wear sunscreen

Patrick Vogt
21.7.2023
Translation: Megan Cornish

Cats are real sun worshippers. However, even they aren’t immune to the potential effects of excessive sunbathing. You should be careful not to let them burn, especially if your feline friend is furless or has light colouring.

In Greek mythology, Icarus flew too close to the sun, burned his wings and fell to his death. Cats seem to reach for the sun too, although touching it might be a bit of an exaggeration. They much prefer to bask in the rays and let them warm their fur. Normally this is completely harmless, especially since they know what’s good for them. But if your cat has very light fur or none at all, you should keep an eye on them.

White cats are particularly prone to sunburn.
White cats are particularly prone to sunburn.
Source: Shutterstock/Photocrat

When natural sun protection fails

Most cats have a natural sunscreen, otherwise known as fur. However, this protection has its limits, especially when it comes to light or white fur. The lighter the coat, the lower the melanin production. Melanin is the pigment that protects a cat’s skin and coat from the sun’s harmful UV rays. In other words, your white cat is much more likely to burn than my black one.

Furless breeds, such as the Sphynx, are also susceptible. Freshly shaved long-haired cats or those with very short or thin fur should also not overdo the sunbathing.

A hairless cat’s beauty is a matter of opinion, but its exposure to the sun isn’t.
A hairless cat’s beauty is a matter of opinion, but its exposure to the sun isn’t.
Source: Shutterstock/SoNelly

Don’t take sunburn lightly

A cat is most likely to get sunburn on its ears and nose. In other words, on the parts of the body that are least covered by fur and are most exposed to the sun’s rays.

In milder cases, the skin reddens, while more severe burns cause blisters. Regardless of the extent, sunburn can lead to inflammation. The pain and especially the itching will mean your cat will scratch more and more. This means that pathogens are much more likely to get into the skin, which can cause bacterial infections or ulcers. At worst, sunburn can lead to skin cancer in cats, just like it does in us.

Cats’ ears are particularly sensitive, including to the sun.
Cats’ ears are particularly sensitive, including to the sun.
Source: Shutterstock/Capooliko

What to do when the heat’s on

So, your cat’s caught too much sun. Firstly, get them to cool off in the shade if they haven’t already done so.

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Next, look at the exposed parts of their body. If your cat has slight sunburn, applying some ointment may help. It’s best to stick to a product made specifically for cats.

Bogacare Derma-Repair (Cat, 40 ml)
Quantity discount
13.20 per piece for 2 units 330.–/1l

Bogacare Derma-Repair

Cat, 40 ml

Bogacare Derma-Repair (Cat, 40 ml)
Animal care + Supplies
Quantity discount
13.20 per piece for 2 units 330.–/1l

Bogacare Derma-Repair

Cat, 40 ml

For your cat’s sake, don’t treat severe burns on your own. Don’t let the internet talk you into outrageous home remedies; put your kitty in a transport box and take them to the vet. The professionals know best and have access to special ointments and medicines.

Applying sunscreen to your cat: prevention is better than aftercare

Cats are undoubtedly smarter than me someone who doesn’t put on sunscreen on the first day of their holiday at the beach in Portugal and is nicknamed «Camarão gigante» (giant shrimp) by the locals as a result. Your cat will instinctively retreat before the sun does them harm. If your cat has light-coloured fur or none at all, you can apply sunscreen for extra protection. It sounds weird, but it’s true.

Even she can’t get over the amazement.
Even she can’t get over the amazement.
Source: Giphy

In fact, you can find sunscreens made specifically for cats at pet shops. If that’s too much work for you or if you think it’s OTT, you can use a sunscreen designed for people, but not just any sunscreen. Make sure that it doesn’t contain any oils, fragrances, colourings or preservatives. It should also have a high sun protection factor (at least 30) and be waterproof.

La Roche Posay Anthelios (Suntan cream, SPF 50, 50 ml, 80 g)
Sunscreen
28.50 570.–/1l

La Roche Posay Anthelios

Suntan cream, SPF 50, 50 ml, 80 g

Heliocare 360° Oil-Free (Sun gel, SPF 50, 50 ml)
Sunscreen
22.69 453.80/1l

Heliocare 360° Oil-Free

Sun gel, SPF 50, 50 ml

If the sunscreen of your choice meets all these criteria, the question remains whether your cat will let you apply it at all. A friend’s white cat hisses and extends its claws as soon as it sees the sunscreen tube.

So, have fun good luck with taming your predator.

Header image: Shutterstock/Adriana Sulugiuc

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I'm a full-blooded dad and husband, part-time nerd and chicken farmer, cat tamer and animal lover. I would like to know everything and yet I know nothing. I know even less, but I learn something new every day. What I am good at is dealing with words, spoken and written. And I get to prove that here. 


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