The sun of Northern Ireland gave this cat ear cancer

Northern Ireland is notorious for dull, damp, grey days or that is how I visualise the country. Rain constantly sweeps up from the south-west. One thing is certain, there is not a lot of sun in Northern Ireland and yet it was enough to damage this cat's ears to the point where skin cancer developed perhaps about a year or so later. When this white cat was found and fostered by a volunteer working for Cats Protection she had to be taken to a veterinarian to have her ear flaps amputated. As it happened, she had also been involved in a car accident and lost an eye as well.

The sun of Northern Ireland gave this cat ear cancer
 The sun of Northern Ireland gave this cat ear cancer. Photo: Cats Protection.

As you can see she is all-white and as you probably know all-white cats are particularly susceptible to sunburn of their ear flaps. This is because there is less protection of the skin because white fur is hair without pigmentation and in any case the fur on a cat's ear flaps, as you also know, is very thin indeed. There is almost no protection from the sun's ultraviolet light.

It is a precautionary tale with the summer coming up. She has been named Smurf and the moral of the story is that even in quite wet, overcast climates such as that of Northern Ireland the sun can cause sunburn on cat ear flaps. The Cat Protection central veterinary officer, Sarah Elliott, said that: "Even on a cold day, when the sun is bright there is still the potential for damage to occur. Pale-coloured cats like Smurf are particularly at risk, or indeed any cats that have unpigmented white noses or ears."

You can apply sunscreen to a cat's ears and you might ask your veterinarian for his or her advice on the best product. And of course on those particularly hot days you can keep your cat inside if that is practical. I know that outside cats find it very difficult to remain inside. This may encourage the owner to let them out in the interests of peace and quiet. Under those circumstances I would have thought that sunscreen on the ears would be essential particularly if your cat is light-coloured as mentioned.

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