The Dangers of Secondhand Smoke and Your Cat

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio
It’s a bad habit that’s hard to break. But we think you’d find it easier to quit if you knew what secondhand smoke was doing to your cat.

If you’ve been thinking about quitting smoking but you need another push, consider the fact that your secondhand and thirdhand smoke could be having a detrimental effect on the health of your cat. Keep reading to learn more about how your smoking habit could be shortening your pet’s life.

An Increased Risk of Cancer

Kitties who live in homes with people who smoke have an increased risk of developing cancers of the lymph nodes and mouth. It is important to note that, beyond inhaling the secondhand smoke, cats can also ingest toxic substances from cigarettes in the form of thirdhand smoke that deposits on their fur. Basically, when they groom themselves (and we all know how cats love to groom themselves often), these pets expose the mucous membranes within the mouth to carcinogens that could lead to disease.

Related: Is Vaping a Safe Alternative Around Your Pets?

Several studies have already confirmed that secondhand smoke and thirdhand smoke could affect cats of all ages. For example, one study determined that kitties living in households with individuals who smoke will have an increased risk of developing lymphoma. Another study found that exposure to toxic cigarette smoke could increase a cat’s risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma.

The longer that cats are exposed to the toxins from cigarettes, the greater their risk of developing cancer will be. Also, the more smokers that are in a household, and the more cigarettes that are smoked in a day, the greater the risk of a cat becoming ill will be.

Other Health Risks

On top of an increased risk for multiple types of cancer, kitties who are exposed to cigarette smoke could also be at a greater risk of developing other health problems, such as eye irritation and lung disease, and their nervous systems could be adversely impacted as well. Experts have even found toxins, including nicotine, in the urine of kitties who live with smokers.

Related: How Second-Hand Smoke Affects Your Dog

Smoking can be especially harmful if your cat is exposed to smoke in an area that is poorly ventilated. Experts also warn that even using a ventilation system may not be sufficient at removing the toxins from the air, and it could take several hours for the smoke from just one cigarette to totally clear from your environment.

What About Vaping?

It seems that the jury is still out on whether or not vaping is safe to do at all, especially around pets. Experts believe that toxic chemicals might be released by e-cigarettes, and exposure to the e-liquid through ingestion or absorption into the skin could also be toxic to cats. Therefore, they recommend quitting your nicotine addiction completely rather than substituting cigarettes with e-cigs.

What You Can Do

If you’re ready to quit smoking, you can take it one step at a time until you’re finally freed from your addiction. In the meantime, to keep your pets safer, you can smoke only outside in an effort to reduce the amount of toxins in your home. You can also use an air purifier to remove toxins from the air as much as possible. Some experts even recommend washing your hair and changing your clothes after you’ve smoked, and you should always wash your hands after you smoke and prior to petting your cat.

Ultimately, quitting smoking will be a step in the right direction. You’ll be healthier for it, as will your family, including your pets.

Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

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