Can a Cat Get Sunburn?

One might think that cats are well protected from the sun by their fur. But cats can also get sunburn. In this article, you will learn which velvet paws are at particular risk, how to recognize sunburn, and what to do about it.

Often Affected by Sunburn: Ears, Nose, and Stomach

Sunburn is damage to the skin tissue caused by UV radiation in sunlight. If you stay too long in the sun unprotected, you get sunburn. This not only applies to us humans, but also to our cats.

The parts of the body that are particularly exposed to solar radiation are particularly at risk: In cats, these are primarily the ears and the bridge of the nose. The fur there is also thinner and blocks less radiation.

Some house tigers enjoy lying on their backs and letting the sunshine on their stomachs. But because the peritoneum is not as dense as the back fur, sunburn can also occur on the stomach.

Which Cats are Particularly at Risk?

Some cats get sunburn particularly easily. This doesn’t just include naked cats, such as Sphynx cats. Freshly clipped long-haired cats or animals with particularly short or thin fur are also at increased risk.

Certain skin diseases or an infestation with parasites can lead to thinning hair and make the skin more prone to burns from the sun. Bald spots should therefore be well protected from the sun. Scar tissue from an injury or surgery is also very sensitive.

In some cases, too much sunlight can make an existing illness worse. Cats with autoimmune skin conditions absolutely need sunscreen, veterinarians advise.

Particularly sensitive: white cats

For humans, the following applies: the lighter the skin, the higher the risk of getting sunburn. It is no different with cats. White cats and cats with a white face, white ears, or white peritoneum can tolerate less sun than their other colored conspecifics.

How to Recognize Sunburn in Cats

The symptoms of sunburn are similar to us humans: A slight sunburn leads to reddening of the skin. In severe cases, vesicles form, inflammation and crust formation can occur. The skin will then peel later.

Sunburn causes pain and itching – even in cats. If your cat scratches itself extensively after being in the sun for a long time, this could indicate sunburn. By scratching, pathogens can get into the skin. Bacterial infections and even ulcers can result.

In the worst case, too much sun can lead to skin cancer in cats.

This is How You Can Prevent Sunburn

You should always provide a shady spot for an indoor cat that is allowed on the balcony in summer: extend the awning, put up a parasol or provide large, shady plants.

Unfortunately, some kitties still lay in the blazing sun. In any case, you cannot dictate to an outdoorsman where to spend his hours of sunshine. You can therefore especially apply sunscreen to the exposed parts of the body such as the bridge of the nose and ears. Hairless cats must be given cream all over their bodies.

Only use unscented, waterproof products with a sun protection factor of at least 30. Sun creams for babies, for example, are well suited as they usually have a high sun protection factor (SPF) and are free from fragrances, colors, and preservatives.

Treating Sunburn in Cats

If your cat has sunburned despite all the precautionary measures, the first thing you should do is provide her with a cool spot. Offer her plenty of freshwaters, because it cools from the inside.

The internet sometimes recommends applying yogurt or fat cream to the burned areas. Please do not use such “home remedies”. Because doing so could make the situation worse. Fat cream, in particular, can also accumulate heat.

If you have severe sunburn, you should definitely see a veterinarian. There you can treat the symptoms with special ointments and medication.

Your darling may have to wear a ruff for a while. This prevents your velvet paw from scratching burned areas on the face or licking the wounds.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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