No, it is not illegal to smoke in a car with a cat but it could or, perhaps, should be in the UK because it is illegal to smoke in a car with anyone under 18 years of age in order to protect children and young people from the dangers of second-hand smoke i.e. passive smoking. I understand that in the USA some local authorities and some states have instituted a similar ban but there is no federal law about protecting children inside vehicles from smoking drivers.
We know that domestic animals don’t have the same status as humans and this is just another example. Could the driver, if he or she was smoking while driving, be prosecuted under animal welfare laws for animal abuse by causing their cat to inhale second-hand cigarette smoke?
We know that in the confined space of a car the intensity of the second-hand smoke is higher. We also know that domestic cats can suffer from passive smoking. It can cause allergies and potentially cancer just as it can for humans.
I do not think that it is unreasonable to at least ask the question whether smoking in a car with a cat is a form of cat cruelty and therefore potentially a crime under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in the UK or any other animal welfare statute in any one of the states of America.
It is highly unlikely, however, that a smoking driver would be prosecuted under animal welfare legislation under these circumstances. I am certain that it has never happened. This may be because no one has spotted it or complained to the police about it. I know of no case which has come before the police about a domestic cat passively smoking his owner’s cigarette smoke! Maybe it needs to be tested.
It is not an absurd thought although I’m sure cat hating trolls will see it as just that.