Before I go into detail, I’ll give you the bottom line:
After nosectomy for skin cancer your cat must stay indoors because going out in the sun can cause the cancer to come back. You should also consider providing some kind of protection from the UV rays that come in through your window glass.
UVA rays cause skin cancer and according to The Skin Cancer Foundation, “…at least 50 percent of UVA radiation can pass through windows.”
OK. Now I can ramble on about this and how I got to it. 🙂
During our initial consultation with Gorgeous’ surgeon, she said that we had to keep him inside forever after his surgery or it basically wouldn’t be worth doing because sun exposure would cause it the cancer to come back.
That was the only thing that I found truly worrisome and it came as a complete surprise. I know, I should have known that, but I hadn’t even thought about it.
At that point, based on his prior behavior, I expected it to be a challenge to keep him in until he healed from surgery. And that was all I had anticipated. I was ready to deal with it, no matter haw hard it was. But keeping him in indefinitely? I didn’t think it would be possible.
He was still semi-feral. He was totally cool and lovey with me as long as his sixth sense didn’t tell him a vet visit was imminent, and mostly OK with my husband, but being inside was a different story. He would come in the house with the door open, and even go nap somewhere, but when he woke up one night after he had gone to bed and closed the door he totally freaked out! He was scared and disoriented. That was a couple of years ago.
More recently he had spent time in the big crate while recovering from anesthesia for dental procedures and biopsies, but he was not happy with it and wanted to go straight outside as soon as he was out of the crate.
So we were totally amazed at how he took to being an indoor kitty after his nosectomy! He loves crashing out on couches, playing with toys, and he’s even cool with guests!
He also loves sitting in the windows. Of course, right? That’s what cats do. Even our outside cats like to sit on the outside window sills!
And then it hit me! This is a real problem. It’s wonderful that he enjoys looking out and he can sit in the upstairs windows and get a view he never had as an outside cat (one of his favorite things to do). But, I also knew that the cancer rays pass through glass, and when summer comes he’ll be looking out the screen door in mostly unfiltered sun.
Many people think that cancer causing rays are blocked by glass. That’s understandable. It was the old thinking. But, more recently, studies have found that is not the case.
Your windows block out UVB rays. Those are the ones that cause sunburn. And thank God for that or I would be a truly miserable human being! But, it turns out that glass allows 50% or more of UVA rays to pass through.
UVA rays don’t cause sunburn, but they cause deeper damage. Wrinkles, premature aging, and skin cancer. You can read about that at the Skin Cancer Foundation. You can also see a picture of a man who drove a delivery truck for 28 years and experienced premature aging and other skin problems on the left side of his face, but not the right, as a result of sun exposure through the window.
So, naturally I was worried about it, but I am not going to try and stop him from looking out the windows. For one thing, how the Hell do you do that without locking him in a closet or spray-painting all the windows black? OK, yes, I would spray-paint all my windows to save my cat’s life, but I won’t lock him in a cage.
Quality of life was a big consideration when making him be an indoor cat. I had already told his regular vet that, since he has demonstrated that he is fine to go out in every other way, the full-time indoor part would be conditional on how he tolerated it. And we were all very happy that he has taken to it, but she agreed that there has to be a balance between health concerns and quality of life.
My solution, so far, is a UV-blocking window film. I also plan to use UV blocking, breathable sunscreen fabric to block the UV from coming in the screen door.
This is a win/win solution! Not only does it protect Gorgeous, and the rest of us, from harmful UV rays, but it keeps the house cooler and it is supposed to help keep heat from escaping in the winter. So far we are pleased with the heat and glare reduction.
The film is inexpensive and fairly easy to apply, too.