Secondhand smoke is hazardous to your pets, especially cats. This amusing anti-smoking commercial ran during the Grammys broadcast, with a warning about the dire prospect of a “catmageddon” caused by smoking humans. Life With Cats spread the word on this (actually) serious topic here recently.
Researchers at the University of Glasgow say that most pet owners don’t think about the health effects of smoking on animals, but they should. “Exposure to smoke in the home is having a direct impact on pets,” said Clare Knottenbelt, a professor of Small Animal Medicine and Oncology. These include weight gain, cell damage and increased risk of certain cancers. “Our current study in cats shows that cats are even more affected” than dogs, said Knottenbelt. “This may be due to the extensive self-grooming that cats do, as this would increase the amount of smoke taken in to the body.” Other studies have shown that cats in smoking homes are three times more likely to develop malignant lymphoma.
National Public Radio (NPR) took notice and ran a feature story on the advertising campaign and interviewed Sherry Emery, the director of the University of Illinois, Chicago’s Health Media Collaboratory. “It’s nothing like any anti-smoking ad that’s been out,” Emery told NPR. “This is the first time I think [anti-smoking campaigns] have gone after the health effects for animals. And people care so much about their animals.”
The organization behind the commercial is Truth Initiative, said Emery. “Sometimes people don’t care enough about themselves. They do care about their pets,” she said, “and cat videos, of course. They capitalize on this cultural phenomenon where people just love cat videos.”