Can domestic cats get asthma from cigarette smoke? The answer is a resounding yes. Domestic cats are just as likely to be made ill by passive smoking as humans. In fact they may be more susceptible to it than humans. This may partly be because they groom themselves so fastidiously and therefore lick off and ingest the chemicals in cigarette smoke from their fur.
Case Example of Cat Passive Smoking
There’s an interesting article in The Scottish Sun today. Veterinarians say that people are too often unaware of the risks that smoking can have on their cat’s health. A PDSA vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan said that their vets and nurses regularly see the impact that smoking can have on pets with problems such as asthma and chronic coughing or fatal diseases such as cancers.
Studies highlight the fact that this is a serious matter. Cat owners should be more aware of it. One woman woke up to the hazards recently. Her name is Jackie Fox. Her cat Alvin developed asthma. Jackie has been a regular smoker for 20 years. She took Alvin to her vet at the PDSA.
Her veterinarian said that her smoking was making her moggy ill and that she had to change her smoking habits. For years she had been smoking inside the home. She smoked in the same room that Alvin occupied.
She said: “I noticed that he was really wheezy when breathing so I took him to PDSA and they told me my smoking could be affecting him. He is my baby so I was horrified to think that my smoking could be harming his health.”
She now smokes outside the home. She immediately saw him improve. Just in a few weeks he got better. Apparently, there is also a link between cigarette smoke and nasal and sinus cancers in dogs, especially long-nosed dogs.
Of course it isn’t just about cats and dogs. All pets are at risk through passive smoking. Another risk to domestic cats is that they may develop mouth cancers. Once again this would be due to their self-grooming habits when they ingest carcinogens through the mouth.
The PDSA have launched a new campaign for National No Smoking Day to highlight the dangers and to urge smokers to stop lighting up around their companion animals.
A Bit about Feline Asthma (Feline Allergic Bronchitis)
Asthma is an hypersensitivity to environmental allergens. Feline asthma affects 1% of all cats. Siamese cats might have an increased risk. Asthma can be triggered by tobacco smoke which is an allergen. An acute attack begins by the sudden onset of difficulty in breathing accompanied by wheezing and coughing. The wheezing can be heard as the cat exhales. It can be heard by the naked ear. The cat may sit with his shoulders hunched. He may lie down with his mouth open straining to breathe. The mucus membranes may be blue. Immediate veterinary attention is needed to relieve bronchial spasms and ease the distress (Source: Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook).
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