Currently there is a lot of talk on the Internet and in newspapers about air pollution caused by road traffic, particularly diesels. I am referring to nitrogen dioxide and carbon dioxide emissions together with very fine particles called particulates. There are estimates that 40,000 people die annually because of air pollution in the UK.
It is further estimated that every school child in every school in London inhales what is effectively toxic air above (and sometimes well above) the threshold at which it is considered safe. This includes 4,000 primary school children. Young children are particularly vulnerable because polluted air damages the lungs and the fine carbon particles can enter the brain.
There’s also a high-profile case of a young girl who acquired fatal asthma through, it is claimed, being at a school near busy roads. There’s lots of pressure on the government to speed up the phasing out of diesel engined cars in the UK. It is claimed that they are dragging their feet and simply not doing enough, nor quickly enough.
I’ll get to my point which is that in London there are over half a million domestic cats. There might be a similar number of stray and feral cats. Let’s make it a round figure of around 1 million cats living in the metropolitan area of greater London. They are all inhaling polluted air. If we say that people are inhaling polluted air then we must say the same thing about our companion cats.
It is time, to think of our companion animals as well. The causes of some of the diseases that they acquire are unknown. I would like to suggest that one of the potential causes is air pollution in London and in other metropolitan urban areas. We don’t have the statistics for the prevalence of certain conditions such as feline asthma in urban areas. Perhaps if we did we might find out that it is not only people who are suffering from air pollution but our cats also.