This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.
You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.
White cats have an increased risk of developing cancer of the ears. Why ?
The exact mechanism which leads to white cats having a higher risk of developing cancer of the ear margins is not known, but most experts agree that it is probably due to exposure to high doses of ultraviolet rays in sunlight. Because the hair covering of the pinna of the ears is very thin it provides very little protection to ultraviolet rays in sunlight. There are other situations in which ultraviolet light can harm animals - typically dogs with white bridges to their nose (such as collies) may develop photosensitisation - which leads to sores and bleeding. Also, pigs kept out in the open can easily develop sunburn if they lie out in the direct sunlight for too long.
The type of cancer that develops in white cats is usually a malignant form - called squamous cell carcinoma. Diagnosis is usually confirmed by examination of the tissue which is surgically removed. Most cases respond well to surgical excision, unless the tumour has been present for some time when it can spread.
It is a good precaution to discourage white cats from spending long periods in direct, bright sunlight..
Updated October 2013