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I used to think it was kind of strange how every summer so many women in Japan carry parasols, as though the whole country suddenly slipped back in time to the 19th century. I soon came to understand that this isn’t due to any sort of classic image of propriety or fashion sense, but simply because Japan can be mercilessly hot in the summer, when high temperatures and humidity can make walking around a concrete heat island like Tokyo for too long not just uncomfortable but dangerous.

In light of how much walking you have to do in urban Japan, parasols are actually a pretty smart idea. Still, sometimes they can do their job a little too well, since being insulated from the harsh sunshine can sometimes make you forget about the importance of putting on sunscreen.

There’s now a cute new way to remedy this, though, with a parasol that uses cat paws to tell you how strong the UV rays are.

The Cat Stroll UV Parasol (Neko no UV Osamp Higasa in Japanese) went on sale July 29, just in time for the hottest part of summer. The 110-centimeter-wide (39.4-inch) umbrella is made with a specially coated fabric that’s durable enough to be used in the rain as well, and provides a deep enough shade that on a sunny day it’s been tested to be 13 degrees Celsius cooler under the umbrella than outside it.

▼ Ordinary umbrella (left) vs. Cat Stroll UV Parasol (right)

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That same material also blocks out 100 percent of UV rays, according to manufacturer Izavell. Still, at some point during your day, odds are you’re going to find yourself in a situation that requires you to fold up the umbrella, at least temporarily. But if you’re about to sit down and enjoy a glass of iced coffee at an outdoor café, do you need to put on some sunblock?

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To help gauge the situation, the paw marks printed on the umbrella change color in response to the strength of the UV rays striking it. As the sunlight gets harsher, the color of the paws deepens, going from white to pink.

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The umbrella can be ordered directly from Izavell here for 3,780 yen (US $37.40), which includes the carrying case shown above. And even though stern-faced doctors and concerned parents have been warning us for years about the damaging effects of over-exposure to the sun, we think there’s also something to be said for these kitties’ soft-touch persuasion.

Source, images: @Press
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