E-Cigarettes Are Toxic to Cats

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We’ve previously covered the dangers of secondhand smoke for cats: cats living with smokers are twice as likely to develop malignant lymphoma than those in non-smoking households. Cats with five or more years of exposure to tobacco smoke were at more than three times greater risk of developing lymphoma. Studies also suggest a link between oral cancer in cats and exposure to tobacco smoke. Some smokers are now using electronic, or e-cigarettes, and it turns out that the vapor from these devices is highly toxic to cats as well, and can even be fatal.

E-cigarettes feature a cartridge that holds nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals, a vaporizer. and a battery. The vapor is inhaled and then exhaled, just like a regular cigarette. E-cigarette use is also known as vaping.

E-cigarette risks for pets

Vaping puts cats (and dogs) at a dual risk: from nicotine, and from the chemicals in the cartridges. E-cigarettes contain a number of harmful chemicals, toxic metals and carcinogenic particles. A common ingredient in e-cigarettes, propylene glycol, can lead to red blood cell damage in cats known as “Heinz body.” Another common ingredient, diethylene glycol, may cause acidosis and kidney damage.

E-cigarettes also post additional risks from the liquid flavor cartridges. While this may be more of an issue with dogs than cats, some pets are attracted to the flavors. The cartridges contain high amounts of nicotine – one typical cartridge may contain as much nicotine as three regular cigarettes. Ingestion of nicotine is a medical emergency at any time, but immediate treatment is particularly important if your pet ingested an e-cigarette cartridge, since the nictoine will be absorbed much faster through the mucous membranes.

Additionally, cats living with someone who vapes are exposed to the second-hand aerosols from the vapor that is exhaled into the air. These particles may also settle into household dust. As cats come in contact with the particles, they will ingest them via grooming themselves.

The long-term effects of such exposures in pets are currently unknown. However, given what we do know, I think it’s safe to say that vaping is an unhealthy practice for both humans and cats.

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18 Comments on E-Cigarettes Are Toxic to Cats

  1. Joanne
    October 30, 2016 at 10:43 am (5 months ago)

    I had visitors staying with me for a few days, reformed cigarette smokers who now vape. They assured me, “It’s just steam that’s exhaled, so it’s no problem to vape indoors”. My cat demonstrated otherwise, and was sneezing and wheezing non-stop. I too felt my throat was irritated. As soon as my guests left, I vacuumed thoroughly and my cat and I are now back to normal.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      October 30, 2016 at 4:21 pm (5 months ago)

      You’re a more gracious hostess than I would have been, Joanne!

      Reply
  2. Shaun
    October 22, 2016 at 3:24 pm (5 months ago)

    I have been a smoker for the last 20 years and smoke in my home. I decided to quit smoking and start vaping in my home instead thinking it would be better not only for my health but for my little buddy (cat) Rocky’s health also.

    Needless to say a few days after I started vaping, Rocky threw up 13 times in one hour! It was a foamy white, liquid type of vomit. I freaked out and thought the worst bc of what I had went through with my previous cat who I found outside and only had for 9 months before he passed away from lung cancer (not from smoking or bc of me). I brought Rocky to the vet where he was given fluids and he was back to being himself shortly thereafter.

    I started smoking cigarettes again and eventually decided to quit and go back to vaping. Not an hour later Rocky began to make awful, scary noises almost like he was choking but he ended up throwing up white foam again…

    I believe 100% that the “clouds” left over from vaping are extremely toxic to pets. I am in no way against vaping whatsoever as I believe its more beneficial than smoking cigarettes but if you truly care about your pets health then PLEASE vape outside or out of a window so our furry kids can live full happy and healthy lives with us! There is nothing more heartbreaking than losing a pet. When you don’t have any kids, our pets become our kids. Take it from me, nobody wants to end up broke (from vet care and surgery) or heartbroken (when nothing can be done and its time to go to sleep) bc of something we could have controlled.

    Rocky has an appointment to see the vet on 11/7 and I’m petrified they may find something wrong with him bc of my 3.5 years of smoking around him in my home. I cannot afford, nor do I ever want to go through what I went through w my previous cat.

    One last note, I found a lot of articles online about PG being toxic to pets so I asked that my juices only contained VG. Bottom line, both PG and VG are toxic and dangerous to cats.

    Reply
  3. Nancy
    July 19, 2016 at 10:02 am (8 months ago)

    Thank you so much for posting this! On Friday morning my elderly, FIV+ cat with chronic pancreatitis was blinking repeatedly. At first I thought he was sending me kisses, but I soon realized that his eyes were a little red and irritated, so I gave him some Gentamycin drops. Usually they will show a dramatic improvement right away, but they didn’t – so I scooped him up and dropped him off at the vet before I went to work. The vet who is not his usual examined him and found nothing wrong, and I authorized them to draw blood. But when I arrived to pick him up his usual vet was there, and the technician who watches him when I go on vacation – both said he just didn’t look himself – the tech said “his eyes, his ears, his face – it’s just not normal!” So the bloodwork showed that his pancreatitis number had gone up by just over a point; otherwise everything was normal. THEN I read this article yesterday – well, recently I’ve stated vaping in my bedroom at night – the bedroom where he stays with his companion kitty, because seeing all of the other animals in the rest of the house irritates him greatly. I think that may be the problem – and I talked it over with my vet’s office manager when she called with the results – and she said yes, with all of his issues it wouldn’t take much to affect him.

    So thank you, thank you, thank you for this article! You may have made a big difference in Winston’s life!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 19, 2016 at 3:16 pm (8 months ago)

      I’m so glad the article came at the right time, Nancy. All my best to your boy!

      Reply
  4. Roy
    July 19, 2016 at 3:48 am (8 months ago)

    What a poorly researched and scaremongering article.
    Firstly, about pg and second hand aerosols: https://www.e-cigarette-forum.com/forum/threads/on-vaping-pg-and-the-welfare-of-your-cats.413963/
    Secondly, ecigs do not contain diethylene glycol.
    Thirdly, I don’t know what you mean by ‘cartridges’ – I suspect you don’t either. Assuming you mean sealed bottles of eliquid, your point becomes irrelevant unless you’re leaving them open, dripping it directly into your cats food, rubbing it in their eyes etc.
    Use some responsibility and common sense and your pets will be fine

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 19, 2016 at 5:39 am (8 months ago)

      I appreciate your feedback, Roy, but I respectfully disagree with your point of view, especially considering that your information comes from a website that promotes vaping.

      Reply
      • Brad
        July 20, 2016 at 4:49 pm (8 months ago)

        Here’s the thing Ingrid… whether it’s from a forum that promotes vaping or not… it raises some valid points.. such as… PG is in a lot of things, Febreeze (which nearly KILLED my cats), Perfumes, some pet foods (if you don’t believe me, look at the labels some time.) among other things. The levels that would be harmful to an animal are very minute when vaping. The animal would have to ingest quite a bit of the e-juice before it had the effects that your article are claiming.

        Speaking of your article, where are your sources? So, most people these days believe what they read because its on the internet, so it must be true right? I want to read actual reports and case studies that have been done to support your article.

        Reply
        • Ingrid
          July 20, 2016 at 5:30 pm (8 months ago)

          I agree that PG is in “a lot of things,” Brad, and I recommend keeping all of these things away from cats.

          Reply
  5. Sweet Purrfections
    July 18, 2016 at 10:07 pm (8 months ago)

    I’m hearing more and more about the dangers of second hand smoke from the e-cigarettes.

    Reply
  6. Nancy Faulkner
    July 18, 2016 at 10:42 am (8 months ago)

    First of all…. why would anyone smoke? Second… if you love your cat/dog, why would you slowly kill them?

    Be it e-cigs, or any cigs, why…….?

    Reply
  7. CarolMcK
    July 18, 2016 at 8:11 am (8 months ago)

    I lost my last cat to lung cancer. I watched my mom fight a long, hard battle with COPD, so there was no possibility of me sokong, ever. I’m wondering if he was exposed to second hand smoke in the 1-2 years before I rescued him. Only had Archie for 12 years. Best. Cat. Ever.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 19, 2016 at 5:40 am (8 months ago)

      I’m sorry about Archie, Carol.

      Reply
  8. Janine
    July 18, 2016 at 7:29 am (8 months ago)

    I never thought these were safer than cigarettes. But I had no idea how much more dangerous they are. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  9. Sue Brandes
    July 18, 2016 at 7:08 am (8 months ago)

    Shared your post. I didn’t think these were safe.

    Reply
  10. Cindy B
    July 18, 2016 at 5:37 am (8 months ago)

    I’ve never felt that these were a “safe” alternative to humans let alone animals. Thanks for the great information.

    Reply
  11. Raine
    July 18, 2016 at 1:13 am (8 months ago)

    Wow, that’s something I would have thought was fairly safe-at least compared to cigarettes. I never thought of the grooming risks or particles being enough to cause serious harm. I had heard how dangerous the liquid was, especially for dogs. I’m glad there is already information on a fairly new habit. Shared everywhere -thank you!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 19, 2016 at 5:45 am (8 months ago)

      Thank you for sharing, Raine.

      Reply

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