Vet Advice - Sunburn in Cats

a long haired ginger cat

What is it?

Sunburn, also known as solar dermatitis, happens when an animal has prolonged exposure to the sun. Any animal can be susceptible to this, but white and light-coloured coats are more prone to developing sunburn.

Areas with less hair like ears, noses and the tips of tails are the places that we need to be more cautious about. Sunburn can progress to a malignant skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. 


If you think your cat has developed sunburn, then you must contact your vet for further advice. Your vet may give you an ointment to apply and possibly a buster collar to prevent the cat causing more damage.

In very extreme cases or cases where skin cancer is suspected your cat may need an operation to remove the damaged tissue. 


Prevention is better than cure as they say. Keep your cat indoors during the warmest parts of the day. Provide lots of shaded areas outside.

Cats do like to lie in warm spots so you may have to encourage them to use these shaded areas. Use a pet friendly sunscreen on the area’s most susceptible to sunburn and reapply this throughout the day.

For further advice on this or any other pet health matters, call or live chat our team of Registered Vet Nurses on The Vet Helpline 24 hours a day.

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