Get started

Customized by You

Design your pet’s plan in less than 60 seconds.

(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
Woman reading and smoking with cat on lap

Secondhand smoke causes cancer in pets

Q: We lost our cat to throat cancer. Both my husband and I smoke. Could our secondhand smoke have caused her cancer?

A: Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Secondhand smoke quadruples the risk of two kinds of cancers in cats: oral squamous cell carcinoma and lymphoma, also called lymphosarcoma.

Cats are particularly sensitive to the toxins in secondhand smoke because they inhale – and ingest – them.

No, they don’t chew their humans’ cigarettes. Instead, the smoke particles settle on the furniture and carpet where the cats lie. When they groom ourselves, they ingest the toxins on their fur.

Oral squamous cell carcinoma is common in cats living with people who smoke only one to 19 cigarettes per day. This cancer forms on the gums, under the tongue or in the back of the throat. Treatment usually is unsuccessful; fewer than 10 percent of affected cats are alive one year after diagnosis.

The other cancer that frequently occurs in cats that live with smokers is lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. The most common location is the gastrointestinal tract.

I send my condolences to you and your husband.

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at

Q: I am pregnant for...

In 1961 Congress designated the third...

Q: John is a friend...

More From Figo Blog

Sometimes, we think of cats as needing less...

As pet lovers, we don’t like to think about...

Deep down, most people want to visit Las...

Nervous Husky looking out a window at thunderstorm

Thunderstorm season is approaching; and while...

Plenty of sun and shopping in dog friendly Tucson, Arizona

If you’re a sun-lover, plan a trip to Tucson,...

German Shepard running in the snow

Winter’s frigid temperatures and short days...

Q: Noodle, my 8-year-old...

Grumpy-faced bulldog

Shrimp. Vertically-challenged. Dwarf. They’ve...