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Thursday, 1 August, 2002, 10:59 GMT 11:59 UK
Passive smoking puts pets at risk
Cats may be more at risk of cancer than other pets
People who smoke at home could be putting their pets at risk of cancer.

A study carried out by vets in the United States has linked passive smoking to cancer in cats.

Feline lymphoma kills three out of four cats within a year of being diagnosed.


People who smoke should think about the risks to their cats

RSPCA spokeswoman
The vets hope their findings, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, will encourage more people to give up smoking.

Dr Antony Moore and colleagues at Tufts University in Massachusetts studied 180 cats treated at a Tufts veterinary hospital between 1993 and 2000.

High cancer risk

They found that, adjusting for age and other factors, cats exposed to second-hand smoke were twice as likely to develop the disease.

However, if they were exposed to passive smoking for five years or more that risk tripled.

If two people living in the house smoke, the cats were four times more likely to contract the cancer.

There are no figures on how many cats in the UK get feline lymphoma.

Dr Moore said the findings raise questions about the risks to children of developing lymphoma if their parents smoke.

He added that he hoped the study would encourage more people to give up smoking.

"I think there are a lot of people who might not quit smoking for themselves or their family," he said. "But they might for their cats."

Dr Moore and colleagues are planning to carry out a similar study on dogs. However, they believe that cats may be most at risk of the developing lymphoma from second hand smoke.

"They accumulate a lot on their fur," he said. "In a veterinary clinic if a cat comes in, you can tell if it's in a smoking household because it smells of smoke."

This compares with dogs which tend to be washed more often and go outside more frequently.

The RSPCA described the study as interesting and said the findings will be used to decide if the criteria it uses to decide who should be allowed to adopt cats from its shelters should change.

A spokeswoman told BBC News Online: "At the moment, we do not question prospective owners on whether they smoke but once we've evaluated the evidence from this new report we may change that."

She added: "We think people who smoke should think about the risks to their cats in the same way as they would think about the risks of passive smoking to children."

See also:

27 Mar 01 | Health
11 Jan 02 | Health
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