White cats are majestic and elegant, so noble that they are as sensitive to sunlight as queens and ladies-in-waiting once were! Cats with white ears, eyelids, lips and nose must be careful when exposed to the sun. In fact, the fur in these areas does not offer sufficient protection to the non-pigmented skin and the sun’s rays could seriously damage it.
Why is the sun dangerous for white cats?
In the summer, we are not the only ones to get unpleasant burns after being in the sun without protection. You might ask why and who else might be so unlucky? White-haired cats can also be victims of the damaging effects caused by the sun!
Cats with white coats have hair that tends to provide less protection to the area beneath it and the skin itself is also thinner, more delicate and sensitive to the effects of the sun’s rays, which, in the long run, cause alterations to the epithelial layer. What occurs is a form of actinic dermatitis or photosensitivity dermatitis, which can turn into something more serious like a tumour.
Sometimes years go by before the skin tumour appears, ruining the tissues, so it is better to act immediately, before getting to the point of your kitty having to have an operation and be forced to intervene with amputations. They are not difficult operations, but it is always best to avoid getting to this point!
Symptoms to keep under control
If your house cat has a deep pink skin, with hair loss and increasingly thick scabs appear, gradually consuming his ear and has ulcers in the areas most at risk (ears, eyelids, lips and nose) it is essential not to underestimate the problem by resorting to do-it-yourself remedies, but contact your vet as soon as possible so that he can assess the degree of seriousness of the situation.
If, despite this, your cat continues to expose himself to the sun’s rays, the dermatitis could turn into squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer. The probability of it spreading to other organs is small but it is nevertheless a good idea to begin treatment to eliminate the carcinoma and if necessary proceed with the amputation of the diseased area (this usually happens with the ears and the nose, but don’t worry – your cat’s life will not be at all impaired).
How to protect a white cat from the sun
Prevention is always the most effective tool to use in order to avoid unpleasant consequences. The ideal thing is to keep cats indoors during the hours when solar radiation is most intense, from 11 am to 5 pm, or shelter them from the direct sunlight, keeping them in shady places. Another very useful precaution is to apply a specific sunscreen for animals, with a high protection factor. You can get it from the chemist or from your vet.
Never panic, but always try to protect your furry friend’s health!