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Does a Sphynx Need Sunscreen? 8 Summer Safety Tips (Vet-Reviewed)

Written by: Brooke Billingsley

Last Updated on February 28, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

sphynx cat sitting in autumn leaves

Does a Sphynx Need Sunscreen? 8 Summer Safety Tips (Vet-Reviewed)


Dr. Karyn Kanowski Photo


Dr. Karyn Kanowski

Veterinarian, BVSc MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Sphynx cats are loveable for far more reasons than their unusual appearance, but their lack of hair does provide major appeal for many people. These felines have lots of specialized needs, though, with special care for their skin being at the top of the list. Sphynxes need baths regularly, and they may require special topical creams and lotions to maintain the health of their skin.

One thing that is often overlooked with all pets, though, is sun safety. While most pets have a fur coat to protect most of their skin from the sun, Sphynxes are left exposed, which can lead to some serious medical conditions. How should you best care for your Sphynx’s skin in the sun? Although you should never use human sunscreen on your precious feline, there are some other options to keep them safe. Read on to learn more.

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Do Sphynxes Need Sunscreen?

Just like people, Sphynxes are at risk for sunburn and skin damage from the sun, as well as squamous cell carcinoma, a potentially deadly skin cancer. Unlike in humans, melanoma on the other hand, is rarely seen in cats. Protecting your Sphynx’s skin from the sun is extremely important, but should you be putting sunscreen on your cat?

The first rule to follow is to never use human sunscreen on your Sphynx. Human sunscreens, although safe for people, can be very dangerous for pets. Never use human sunscreen on your cat unless directly ordered by a veterinarian, and always avoid sunscreens containing salicylates and zinc oxide, which can be toxic if licked by a cat or dog.

Image Credit: marinakarpenko, Shutterstock

Are There Any Sunscreens for Cats?

There are quite a few pet sunscreens on the market, but almost all are for dogs. There is currently only one that is FDA approved for safety and efficacy, but this too is only for dogs. The ingredients used in any products marketed for cats are likely to be okay, but will also provide little in the way of true sun protection. Be aware that even products marketed as being pet safe may still pose a risk of toxicity, so keep an eye on the ingredients list.

Before you start using a pet-friendly sunscreen on your Sphynx, it’s best to talk to your vet about the product beforehand. While sunscreen could be beneficial, there are multiple ways to protect your cat’s skin from the sun without the risks associated with sunscreens; we need to remember that anything you apply to your cat’s skin is not only going to be absorbed, but licked off.

If you do decide to use a pet-friendly sunscreen on your Sphynx, we would recommend placing a collar for one hour afterwards to stop them from immediately licking it off.

Image By: Igor Lukin, Pixabay

The 8 Summer Safety Tips for Hairless Cats

1. Keep Them Indoors

There are many benefits of keeping your precious feline indoors, such as protection from cars, rabies, and predators. For the Sphynx in particular, an indoor lifestyle will help protect them from sun damage in summer, and the chilly conditions of a harsh winter.

2. Sun Shelters

Due to the specialized needs of this breed, Sphynx cats should not be left outdoors unattended. Consider purchasing a sun shelter for your cat to provide them with cooler temperatures and shade during hot weather.

While catios can be a great way to allow your cat safe outdoor time, they can be cost prohibitive for many people. There are many pop-up sun shelters and tents on the market, with many products geared specifically toward pets. These are a more cost-effective way to provide your cat with shelter from the sun while keeping them contained.

Sphynx cat looking at camera
Image Credit: sophiecat, Shutterstock

3. Walk Them Only on a Leash

So, your Sphynx is insistent on going outside but you don’t have a yard or a safe place to put a shelter. This is a common problem for many cat owners, and the simplest solution is to train your cat to walk on a leash. Cat-specific harnesses are best for this purpose since dog harnesses may allow cats to slip out of them.

Teaching your cat to wear a harness and walk on a leash can be challenging, so be patient and start small. Slowly get your cat used to the harness and leash inside of your house. You’ll need to work up to taking your cat out of the comfort and safety of your home on a leash. Leash walking allows you to control where your cat can go, which allows you to keep them out of direct sunlight.

4. Offer Ice

Adding ice to your cat’s water bowl or offering small ice chips as a treat can be a good way to help your Sphynx maintain a safe internal body temperature during hot weather. Some cats may choose to play with ice chips instead of consuming them, which is perfectly fine.

When it comes to ice, though, it’s extremely important that you don’t attempt to use ice or ice water to cool your cat if you think they are suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke. The use of anything ice cold can bring the temperature of your cat’s skin down too quickly, which can make it more difficult for the body to focus its energy on cooling the core temperature and protecting the internal organs.

Sphynx cat on leash
Image Credit: Felix Mizioznikov, Shutterstock

5. Avoid Hot Surfaces

You’ve likely heard the adage that if the ground is too hot for you to walk barefoot, then it’s too hot for your pet as well. Hot surfaces can cause serious burns on the paw pads and skin, as well as make it more difficult for your cat’s body to keep itself cool.

Many people think of asphalt and concrete when discussing hot surfaces to avoid, but make sure to check the temperature of any surface before letting your cat onto it if the weather is hot and sunny. In direct sunlight, many surfaces can get hot enough to cause burns, including plastics, metal, stone, and wood. The addition of booties can help keep your cat safe when surface temperatures are high, but keep in mind that hot surfaces will also radiate heat, which will make it harder for your cat to maintain a safe internal body temperature. This is particularly important with hairless breeds like the Sphynx, whose whole body will be exposed to these surfaces, not just their feet.

6. Clothing

Putting clothing on your Sphynx cat may not be an ideal solution in very hot temperatures since they may cause your cat’s body to retain heat, but clothing can be used to protect the skin in direct sunlight.

Not all clothing is created equal when it comes to sun protection, though. Try to find clothing that has a UV rating. If that’s unavailable, choose fabrics that aren’t sheer or overly thin. Light-colored fabrics can limit the amount of heat buildup on and in the garment, but if temperatures are hot and you’re using clothing to keep your cat’s skin safe from the sun, then it’s best to limit their time spent in the sun to keep them from getting overheated.

black sphynx cat lying on the bed
Image Credit: Olga Shusters, Shutterstock

7. Don’t Forget Your Windows

Many sun-seeking Sphynxes will gravitate towards sunny spots in the house, so you may need to consider curtains or adding a UV coating to the glass to reduce their exposure in the hottest times of the year.

8. Cooling Products

There are a lot of great cooling products on the market that can help keep your cat cool and safe in hot temperatures. Cooling mats are usually relatively inexpensive and easy to find, and since cats are often curious about new things they can lay on, it’s likely that your cat will at least give it a try.

Blue folded pet cooling mat
Image Credit: ilona.shorokhova, Shutterstock


Summer weather can be dangerous for your cat for many reasons. While most people think of concerns related to heat exposure, many overlook the risk of sunburn and skin cancer with hairless cats. Make sure to take as many precautions as possible if you intend to take your Sphynx outdoors, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Keep their skin protected and provide them with everything they need to safely enjoy the warm weather.

Although there are some pet sunscreens available, none are currently FDA approved for use in cats, and some still contain products like zinc oxide. Talk to your vet about the best sunscreen options for your feline friend, and try some of our tips for keeping your Sphynx safe in summer.

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Featured Image Credit: jurra8, Shutterstock

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