Sunburn in cats

Danielle Petch
A tabby cat being stroked by its owner

Just like us humans, our cats can suffer sunburn, especially in hot weather — after all, we all know how much our kitties love sprawling out in a warm sunspot.

To help you recognise the symptoms of sunburn in cats, we spoke to the experts behind our 24/7 Vet Advice Line. So, if you’re asking yourself, “Does my cat have a sunburn?” or want to know how to treat a sunburn on a cat, then read on...

Sunburn in cats: 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.  

Identifying the signs of sunburn in cats

There are several signs to look out for when it comes to identifying sunburn in cats. These include redness of the skin (particularly in the ears, nose and tail), pain in the affected areas, itching and scratching. Some cats may also experience thickening of the skin or hair loss at the site of sunburn.

A tabby cat being stroked by its owner

How to treat sunburn in cats 

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.   

How to prevent sunburn in cats 

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 areas most susceptible to sunburn and reapply this throughout the day. 


To help keep pets safe and happy at home, during all sits TrustedHousesitters members have unlimited access to a free 24/7 Vet Advice Line — just head to your dashboard to get in touch.

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