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Vaping Around Cats: Vet-Reviewed Safety and Concerns

Brooke Bundy

By Brooke Bundy

Woman vaping indoors

Vet approved

Dr. Chyrle Bonk Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Chyrle Bonk

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Originally marketed as a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes, many studies are now putting vapes in a different light. While the controversy about their safety in humans still continues, the verdict is certainly unanimous when it comes to cats and dogs. Two main components of most e-cigarettes, nicotine and propylene glycol, are highly toxic to pets—especially cats. No part of a vape is safe to use around cats, from the chance of them inhaling secondhand huffs to the risk of a curious kitty chewing and ingesting its contents. If you like to vape, make sure you only do so outside of your cat’s area, such as on the porch, and securely throw out old cartridges in an exterior trash can when you’re done.

Why Vaping Around Cats Isn’t Safe

Virtually every part of a vape spells disaster for small pets. Here is a breakdown of exactly why e-cigarettes aren’t safe for cats:

1. Nicotine

Nicotine, the chemical responsible for tobacco addiction in cigarette use, is also present in most vapes. In humans, nicotine produces an adrenaline high, with physiological responses like elevated blood pressure and heart rate. Since cats have much smaller bodies, these effects can be magnified and very dangerous. Nicotine doesn’t just affect your cat’s cardiovascular and respiratory system, but also wreaks havoc on their gastrointestinal system and neurological functions. Basically, it can damage their entire body.

Man holding vape in one hand cigarettes in the other
Image Credit: Andrey_Popov, Shutterstock
Nicotine poisoning in cats manifests in signs like:
  • Shaking
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Weakness
  • Seizures

In severe cases, nicotine poisoning can actually result in death. If you suspect your cat has ingested any nicotine products, you should call your vet immediately.

There haven’t been a lot of studies on how much secondhand vapors it takes to affect cats. However, with a cat’s sensitive respiratory system it’s considered dangerous to diffuse certain holistic essential oils around them, so it’s safe to assume that small amounts of secondhand vapors also have the potential to cause significant harm.


2. Propylene Glycol  

Every year cats die from mistakenly drinking antifreeze. It’s odorless and tastes sweet, and even though cats can’t really taste sweetness, they may still be attracted to lapping it up under cars, but it’s highly toxic to them. Antifreeze is either made from ethylene glycol or propylene glycol depending on the formula. Propylene glycol is also found in some vape juices, and while it is less toxic than the ethylene variety, it’s still not good news for your cat’s fragile system. The bottom line is that propylene glycol is still considered toxic—and it’s a critical component of some vapes.

Signs of propylene glycol poisoning in cats include:
  • Incoordination
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shaking
  • Lethargy

Call your vet if you suspect your cat has ingested vape juice (or antifreeze). You should know that some human foods also use propylene glycol as a preservative, so be sure to check the ingredients list before slipping your cat a snack.

a cat that feels sick and seems to vomit
Image Credit: chie hidaka, Shutterstock

3. Chemicals and Additives

Even if something is labeled as “food safe” for humans, that doesn’t mean that won’t cause harm to felines. Cats have delicate bodies that don’t tolerate some chemicals that are generally okay to use around humans, including many air fresheners and cleaning products. Since there are many possible additives that make up the flavorings in vape juice, it’s safe to assume that many, if not most, may cause serious problems in cats.


4. Batteries and Cartridges

The acid and plastic from vape batteries and cartridges are also dangerous for your cat to chew on or ingest. Battery acid can burn your pet’s stomach and the cartridges can cause GI blockages.

How to Prevent Accidental Poisoning

Never vape around your cat to prevent them from inhaling vapors. Keep cartridges and batteries away from curious cats and throw empty cartridges away securely in an outdoor trash can with a lid.

If your cat accidentally ingests vape juice, call your vet or the Pet Poison Hotline immediately at 1-800-213-6680. If your cat starts showing any unusual behaviors after you’ve vaped around them (or any other time), make sure to reach out to your vet for advice.

Woman refusing vape from a man
Image Credit: Yta23, Shutterstock

Conclusion

Unfortunately, all types of vapes and cigarettes can be harmful for pets. Cats are susceptible to toxicities from the nicotine, propylene glycol and other chemicals found in vapes, and inhalation or ingestion can lead to severe consequences. If you suspect your cat has ingested any part of a vape, call your vet or the Pet Poison Hotline immediately.


Featured Image Credit: Aleksandr Yu, Shutterstock

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