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Ask the Doctor July 2016 Issue

Dear Doctor - Safe sunscreen for cats

Choosing a cat-safe sunscreen

Q I have searched extensively for a safe, higher SPF sunscreen for my white cat. I tried Epi-Pet spray, which she did not like and immediately tried to groom off.

She is more tolerant of Aveeno’s Protect + Hydrate® Lotion Sunscreen with Broad Spectrum SPF 70 — which does have some questionable cat-safe ingredients — but as she does not try to groom it off, I doubt she is ingesting any.

I would love to find a sunscreen product that is definitely considered safe for cats. Do your veterinariarians know of any?
Frances Giandalone

A Dear Frances: As far as I know, there are no sunscreen products specifically formulated for cats in the U.S. market. There are a few products designed for animals (among them the Epi-Pet Spray, which you mentioned), but none specific for cats. We usually recommend water resistant products for humans that contain a SPF of 30 or higher and that do not have strong odor.

Also, we prefer products that are not too thick and have a rapid rate of absorption. One of our choices is the Aveeno product that you are currently using and mentioned in your correspondence. We also recommend the Bullfrog water-resistant products because they seem to be well tolerated by cats.

You need to apply these products on the most sensitive areas of your cat’s skin three times a day if she is living outdoors. In any case, if your cat has lesions on the ears (erythema, inflammation, crusting), you should avoid sunlight exposure, and keep her indoors.

In cats, as in humans, the solar UV radiation is a common cause of skin cancer. I would recommend that you consult with your family veterinarian to have your cat’s ears examined and diagnosed.
Lluis Ferrer, DVM, PhD, DECVD
Professor of Veterinary Dermatology
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University

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