Cats and Cigarettes – A Lethal Combination

Jun 16, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

If you are a smoker, then you have probably been told by many people to stop smoking. Get ready to add two more to the list: your veterinarian and your cat!

Cats that live in smoking households are unwilling victims of second hand smoke. Second hand smoke has long been suspected of causing respiratory disease and lung cancer (and other cancers) in cats. Few studies are available, however, a 2002 study by Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine showed that cats living in smoking households were twice a likely to develop feline lymphoma (a type of cancer).

In addition, in smoking households, smoke particles land and cover exposed surfaces, including the cats. These particles (and more picked up through contact) are swallowed by cats during grooming, causing an increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma, a deadly oral cancer. Basically, you are covering your cat in cancer-causing particles.

Lastly, cats that swallow tobacco products can be poisoned by nicotine. Menthol is especially appealing to some cats, making them very dangerous. One cigarette can contain enough nicotine to be toxic to a 5 lb. cat.

Kicking the habit? Congratulations – you may be saving your life and your cat’s life, but please be careful. All nicotine products are poisonous to cats, so be sure they are out of reach. The toxic level of nicotine for cats is 5 mg (milligrams) of nicotine per pound of body weight.

Nicotine levels in various products include:

  • Nicotine patches – 8 to 114 mg of nicotine.
  • Nicotine gum – 2 to 4 mg per piece.
  • Nicotine inhalers – about 4 mg per puff.
  • Nasal sprays – 80 to 100 mg per bottle (0.5 mg per spray).
  • Cigars – approximately 15 to 40 mg each.
  • Chewing tobacco – 6 to 8 mg of nicotine per gram.
  • Snuff – 12 to 17 mg of nicotine per gram.
  • A cigarette butt can contain 4 – 8 mg since smoking concentrates some of the nicotine in the butt.

So, if you truly love your cat, stop smoking. It is hard, but so important for you and your cat. Need help? Here are some of the many available resources:

Until you quit, please avoid smoking indoors and make sure to keep all Tobacco and nicotine containing products out of your cat’s reach.

Just Quit – Your cat will thank you!


Photo by Tony Stone & Adeline Rapon

Dr Diana Lafer

Dr. Diana Lafer founded Cats Limited in 1995. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Wesleyan University and her veterinary degree from Cornell University. Dr. Lafer has a cat (Sparky), and a dog (Lucy). She enjoys spending time with her daughters, horseback riding, skiing, hiking, participating in triathlons, and volunteering for the Lakeville Pony Club.

Cats Limited Hospital
1260 New Britain Avenue
West Hartford, CT 06110

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