Everything You Need To Know About Preventing Sunburn in Cats

Cats love sleeping in sunny spots, we all know that! But did you know that cats can get sunburn? Feline sunburn is a topic that is very often overlooked by can owners, but if you read this guide you will be prepared to protect your kitty from the painful effects of too much sun worship.

Some cats are more prone to sunburn that others

Have you noticed that black cats tend to have dark skin beneath their fur, whilst cats will have pale skin beneath any white fur? Cats with dark fur (and thus dark skin) have more melanin in their skin, and just as in humans melanin helps to protect against the harmful effects of the sun. That means that white cats, and cats that have white noses or ears, are more prone to sunburn. Hairless breeds of cats are also at higher risk of sunburn.
So, if you have a cat with white fur, no fur, or a white nose, you may need to take extra precautions to keep them out of the sun during the hot parts of the day (between 10am and 4pm).

What is cat sunburn called?

Feline sunburn is referred to as solar dermatitis by veterinarians. Its symptoms include reddened, scaly and itchy skin which can develop into fur loss. In severe cases it can lead to cancerous growths in the skin which will need surgical removal.
You will often first notice the effects of sunburn in the delicate skin around your cat’s ears. Cats find that their skin becomes super itchy when it is burned and so they will start scratching at it or over grooming it, which can lead to further damage to the skin in the form of bleeding and ulceration, and even more discomfort.
Sounds horrible, doesn’t it? Luckily, preventing your kitty from getting sunburned is actually very simple!

What can you do to prevent sunburn?

The most practical thing to do is to limit the amount of time that your kitty spends in the sun, particularly when the sun is strongest between 10 am and 4 pm. Your cat can still enjoy the warmth of the early morning and later afternoon sun!
If your cat has particularly pale and delicate skin, you could invest in some feline sun block. It will need to be waterproof and, of course, not harmful to cats’ skin. As we all know cats are constantly grooming themselves so you want to make sure that if they lick a sun block covered paw they are not going to get sick. Talk to your veterinarian about the various options that are available to you.

If you have some simple items lying around the house you can make an easy DIY Cat Tent for them to sit in out of the hot sun.

What can you do if your cat is already sunburned?

Take that cat straight down to the surgery! You will be able to buy some steroid cream which you can apply to the burned places on your cat’s skin to soothe the inflammation and your veterinarian may also prescribe an analgesic cream which will stop them from feeling so uncomfortable. Steroid creams and analgesics can also be administered orally.
With these creams or other meds, your cat’s sunburn should not last too long, and then you can use the preventative methods described above to stop it happening again.