Smokers already understand that their habit isn't good for their health, but few people understand the effect that smoke can have on their feline companions. The way your pet interacts with smoke might not be something that you think about; after all, you're more used to hearing how nicotine and tar can provoke negative health issues in humans. However, smoke is also a real problem for your cat.
Why Are Cats Affected by Cigarette Smoke?
When you smoke in the same room as a non-smoker, you are subjecting that other person to second-hand smoke, and the same is true for cats. When you fill your home with smoke, they will be breathing it in. Some people assume that the smoke won't be as heavy near the floor, but this is just not true.
Furthermore, cats are incredibly vulnerable to third-hand smoke. This might be a new concept to even long-time smokers; third-hand smoke refers to the residue that remains on skin, clothing, furniture, flooring, and, yes, even fur. Cats spend plenty of time patrolling the floor or lying directly on furniture, so they're breathing in right next to where those carcinogenic particles have been left to linger.
Even worse is the fact that cats spend significant portions of each day grooming themselves. A cat will essentially be licking the toxins found in cigarette smoke right off their fur.
These factors lead to a significant build-up of toxins within a cat's body. One study demonstrated that cats from homes where smoking was reported had significantly more nicotine in their urine (70.4 ng/mL) than cats from non-smoking households (4.89 ng/mL)
What Effect Does Cigarette Smoke Have on Feline Health?
Cats are subject to the same kinds of health issues as humans when they are subjected to cigarette smoke, and there is plenty of emerging evidence to back this statement up.
One study found that, even after adjusting for age and other factors, cats who were exposed to smoke were significantly more likely to develop feline malignant lymphoma, which often proves deadly. The association grew with both duration and the number of cigarettes smoked.
Another study investigated incidences of squamous cell carcinoma, an aggressive form of oral cancer that can occur in cats. They found that cats exposed to the smoke of one to 19 cigarettes each day were a stunning four times more likely to be diagnosed with the condition. This is thought to be largely due to their self-grooming habits.
If you haven't already quit smoking for your own sake, you should consider how it's impacting your cat's health. Contact a vet for more information.