Categories: poison

Does passive smoking affect cats?

I am surprised that people use Google search to ask whether passive smoking affects domestic cats. Surely, it is obvious that it does or at least increases the risk of getting cancer. Why should domestic cats be excluded from passive smoking when we know full well that humans are affected by passive smoking? Arguably, pet cats are more susceptible to harm from passive smoking than humans because they are fastidious self-groomers. Nicotine may become deposited on their fur. They lick it off and ingest it.

Passive smoking pets can develop cancer. Image: PoC.

We have to presume that domestic cats are harmed by passive smoking although smokers’ groups say that the dangers are greatly exaggerated. If they’re saying that they’re saying that passive smoking in general is greatly exaggerated which is incorrect. Passive smoking is the reason why smoking is banned in public places in the UK and has been since 1 July 2007. You don’t make such a wide-ranging important law without there being a good reason for it.

If smokers are still in doubt, a search on the Internet reveals thousands of articles on the subject all of which support the fact that cats can suffer from passive smoking. A further more refined search throws up a reference to the topic in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute Volume 94 Issues 13-24. To quote:

A 2002 study highlighted another reason to give up cigarettes: pet cats who were exposed to environmental tobacco smoke had more than twice the risk of lymphoma compared with cats that lived in smoke-free homes. Those with five or more years of exposure had 3.2 times the risk.

Cat passive smoking is potentially bad for a cat’s health. Image: PoC.

Some associated pages (there are many more, please use the custom search:

Another source, Tobacco Smoke and in Voluntary Smoking, Volume 83; Volume 628 refers to malignant lymphoma in domestic cats and a case study. The study concluded that the relative risk of malignant lymphoma for cats exposed to any household tobacco smoke was 2.4. That means that they have an increased risk of 2.4 times the normal. The risk increased with both duration and level of exposure. There appears to be a linear trend and cats exposed to tobacco smoke for five or more years had an increased risk of developing malignant lymphoma by a factor of 3.2.

The Official Journal of the European Communities: Information and notices, volume 35, issues 254-283 also makes the point that passive smoking can aggravate existing conditions such as asthma in cats.

Cat, Alvin, developed asthma through passive smoking. Photo: The Scottish Sun.

The study referred to took place at a large Massachusetts veterinary teaching hospital between 1993 and 2000. The study was designed to evaluate whether exposure to household environmental tobacco smoke may increase the risk of feline malignant lymphoma.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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