Skin Cancer in Indoor Cats
Sun on cat’s whiskers
Can an Indoor Cat Develop a Cancer?
Most Australian cat owners are aware that outdoor cats can develop a cancer on their ears and nose due to ultraviolet sunlight. Are indoor cats under the same risk even they are not much exposed to a sun?
Yes. An indoor cat can develop skin cancer from over-exposure to the sun.
It is at risk of squamous cell carcinoma, a common malignant tumour of the skin – a serious and painful disease.
What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma?
Squamous Cell Carcinoma is most often caused by excessive exposure to sunlight. It occurs mostly in white cats, light-colored cats, and cats with white patches.
At a higher risk of skin cancer are cats with pale coloured nose, white ears, ears less covered with fur. Other areas commonly affected by cancer are cat’s belly, cat’s lips and eyelids. Although tumours can appear anywhere on the cat body.
Symptoms of Skin Cancer in Cats
Initial damage to the skin shows as a pink area or a red spot. Other symptoms include hair loss in the affected area, sores which are slow to heal, crusty like lesion.
Sometimes cat starts refusing to eat, experiences weight loss, and cat coat changes. Cat can start looking ill or lethargic.
How Much Is To Treat a Cat with Cancer?
Prices at a general veterinary practice may be less than costs for treatment at a specialist and can depend on where you live.
The cost at a specialist is approximately from $500 to $1,000 for the initial diagnostic testing. Cat surgery activities, when required, may then costs from $800 to $2,000. Chemotherapy, as one form of treatment, is $2,000 to $3,000. Radiation can be $5,000 or $6,000. It is costly to treat cancer.
Protect Cat against Skin Cancer
Grey and white cat is looking through a window under sunlight
Some tips to protect your cat against skin cancer and harmful UVA and UVB rays:
- Prevent your cat from excessive exposure to the sun between 10 am and 4 pm.
- Apply a waterproof sunscreen of SPF15 to cat’s ears, nose, and other areas at risk.
Ask your veterinarian about brands safe for cats. Sunscreen that is safe for dogs can be not suitable to cats. (We personally use a “toddler milk” sunscreen for our cats. It is not too thick, as some sunscreens are, and soaks very quickly so cats do not lick everything of it.)
- Veterinary oncologists suggest a regular nose-to-tail examination of cat’s skin. If you find any new bumps, lumps or suspicious lesions, see your veterinarian straight away.
- Consider installing solar shades or honeycomb shades for East- and West-facing windows to block UV rays. Look at shade materials that offer 90% protection levels.
- Tint windows. This will give you UV filtering protection and it will still maintain a nice view. Various companies offer UV filtering films that can be applied on windows.
If you live in Melbourne or a Melbourne country area, consult with TintShield. They specialise in this type of protection and offer various window film solutions.
Happy sunbathing to your protected cat!
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Tagged cancer, cat, indoor, outdoor, prevention, protect, skin, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, sun, sunlight, sunscreen, tumor