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I’m not going to lecture you on the rights and wrongs of cigarette smoking (it’s entirely your choice), BUT it is well documented in various research studies that the effects of passive or second-hand cigarette smoking are almost as bad as smoking itself.
A cat’s lungs are almost identical to human lungs, only much smaller, so if second-hand smoke is damaging to humans including children, just think what it could be doing to your pets. If you’re not already doing so, then I encourage you to make the conscious decision not to smoke around your pets.
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Problems Caused by Smoking Around Cats
- Asthma – Inhaling cigarette smoke is a common cause of feline asthma, and the respiratory disease is as unpleasant for cats as it is for us humans. It isn’t just wheeziness or shortness of breath that will alert you if your cat has become asthmatic; look out for things like his lips and gums turning blue or him coughing up foamy mucus. Scary, right?
- Other Respiratory Issues – As well as asthma, there are other respiratory problems that your cat can pick up if you smoke around him. Viral infections, emphysema, COPD and pneumonia can all be brought on by second-hand smoke, and a cat living in an environment where smoking is commonplace is likely to take much longer to recover from any respiratory diseases than a cat in a smoke-free home would.
- Cancer – The risk of the big ‘C’ isn’t limited to human smokers, or passive smokers; your cat is also much more likely to develop lung cancer if you smoke around him. And it’s not just breathing in the smoke that’s harmful; the nasties in your cigarette smoke will linger on his fur, and you know how much your cat loves to groom. He’ll be ingesting the damaging chemicals from his fur as he grooms, and increasing his risk of developing mouth cancer.
- Nicotine Poisoning – Nicotine is toxic to cats, so if your curious cat finds any cigarettes or tobacco lying around and decides to have a chew, at best he’ll get sick, and at worst it could be fatal.
How Can You Avoid Smoking Around Cats?
The most obvious way to keep your cat safe from second-hand smoke is to give up, but I know it’s not always that easy. If you’re happy to be a smoker then that’s fine, but you need to consider ways to prevent your cat from becoming a passive smoker.
Why not turn your house into a smoke-free zone? Smoking outdoors isn’t just good for your cat; it’s good for your home as well. No more nicotine stained walls and ceilings, and your non-smoker friends will probably find it more pleasant to visit.
If you have a designated ‘smoking room’ that’s a cat-free zone and the only room where smoking is allowed then that’s a good option too, but remember that the smoke will still be able to travel under the door and into the rest of the house, so it’s not the ideal solution.
Lastly, don’t go straight from smoking to petting your cat without washing your hands thoroughly first to make sure that you’re not transferring carcinogenic toxins onto his fur.
Whether you choose to smoke or not smoke, the one thing we pet lovers have in common is that we care deeply for our cats and dogs. Show just how much you care, by making these small changes in your smoking household and help your pets live a long and healthy life.
Do you smoke around your pets or know people who do?
This blog post is part of the quarterly campaign for Be the Change for Animals – advocating to make the world a better place for all animals.
Image: János Csongor Kerekes via Flickr