Categories: cat welfare

For indoor cats, energy efficient homes may have a health drawback

Energy efficient homes tend to be built airtight to save energy which may trap polluted air inside risking the health of children and pets. The warning comes from two medical colleges in the UK. Modern energy efficient homes are increasingly popular and there is a drive to build many more in the USA.

Indoor home air pollution?

The advice provided states that homes should have a clean air rating. It has been a concern to me for while now that there is a lively discussion about polluted air outside the home due to NOx and particulates from vehicles but little recognition until now about polluted air inside homes where it can be trapped.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Royal College of Physicians say that they have found growing evidence that child health problems such as asthma, conjunctivitis, dermatitis, eczema and respiratory problems are linked to indoor air pollution.

This evidence must be a concern to cat owners because logically what affects children and adults also affects pets. The anatomy of the cat is very similar to that of humans. There is no logical reason why cats should be excluded from findings of this nature. The fact that there are millions of homes in the USA where cats are kept indoors full-time to protect them from predators and dangers outside could expose them to indoor air pollutant hazards more so than for indoor/outdoor cats.

Energy efficiency is important to reduce our use of fossil fuels and to prevent climate change, but without adequate ventilation it could inadvertently worsen indoor air quality and impact health. Difficult to diagnose cat health issues such as skin conditions may be linked to air quality.

It has occurred to me as well that airtight homes might exacerbate an allergy to cats because the allergen attached to cat dander is more likely to remain in the home due to a lack of adequate ventilation. Also dust mites and mould are supported by airtightness and insulation unless there is adequate ventilation to remove moisture in the air.

It comes down to a combination of external air quality, indoor pollutants and the ventilation of homes. Indoor air pollutants come from the outside as mentioned and from hazardous volatile compounds in personal care products, aerosol sprays, cleaning products, chemical preservatives in carpets, fire retardants in furniture, open fires, candles and air fresheners to name some.

They advise the following to mimimise the impact: vacuum regularly, venilate during and after cleaning and cooking, use the back rings of the hob as the hood will be more effective, clean condensation and mould, keep the trickle vents open, reduce the number of cleaning and cosemetic products, replace carpets with hard floors (good for minimising fleas too) and reduce dust collecting items.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a 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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