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Che effetto ha il sole sui gatti?

What effect does the sun have on cats?

Soon it will be dawn and the sun will appear on the horizon, intense and bright as ever. Sunbathing is the most beautiful moment of the day: who has never seen their cat lying on its belly enjoying the warmth it offers? There seems to be no limit to their heat resistance, and their state of relaxation and enjoyment pleases us.

Cats are mammals and, like all mammals, they need to maintain their body temperature. Especially when they sleep - their favorite activity - because during sleeping hours their metabolism works more slowly and their body temperature drops. When a cat wants to sleep, what it's really looking for is warmth, whether it's the sun, its cozy bed, our lap, a radiator or even an electronic device. For our pet there is nothing easier and more rewarding than enjoying the pleasure of a nap in the sun.

Although cats love the sun, we must take precautions and make sure that our pet does not get too much sun, especially in summer, especially if it is a cat with white fur or little fur.

The solar spectrum is composed of visible (40%), infrared (50%) and ultraviolet (9%) rays. Ultraviolet (UV) rays are divided into UVA rays, which are the most abundant, pass through the atmosphere and penetrate deep into the skin, and UVB rays, which are blocked by the ozone layer of the atmosphere and act more superficially on the skin. A part of the ultraviolet rays is reflected by the skin and fur, while a part is absorbed.

What are the benefits of sun exposure for cats?

Moderate absorption of ultraviolet radiation from the sun is a healthy contribution to the cat's health, as UVB rays allow the synthesis of vitamin D (calciferol) in the skin, which is necessary for the absorption of calcium and the formation of bone structures. However, the supply of vitamin D triggered by solar radiation is insignificant compared to the amount that our pet must obtain from the diet. We must not think that the sun replaces a balanced diet.

What damage can the sun do to cats?

Excessive or prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays can cause serious damage to the cellular components of the skin. The rays can damage the epidermis and superficial blood vessels of the dermis. Furthermore, they stimulate the production of free radicals, modify the structure of keratinocytes and alter the skin's natural protective mechanisms. When local skin immunity is impaired, the risk of bacterial infections in the area increases. Prolonged exposure to harmful levels of ultraviolet rays can lead to changes in the deep structures of the skin and the possible development of tumors. White-haired or uncoated cats are more vulnerable to these effects. In all other breeds, the edges of the ears, nose, lower eyelids and lips are the areas most at risk of injury.

Diseases or damage associated with the effects of the sun depend on radiation intensity, exposure time, the density of the animal's coat, pigmentation of the coat and skin, and individual susceptibility factors, such as the presence of a concurrent disease or other skin problems. The main effects to watch out for are

  • Burns : they are the most immediate and visible damage. If deep, they may be accompanied by secondary bacterial infections.
  • Solar or actinic dermatitis : red skin, hair loss, irritation and inflammation of the area. With increased exposure, scabs, ulcers, and blisters may appear and cause intense itching.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma : Chronic damage to the skin can lead to malignant transformation of cells, resulting in tumor development.
  • Hyperthermia or heat stroke : especially in the summer season, when temperatures rise to oppressive levels. Felines do not sweat and pant or lick themselves to release heat.

Although these diseases are not very common in cats, it is advisable to prevent these risks. We must try to avoid exposing our cats to sunlight, especially during the hottest hours of the day and for long periods of time. We should resort to the use of sun protection creams, specific for cats, and apply them on the areas of greatest risk. Creams marketed for humans should not be used because they may be toxic to the animal.

Finally, in case of suspicious injuries, let's contact your trusted vet, as we always do in case of doubts about the health of our furry friend. Let us always make them feel safe, because we love them, we protect them.

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