Cats like to roam around in the sun. However, too much exposure to the sun can put cats at risk of developing life-threatening diseases. Just like humans, harmful UV rays can cause skin cancer. The most common type of sun-induced cancer in cats is called squamous cell carcinoma, which affects the squamous epithelium. The epidermis (skin) of the cat has multiple layers, and the external layer is formed of scale-like structures called squamous epithelium. The sun-induced squamous cell carcinoma causes cats to develop white plaques or raised bumps in the squamous cells. This condition can further lead to ulcers, causing severe bleeding.
Squamous cell carcinoma is malignant in nature, so it should be immediately diagnosed and treated. Instances of cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas, or malignant tumors, and Bowen’s disease, or severe skin sores are widely common in cats these days. Proper diagnosis at the ulcer stage can prevent the condition from becoming fatal. While this condition is seen in cats living in high altitudes, exposed to the direct rays of the sun, it can affect domestic pet cats as well. With the temperatures soaring high, pet owners must take preventive measures to prevent their pets from developing these malignant diseases. Here’s what you need to know about skin cancer in cat and its prevention.
Skin cancer in cats can lead to fatal consequences. However, proper diagnosis and treatment can save your pet’s life. There are several factors that put cats at risk of developing skin cancer. Here are some common factors that cause skin cancers in cats:
Prolonged Exposure to UV Rays
For any cat lurking outside in the sun, there’s always the risk of developing fatal skin cancer. The direct exposure to UV- rays can cause severe damages to the squamous epithelium, leading to the development of malignant tumors and ulcers. Cats with pale ears and noses are at higher risk of getting skin afflictions. The high temperature can adversely affect the epidermis layer if it’s exposed to the sun for a long period of time.
White cats have extremely high chances of developing squamous cell carcinoma. Unlike humans, who have traces of melanin in their skin, pale cats don’t have the pigment to repair skin damages. They are, therefore, at greater risk of getting afflicted with malignant skin diseases. Cats with light-colored furs are vulnerable to the sun and can develop fatal skin sore around the nose and ears.
Some breeds of cats, like Bambino cats, Donskoy cats, Elf cats, Peterbald cats, Sphynx cats, Ukrainian Levkoy cats, etc., have no fur due to an underactive thyroid. The hairless epidermis can’t block the UV ray, making them vulnerable to skin diseases.
Cats living in high altitudes are directly exposed to the sunlight, and this long-term exposure to the UV-rays puts them at risk of developing cancer.
Cat owners should periodically visit veterinary clinics for through health checkups. With temperatures soaring high, effective preventive measures should be taken to prevent skin diseases. Pet owners need to provide vets with a case history of their cat’s health. Factors like skin injuries, flea infestation, or skin rashes can contribute greatly to developing skin cancer. Once all details have been provided, your vet can study the skin growths and open sores for diagnosis. Since such skin diseases are malignant in nature, medical procedures like x-ray and scans are recommended to make a thorough inspection of lungs and organs. Standard biopsies can confirm the nature of the growth or sore.
The best preventive measure is keeping your cat in shade during the summer days. Since pets don’t sweat as much as humans, they cannot keep themselves cool. So pet owners need to provide cats with lots of water to help them cope up with the heat. For pet roaming outside in the sun, proper clothing is recommended. There are various UV- protective T-shirts available that can block UV-rays. Pet-safe sunscreens can go a long way in protecting cats from harmful UV rays. A major concern with cat sunscreens is that most commercially available pet sunscreens are not FDA-approved, and have PABA, zinc oxide, octisalate, and other kinds of toxins. Only FDA-approved sunscreens are recommended to prevent hazardous consequences.