Because they have no skin pigmentation to protect them from the sun, white cats on Hydra are subject to skin cancer (squamous carcinoma). Due to constant exposure to the sun, their ears and nose become burnt. You can see them around the island with their ears curled up and burnt. When they develop cancer, their ears and nose develop a black crust. As long as only the tip of the ears is burnt and the cancer is not too advanced, these cats can be taken to a vet who will evaluate whether the affected skin can be removed. When the cancer reaches the nose or extends into the ears, there is nothing to do; eventually the animal will die, unfortunately in a very painful way.
Ideally white cats should stay out of the sun completely (otherwise someone should put sunscreen on their ears and nose all the time, which is not an easy solution, especially for street cats!). Hydra Ark strongly supports the adoption of white cats (such as beautiful Princess, the three-month-old kitten in the pictures). We also encourage their neutering as a priority among all cats: white cats should not reproduce and give birth to other cats with the same problem. If you live on Hydra and have white cats in your neighbourhood, and if you cannot keep them inside, please bring them to our vets for neutering. If you think they may have developed cancer on their ears, please bring them to the vet for examination.
If you are interested in adopting a cat, please consider contacting HA.
We would be happy to give you one.