Signs of nicotine addiction in a cat?

There is a post on the Reddit.com website in which a cat owner asks: “Why does my cat claw my hand until I give it to him after I smoke a cigarette? He wants to lick my hand clean and scratches me if I try to take my hand away.”

His cat wants to lick his hand after he has smoked a cigarette. It looks very much like his cat has become addicted to nicotine. Nicotine is addictive which is why people smoke and can’t give it up. The addiction is so strong that people still smoke even when they know that it is seriously harmful and even when they are reminded of that fact daily. People can be dependent on nicotine.

Nicotine is toxic to cats
Nicotine is toxic to cats. Click on the image to read more.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Nicotine can end up on the hands of smokers, their pets and children. In a study published in 2021, they found nicotine on the hands of children of parents who smoked. They concluded that “children had detectable hand nicotine”.

Nicotine is poisonous and an alkaloid derivative from the tobacco plant. It is toxic to humans, cats and dogs. Some cats are attracted to chewing tobacco. People don’t realise that nicotine is sold commercially in the form of a pesticide.

RELATED: 68% of smokers say that if their cat became ill through passive smoking they might stop

Interestingly, nicotine may cause permanent damage to hands as smokers have decreased blood flow in their finger skin compared to non-smokers.

The point of that long introduction on the toxicity of nicotine is to emphasise the fact that what this Reddit.com user is doing his entirely wrong. It appears that he is innocently asking why his cat is very eager to lick his hand after he smokes. He doesn’t realise the damage it is doing to his cat companion.

It isn’t just the second-hand smoke that his cat is ingesting but the raw nicotine as well on his hands. Cats are particularly vulnerable to second-hand smoke because it is deposited on their fur and of course they lick it off when they groom themselves.

Man smoking with cat on lap
Man smoking with cat on lap. Photo in public domain.

RELATED: Can smoking marijuana around my cat cause her harm?

All companion animals are very vulnerable to nicotine and second-hand cigarette smoke. Long-nose dogs are particularly vulnerable and the length of a dog’s nose is linked with the type of cancer that they can develop through inhaling second-hand smoke.

VCA Animal Hospitals quote a study, “the incidence of nasal tumours is 250% higher in long-nose dogs living in spoke-filled environments.”

Long-nose dogs are prone to nasal cancer while short-nose dogs often get lung cancer. The toxins and carcinogens in tobacco smoke build up in the nasal mucus putting long-nose dogs at particular risk of tumours.

Dogs and cats exposed to second-hand smoke have more eye infections, allergies and respiratory issues including lung cancer.

The conclusion that I have from this post on Reddit.com is that no caregiver of any companion animal should smoke in the vicinity of their pet. Their home should be free of cigarette smoke. And pet owners should wash their hands after they have smoked outside their home before interacting with their companion animal.

And this is exactly what another Reddit.com user says that he does: “There’s a ton of comments on here so I know it’s hard to find mine. I smoke outside and scrub my hands with dish soap when I come inside. I fend him off until my hands are fresh”. I replied to his comment by saying well done.

Below are some more pages on cigarette smoke.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

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