Life-threatening lung disorders are commonplace in the cat world so says the Cornell Feline Health Centre. A cat’s lungs are very similar to ours bar some minor differences. It is fair to argue that what affects our lungs is likely to affect a cat’s lungs similarly. For instance passive smoking affecting cats is an issue in some households.
Findings published in the journal Science have claimed that volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from domestic products such as bleach, perfumes and deodorants are a source of air pollution on a par with car fumes. Yes, it is surprising, even shocking.
We would not leave our cat next to a busy road in a cat carrier all day. In some households that is what is effectively happening in terms of the inhalation of VOCs.
These household products are often derived from petroleum. In Los Angeles as much as 50% of VOCs come from domestic products. The same probably applies to other cities.
Twenty years of professional cleaning resulted in a fall in lung capacity and rise in asthma akin to that suffered by regular cigarette smokers.
Despite being used in vast quantities vehicle fuel is combusted efficiently these days. In terms of quantity these petroleum based household products are small compared to fuel but they give off VOCs in similar quantities. This is because petroleum based family products have been overlooked in terms of air quality.
The VOCs react with sunlight to form ozone and PM2.5 particles which are harmful to health. PM2.5 are a major global air pollution concern.
“The net result is it [VOCs from household products] rivals that from vehicles.” (Prof de Gout of the University of Colorado Boulder).
For the sake of human health I’ll predict that manufacturers of deodorants, oven cleaners and other products based on petroleum will have to find alternative ingredients for their products.
In the meantime cat owners should also be aware of these findings. They should ask if it is time to stop using deodorant for instance. Cat owners should research this topic and make up their own minds but the evidence will build. What affects us often affects our cats due to their similar fundamental anatomy.