Should I put sunscreen on my cat?

Should I put sunscreen on my cat? Yes, under certain circumstances you might. White cats are particularly in danger of getting sunburn on the tips of their ear pinnae (flaps) because their skin is exposed there and cats with white fur appear to have less protection from their fur in these areas than cats with darker coats.

Should I put sunscreen on my cat?
Photo of ‘Winter’ by Ken Pope
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

This may be because white reflects light more than dark colours which absorb light. The reflected light impinges upon the skin. And the fur is very thin at the top of the pinnae. Factor 50 sunscreen can be applied to that area in moderation if your white cat goes outside in the summer.

If you have tried this and encountered problems such as your cat licking it off please leave a comment.

Of course it depends on the weather conditions which in turn depends on the location. There are some blisteringly hot places in the US in summer.

Catios

I’d suspect that white cat owners might keep their cat inside in the hot summer season or on particularly hot and sunny days. Catios (cat confinement areas attached to the house or apartment) come into their own under these circumstances too. They allow a cat safe outside space and protection from the sun if a section has a roof.

Sun burnt cat pinnae can cause cancer. The converse can happen in winter. Frostbite to the ear tips can result in the ear flaps being amputated. I have seen it before in a white cat.

A cat’s pinnae are the most vulnerable part of the cat’s anatomy to climatic conditions because of the lack of fur. It highlights the sensitivity of hairless cats such as the popular Sphynx to hot sun and cold which is why they are really indoor cats.

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1 thought on “Should I put sunscreen on my cat?”

  1. I’ve put sunscreen on ears since our vet slipped us a tiny free sample tube of human baby sunscreen about 20yrs ago. Yes, shocking, I know, it was FREE! 😉

    I have put it on ears that aren’t white too, as cats age, via battles and scrapes, or it’s just the way that particular cat is, the fur can be very, very thin on the pinnae.

    Every single cat, on every occasion I have applied sunscreen to it, has immediately licked it off, pausing only to tell me what they thought about it, with one dark look.

    Is there a gap in the market for sunscreen that tastes repulsive to cats? Would that be fair to the cat? Skin cancer isn’t fair.

    As a human I don’t like the stickiness of sunscreen whether in lotion or cream form. Even the sprays have that feel. It could be zinc causing the sticky? Do cats hate the feel of sunscreen? I don’t see why they wouldn’t have a preference.

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