Can indoor cats get sunburns?

Cats, especially hairless or light-colored ones, are especially prone to sunburn and skin cancer. Vulnerable parts are tips of ears, nose and paws.

Cats are very smart creatures. They can tell when they are feeling too hot, and they know to move to a cool, shady area out of the scorching sun. But feeling too hot is not the issue — getting too much ultraviolet exposure is. This is where you as the responsible pet owner do your part. Too much UV exposure can still damage feline skin, without showing obvious sunburn.

Some people think indoor cats are safe from harm. Not true! UV rays can filter through glass, and that can create a serious problem. Err on the safe side and go through your house to close the drapes, blinds or doors to any glassy areas. Also, you can buy some easily applied removable UV filter window film at your local home improvement type store. This allows your cat to sit right in the window if desired and not get burned. It also keeps your home cooler and provides a good deal of privacy. They even make a kit with just the right amount for sliding glass doors.

To protect your cat— whether she lives indoors or spends time outdoors — follow these guidelines:

• It is very important that you keep your cat indoors during the sunniest part of the day. The UV rays tend to be the strongest between about 110 a.m. and 4 p.m. If your cat MUST go outside, it is important that you apply sun-block to the tips of your cat’s ears.
• Use a specially formulated sunscreen for cats. There are several sunscreen products that are applied to the ears and the nose of white and otherwise sun-sensitive cats, which can help relieve their pain, sooth their skin and can really help prevent sunburn. But it needs to be a safe sunscreen that is formulated for cats.

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