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» LymeNet Flash » Questions and Discussion » Medical Questions » Should sick patients own cats?

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Author Topic: Should sick patients own cats?
JCarlhelp
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I want to ask this question in a very sensitive manner. I know there are people who love their pets. My son has been sick for a long time with ups and downs. His wife and him acquired two cats a few years ago with feline leukemia which subsequent tests showed was cleared. They are not declawed. My daughter who was doing fine with her lyme recently visited, got scratched, had a fever the next day and now all her lyme symptoms are back after 9 months of reasonably good health on herbs only. I am asking a very serious question, not to be sarcastic or one side or another, just wanting opinions.
Posts: 366 | From Kalamazoo, Michigan | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Razzle
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Animals introduce many disease opportunities into the home.

IMHO, people who have Lyme are immunocompromised and therefore should avoid unnecessary contact with disease-causing organisms such as those found in association with pets.

That said, there is the psychological aspect of pet ownership, which has been proven in research to be very positive.

I think the best thing to do is, if one chooses to own a pet, to take as many precautions as possible to eliminate pathogen issues:

Use flea repellants appropriately (don't skimp, cut corners, or go with off brands that may have little effectiveness)

Bathe the pet & wash associated bedding, food & water bowls, litter box, etc., frequently

Always wash hands thoroughly after touching pets, litter box, pet food/water bowls, etc.

Keep the home clean - vacuum, mop floors, etc.

Do not let pets poop or pee anywhere in the house, with the exception of cats, who can be liter-box trained.

Keep up with routine care of the pet - nail clippings, mouth/tooth care, grooming, etc.

Get pet health checked regularly & keep up to date on necessary immunizations, etc. (I know, I'm not a big fan of immunizations as they currently are done, but for pets, this is something I feel is necessary to protect the owner/family/visitors)

De-worm pets routinely (2-4x/year minimum for pets that spend any time outdoors; 1-2x/yr. for indoor-only pets)

Avoid allowing pets to sleep in/on your bed (good way to get parasites from your pet...)

Don't let pets lick you on the face or mouth (good way to get parasites or other diseases)

Do not acquire more pets than you can reasonably care for (no hoarding)

Learn about your pet - care, characteristics, etc., so you know how to recognize signs of illness, and so you can deal with it promptly.

In other words, be a conscientious pet owner.

It's better for the pet, it's better for the owner, and it's better for anyone who comes to visit.

Just my humble opinion...

--------------------
-Razzle
Lyme IgM IGeneX Pos. 18+++, 23-25+, 30++, 31+, 34++, 39 IND, 83-93 IND; IgG IGeneX Neg. 30+, 39 IND; Mayo/CDC Pos. IgM 23+, 39+; IgG Mayo/CDC Neg. band 41+; Bart. (clinical dx; Fry Labs neg. for all coinfections), sx >30 yrs.

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GretaM
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I agree with Razzle.

Personally, I am a pet person, and even though I am very ill, they provide me with a lot of comfort and amusement.

Having said that, animals in the home bring with them a risk of pathogens.

Mine are indoor only cats. They are dewormed every 3 months. The get blood tests done and have a vet visit yearly.

They are vaccinated. Flies and birds sometimes get in the house-and wild birds, as we know, harbour filthy creatures such as fleas and ticks and mites.

I clip their nails every two weeks and they get a dander bath every month.

I use walnut shell cat litter, (walnuts are toxic to helminthes and bacteria). I think Blue Diamond is the brand. Pricey, but lasts WAY longer than wheat or clay litters I've tried.

And they are friendly and have never scratched me.

It is a lot of work to do all this while I am ill, but completely worth it because there is companionship with them. They provide a comfort to me, and on my very bad flare days, will curl up near me and purr, and I find it takes the anxiety out of the flare days by having them there.

Cats can carry bartonella. There is treatment for it. (I use the term treatment, not cure, just because I don't believe anything carried by ticks or fleas is easy to purge).

Basically, if your son is ill, but the cats provide comfort to him, and are a regular part of his day and conversation topic, then perhaps getting rid of them will be more detrimental to his wellbeing than keeping them and taking precautions, like nail clipping and deworming.

That being said, you mentioned your daughter was scratched by these cats? Can she avoid cats, or does she live there etc.

Just my opinion.. a sick lyme person who would be depressed without a furry creature around.

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GretaM
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JCarl-I completely understand your questions. I am sure every person with lyme has asked that question.

"How much more can my system take?" etc.

I know I did.

But having them around is more beneficial to my mental health, than the (now minimized) risk to my physical health.

But that's just me. It's different for everyone [Smile]

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Tammy N.
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One of my docs (Dr. K) is not a fan of ill patients owning cats at all.

Having said that....my husband and I (both with Lyme and cos) have decided to keep our cats. We do not have children....so we have a much closer relationship to our cats than probably the average person. We love our babies and cannot imagine giving them away.

Since we've made the decision to keep them, we take many steps to safeguard our health.

- Every single time we handle them (which is very often), we immediately wash with soap and water.

- They NEVER EVER go into our bedroom.

- We change our clothes before going into bed every night.

- We keep their nails clipped.

- We treat them monthly for parasites (with Revolution). (We actually need to get better with this...watching the calender, etc.)

- We regularly vacuum to sofa and pillows.

What's nice is that we are on the same page and both realize the importance and necessity of taking all these steps. We never complain about it or argue about it, we just do what I've listed above.

It's been working out great. We feel like we've found a healthy balance.

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Stubman1
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They do have fake nails they can put on cats these days...That would remove the risk of scratching.

I could never part with my cats.. I spend a lot of time with them since my walking is very limited and I mostly stay in the house..but that is just me and I am an adult with no kids..

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Keebler
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-
One dangerous habit that pets have: kissing humans on the face and lips. A lot of disease can be transferred that way (as can sharing sleeping space when faces wind up on the same pillow at times.

Any bodily secretion can be bad news, even from their eyes as they sleep amid bed linens or couch pillows and human eyes or mouths also rest on that same fabric.

Other ways that pets can spread disease, too, so for those who really want their special kind of love and fun, training (pets & humans) and vigilance is vital.

Some cats will jump up on countertops and worse: lick the faucet for any water drops. Mostly for play or out of boredom (on both parts, the cat and the human). Then a human comes along for a drink of water and essentially, exchanged cat saliva.

I've seen more than one of my friends take delight in this faucet "fun" and when I mentioned my concern, it was as if I had ordered the cat to its death. Nothing personal, really, but I know where their mouth been and I don't want to kiss their behind.

Litter dust can also be very tricky to the lungs, etc.

I love cats and dogs, truly I do. And I think it's possible to coexist in love and fun but very special training might first be considered for microbial safety. Some posts above have some good ideas along these lines.

Most importantly, keep their saliva out of yours. Pet saliva often carries traces of pet feces so, for as much as we love them, we just need to keep that stuff out of our faces.
-

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beaches
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PM sent.

PS: Stubman1, honestly FAKE nails for cats??? That's a new one! Do they have to go to the salon? Sorry just couldn't resist.

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lax mom
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Funny beaches [Big Grin]

--------------------
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
(aperture)
http://flash.lymenet.org/scripts/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=115161;p=0

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beaches
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Still trying to get that image of a cute tabby sitting in a chair getting her acrylic fill/gel manicure out of my head. Sometimes we just have to laugh, right?

Sorry stubman1. No disrespect meant.

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surprise
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Luckily, we were not pet owners when the realization of Lyme, Bartonella and parasites came into our lives, so, NO,

I am NOT taking on a pet. Part of it, I have 3 kids, and if I have to take full responsibility for one more living entity, with

special foods, Dr. visits, decision to vaccinate, de-worming, fleas, or any more hair to clean up,

I will lose my ever loving mind, lol.

Plus, I sincerely believe I got infected 16 years ago caring for a family of feral cats outside my door (different house, and no memory of a bite, ever.)

I had read that article from Dr. K before- he's no cat lover ;-)

--------------------
Lyme positive PCR blood, and
positive Bartonella henselae Igenex, 2011.
low positive Fry biofilm test, 2012.
Update 7/16- After extensive treatments,
doing okay!

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beaches
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My sentiments exactly surprise.
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Stubman1
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Yes you can get vinyl nail caps or "Soft Claws" for your cat.. They come in assorted colors, even glitter. Once you glue them on they last somewhere between 4-8 weeks.. [Smile]
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beaches
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OMG so my image of tabby at the salon isn't far off. I NEVER would have guessed that cats can get fake nails at all, much less in colors and glitter.

But you'd really have to be a huge "cat person" to do this, right??

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Razzle
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Fake nails for cats = caps that can be put on by the vet to prevent the cat from scratching people (or other pets).

This is a much more humane thing to do than having the cat de-clawed.

Oh, also should add, I think it is a good idea for pet owners to make sure and have their pet spayed or neutered.

--------------------
-Razzle
Lyme IgM IGeneX Pos. 18+++, 23-25+, 30++, 31+, 34++, 39 IND, 83-93 IND; IgG IGeneX Neg. 30+, 39 IND; Mayo/CDC Pos. IgM 23+, 39+; IgG Mayo/CDC Neg. band 41+; Bart. (clinical dx; Fry Labs neg. for all coinfections), sx >30 yrs.

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Judie
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We clip our cats nails regularly (a good vet can show you how).

Also, I have friend who works for the Humane Society and puts soft claws on her cats. It works out great for everyone.

Having been a cat owner before illness and after illness, it hasn't made ANY difference to my physical health. Mentally, my cats have been wonderful companions who have gotten me through the worst of times.

My cats are indoor cats and are much healthier than the outdoor ones roaming around here. They aren't bringing home worms and infections. I had them thoroughly screened before bringing them home.

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nefferdun
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I understand your concern but want to assure you my animals have not made me sick and contribute to my better health mentally and physically.

Dr. S told me my horses could reinfect me with ehrlichia because they often have it and a fly hanging out could bite me. I just don't get bitten by flies. They hurt and I would know it. Besides that, the fly could have bitten a cow or horse someone where else and then bite me. Actually it is much more likely the fly will bite my defenseless horse instead of me, so if I am out on a trail it is good to be on a horse so they are the target of all the evil bugs!

I always wash my hands after being with the horses because they will lay in piles of old manure and I don't want to get parasites from them.

I also have 3 cats that are indoor/outdoor and two dogs. I don't take any special precautions with any of these animals although my husband cleans the litter box these days due to the possibility of contracting toxoplasmosis.

I don't believe it is necessary to worm cats frequently unless they go outdoors and hunt mice. Then they always pick ups something - usually tapeworms. My cats don't scratch or bite. The puppy bites because he is a puppy but he did not make me sick.

After all the talk about worms on this board, I never saw one coming from me even though I took a lot of ivermectin for PR. After spending a lifetime with animals, my immune system probably worked well for me in that regard.

The pets offer a lot of support, comfort, humor and a reason to get up and do things. I am doing well now but even when I was really sick I would ride my horse, feed and when I could, muck the barn. I think I would have been a lot sicker if I could just never get out of the house or off the bed.

Once on a trail ride I had a dizziness attack so severe I didn't know if I could get the three miles back to the trailer. If I opened my eyes I got nauseated. My friend led the way on her horse. My horse followed her with me on his back, my eyes closed the whole time. Animals can be very protective which is something you appreciate when you are so sick.

I had two cats during the worst part of the disease that have since died. I still miss them. When I was in bed unable to move, those cats snuggled in with me and took better care of me than any human. I have such a connection with animals that I can't live without them.

--------------------
old joke: idiopathic means the patient is pathological and the the doctor is an idiot

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treeinatree
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Everyone has made good points, but Carl - how is your daughter? Is she able to face the possibility that she was re-exposed to a coinfection or introduced to a new infection? Does she have support to treat the return of symptoms?
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Sammi
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Did your daughter see a doctor? She could have gotten an infection from the scratch. If so, it may respond quickly to specific treatment.

I agree with the posters who have pets and who take appropriate precautions. I think the love and companionship they provide is beneficial on so many levels especially for people who are sick.

I hope your daughter feels better soon.

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JCarlhelp
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My daughter is under Dr.H care and he has instructed her if her symptoms re-appear to let him know. She is waiting a week to see if it is temporary. She has a couple of issues though, one epilepsy (On lamictal which reacts with Bart drugs) and she stopped taking antibiotics due to C-diff but was doing excellent on herbs. It just is very frustrating to have 5 people in the family and have (2) doing pretty good and then my daughter crash after getting scratched be a couple different cats. Maybe I am paranoid but I feel there is some correlation. She will call Dr.H next week if she is not feeling better. She is on lymph drainage drops that have worked well and HH now which I believe fights bartonella. In full disclosure my family first got lyme disease the year they picked up a stray cat that was covered with ticks and had a family project of picking them off. Hence my frustation.
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Sammi
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I absolutely understand your frustration. I am glad your daughter is a patient of Dr. H. and that he knows what happened. I am sure he will know what to do.

I am very sorry your family got sick from ticks that were on a cat you helped.

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Catgirl
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It's a personal decision. It's also tick season and possible she got bit again. The nymphs are the size of the period at the end of this sentence. They bite too, but are much more difficult to see.

We've had cats for many years. My husband and I have never had a single bart symptom until I got bit by a tick a few years ago. Hubby, still zero. My lyme and co infections came from ticks (gardening).

We let our cats sleep with us (I can feel you all cringing right now (lol!). Hubby is pretty healthy, and we also treat ourselves for parasites. So I guess you can tell that there is absolutely now way we would get rid of our cats. We came to that conclusion after I got bit a couple of times. I brought the ticks in from gardening out in our yard. Life is just too short to live without animals.

Since every animal, rodent, bird or human can carry them, we decided we weren't going to live in fear. We even get mice that somehow find a way to get in during the winter. Our cats are in door only, have all their claws (and we are bad about clipping them), and we check ourselves when we go out in the yard. We keep their littler boxes clean, and vacuum frequently. Just don't let your child kiss them because cats, well, you know. Dogs too (lol)!

My bart flares the week before and during almost every full moon. I hope your daughter feels better soon.

--------------------
--Keep an open mind about everything. Also, remember to visit ACTIVISM (we can change things together).

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RZR
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I could never part with my 14-year-old girl. I have no children, and she is my baby. She has been right there by my side. It's like she knows when I am at my sickest. She will curl up near me and give me unconditional love when I need it most.

My LLMD and her children have lyme. Guess what....she has an indoor cat!

--------------------
Tick bite May 2009
Diagnosed June 2009

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