Today Kitties Blue are supporting another very important event: Don’t Fry Day.
When our mom was a young girl she had several very bad sunburns. She was not a sun worshiper. She found lying and baking in the sun boring. In the 50s and 60s, parents didn’t understand the damage the sun was wreaking on their children’s skin or that they would pay for it later in life.
Since high school, Mom has tried to be very protective of her skin by staying in the shade and wearing sun block/screen. Even though she does this now, the damage was done. She’s had basel cell carcinoma. Additionally, in 1997, she lost her two best friends to malignant melanoma.
But, as we stated in yesterday’s teaser, skin cancer is not only a disease affecting humans. Animals are susceptible as well, especially those with white fur and pink noses as well as hairless breeds. Mom and Dad learned about this first hand with our angel brother, Madison.
When our humans adopted Madison as a stray, they’d never had an all-white kitty and had no idea that their sun lover was at danger. Then one summer, they noticed that the tips of Madison’s ears were crusty. Being good kitty parents, Madison was whisked off to the vet. That is when they learned about feline solar dermatitis.
As Madison’s ears were covered with fur, Mom and Dad never even considered that Madison could get a sunburn. But that’s exactly what was happening every summer. Madison had solar dermatitis caused by long-term exposure to sunlight and UV rays. This often clears up over the summer, as it did with Madison. Continued exposure, however, can lead to cancer of the outer layer of the epidermis (skin). This outer layer is made up of cells called squamous epithelium.
A squamous cell carcinoma is a type of cancer that originates in the squamous epithelium. It may appear to be a white plaque or a raised bump on the skin. Often the raised area will become necrotic in the center and develop an ulcer, which may bleed. This cancer is fast growing, invasive and usually malignant. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical as this cancer can easily metastasize to your cat’s organs.
Older cats with white or light-colored fur and living at high altitudes are most susceptible. The most common locations for tumors are the front of the nose, eyelids, lips, and ear tips, but lesions or growths can be found anywhere on your cat’s body.
The course of treatment will depend on the size and number of tumor(s). When lesions are diagnosed early before turning to cancer, it is possible to treat with topical medications. If only a small tumor is found and it has not spread to your cat’s organs, three methods exist for removing it:
- Cryosurgery (freezing)
- Light (photodynamic) therapy
Larger tumors will need to be removed surgically and skin grafting may be required. Some tumors may require amputation of ear tips, part of the nose or other body parts depending on the location of the tumor(s). Chemotherapy and radiation also may be required if the tumor cannot be removed completely.
Recurrence is possible making regular veterinarian exams critically important. A full recovery is dependent on size and location of the tumor(s).
To prevent development of solar dermatitis and squamous cell carcinoma, limit your cat’s exposure to direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If you do allow your cat outside during daylight hours, a waterproof sunscreen should be applied to the cat’s ears and nose.
For Don’t Fry Day, Mom will donate 50 cents to the Animal Cancer Foundation (with no maximum) for each comment on this post received prior to 12:01 a.m. EDT Monday. So please spread the word among your friends. The more comments, the greater the donation.
Also, please don’t forget to comment on yesterday’s post: Red Nose Day Commentathon. Mom will donate 50 cents per comment (no maximum) made prior to 12:01 a.m. EDT Sunday to the Red Nose Day campaign.
Thanks for helping us Pay It Forward!
Purrs and paw-pats, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo