A snow white cat called Luna has had to have both ears amputated after she became badly sunburned.
Luna’s ears were blistered and painful from exposure to the sun which meant she was at high risk of developing skin cancer.
Luna underwent a delicate operation to remove her ears because vets feared the sunburn could one day claim her life.
Vets advise that owners of white cats apply sunscreen to their ears to stop them burning, but Luna had been living as a stray.
The eight-year-old domestic shorthair has now made a full recovery and her hearing has not been affected.
Volunteers at the charity Cats Protection in North Ayrshire, Scotland, are looking for a new home for her.
Volunteer Nina Chisholm said: “Every cat is different and she has had a rough time. She needs to know everything will be okay for her. In the right home she will be lovely.
“She will be a good pet for the right person. She needs time to get her confidence back. She can be loving when she knows you but she is quite guarded.
“People might be put off by the way she looks, but cats that have problems like only three legs or a missing eye quite often get the sympathy vote.”
Luna was once a pet but was found living stray in Kilmarnock in May by a member of the public who noticed her ears were in a pitiful condition.
Volunteers from Cats Protection rescued her and she was examined by a vet who feared she might already have begun to develop skin cancer.
Nina added: “She was reported to us as a stray, and the person who called had noticed that her ears were not in a good condition, so we went and picked her up.
“She has been a pet at some point but we think she has been fending for herself for a while, maybe a year or more.
“Her ears were pink, scabby and crusty, and were causing her pain. They would bleed if she rubbed them.
“Sometimes the vet will say to monitor them but in her case there was enough of an issue to recommend some surgery.
“Sunburn can lead to skin cancer in cats, so the vet recommended that the tips of her ears be removed.
“It was quite a big thing so it was done with a lot of thought, as we would never put a cat through surgery lightly.
“After the operation, the tissue from her ears was tested and it was good news for Luna as it had been caught in time.
“She recovered quite quickly from the operation. Her stitches dissolved and she was on painkillers to make sure she did not suffer any discomfort.”
Luna was kept under veterinary supervision while her ears healed, and is now being looked after at the home of a foster carer.
Nina added: “We would rather wait and make sure we find the right home for her. There is a home out there for every cat.”
The charity also urged people with pale-skinned cats to make sure their pets are protected from the sun.
Maggie Roberts, Cats Protection’s Director of Veterinary Services said: “White or pale coloured cats like Luna, or those who happen to have sparse hair on their ears, are most vulnerable to sunlight because they have little pigment or hair to protect them from harmful UVB waves.
“Symptoms of sunburn include redness, crusting or sores on the skin, especially on the white areas of the cat or areas with no protective pigment, such as those cats who have pink noses, so do speak to your vet promptly if you suspect your cat has sunburn.
“To help reduce the risk of sunburn, try to keep susceptible cats indoors or in the shade between 11am and 4pm when the sun is at its hottest.
“Sunscreen may be considered for application to the cat’s vulnerable areas such as the ears but do ensure that the sunscreen chosen is suitable for cats, as they can be more sensitive than some other animals to the chemicals included.”
Anyone who is interested in offering Luna a home should call the North Ayrshire Cats Protection on 0845 371 4218.
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