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Soaring temperatures put cats at risk of skin cancer

26 June 2018
Soaring temperatures put cats at risk of skin cancer

Cat owners are being urged to protect their pets from sun exposure during the current heatwave as they may be at risk of developing sunburn and skin cancer.

Cats Protection says cats with white or pale ears or noses are particularly susceptible to the sun’s harmful rays – with some needing drastic surgery to repair sun damaged skin.

The charity warns that white cats don’t have a pigment called melanin in their skin, which is what protects humans from sunlight.

This can leave them vulnerable to sun damage - usually around the ears.

One such cat is 13-year-old Tiara who had her ears removed before coming into Cats Protection’s Bridgend Adoption Centre.

“Not everyone realises that cats can develop skin cancer from too much sun exposure and certain pale cats, like Tiara, are more at risk,” said Cats Protection spokesperson Louise Waters.

“Over time, the damage caused can increase the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma which is a skin cancer that occurs when the skin becomes damaged from overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.”

"The best way to protect your cat is by keeping him or her indoors during the hottest part of the day, particularly during the summer months. We understand that’s not always easy so it’s also a good idea for cat owners ask their vet to recommend a suitable sunscreen.”

While most cats will be perfectly safe in summer, there are other potential hazards to be aware of so the charity has compiled some tips to help cat owners: 

  • Encourage your cat to drink more by placing water bowls away from food bowls, using glass, ceramic or metal bowls instead of plastic and making sure they are large with a big surface area. Keep the water topped up so your cat doesn’t have to put their head into the bowls and never leave your cat without any water at all. Some cats prefer running water so try offering them a water fountain. Place water bowls in different places around the house so they will always find somewhere to drink 
  • Read the label on pest control products - slug pellets which contain metaldehyde can prove fatal to cats, so make sure any pest control products are safe for felines. 
  • Take care with barbecues - ensure barbecue coals are properly cooled with water as your cat can suffer nasty burns if they jump onto them once you are finished. 
  • Check your plants and flowers are feline friendly - certain ones can be toxic to cats, particularly lilies. Avoid buying lilies, both for outdoor and indoor arrangements and, if you think your cat has eaten or come into contact with any part of a lily, then get him to a vet as soon as possible. 
  • Keep the doors of sheds and greenhouses shut – be careful not to accidentally trap cats inside outbuildings during hot weather. 
  • Ensure your cat has appropriate flea treatment - fleas thrive in hot weather, so make sure your cat is protected against them. Your vet will be able to advise on what treatment is most suitable for your pet. 

More information on how to look after cats in hot weather can be found on Cats Protection’s website

A photo of Tiara can be downloaded here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/7r539qc4ticrj3n/Tiara%20-%20Bridgend.JPG?dl=0

- Ends - 

For further information or an interview, please contact Cats Protection’s Media Office on 01825 741 911, at media.office@cats.org.uk, or @CPMediaTeam on Twitter. 

Notes to Editors

  1. Cats Protection is the UK’s leading feline welfare charity and helps around 200,000 cats each year through a national network of over 250 volunteer-run branches and 34 centres.

  2. Cats Protection’s vision is a world where every cat is treated with kindness and an understanding of its needs.

  3. Cats Protection’s registered charity number is 203644 (England and Wales) and SC037711 (Scotland). Founded as the Cats Protection League in 1927, the charity adopted the name Cats Protection in 1998. We ask that you use the name Cats Protection when referring to the charity in all published material.

  4. More information about the work of Cats Protection can be found at www.cats.org.uk