Keep all your family sun-smart this summer – including your cats!
While we’re slapping on our own sunscreen and hats, we also need to protect our pets from the harsh New Zealand sunlight.
Cats are just as susceptible to skin cancers as we are, especially those with pale or white colouring. Many people don’t realise that a layer of fur is not always protection against harmful UV rays.
At CPW, we often see cats come through who have lost ears due to cancers, and noses are also vulnerable to melanomas. We also find cats with melanomas that have been missed and need to be treated immediately before the cancer becomes fatal.
The simplest preventative for cats who spend time outdoors is special sunscreen for cats, which you can pick up from your vet for an affordable price. Don’t use human sunscreen, as it can be toxic to them if they lick it off.
It’s also good to make sure they’re not falling asleep and spending too long in direct sunlight – whether inside or out. If the day is especially hot, you might want to encourage them to stay indoors. (Heatstroke can also affect cats.)
Keep a careful watch on your cat for moles or small, dark lesions appearing on ears, nose or face, and any changes in their skin colour or texture. If these are caught early enough, it’s simple enough for the vet to treat. Typically small lesions will be treated with cryotherapy, which uses liquid nitrogen to remove any affected skin.
Where cancers are further advanced, it’s common for part or all of the cat’s ears to be removed, which can affect their hearing as well.
Don’t take the risk – protect your cats from the sun this summer with sunscreen, and encourage them to nap in the shade.
Above: Bosco came into the CPW shelter with dark skin damage showing around his ears and face.
Below: He has now been treated by a vet, and most of his ears were removed.