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Treatment and Pets....

fishmanpa's picture
Posts: 1217
Joined: Jan 2013

When Marcia and I went to the chemo class, one of the things brought up was pets. With a cat, they said we could interact, play, pet, cuddle etc., no problem. They also said not to allow them to sleep in the bed with us. Socrates sleeps with Marcia and occasionally will sleep at my feet. 

As I sit here typing with the boy all curled up on my legs, purring and extremely happy we're here for the weekend, I'm feeling guilty having to close the bedroom door and keep him out when we sleep (well.. YOU stand there and look at that pitiful face when I'm closing the door!).

I've looked a bit around on the web and haven't found anything that substanciates keeping them off the bed. If we can play, cuddle etc with them, then why kick them out at night?  I know the obvious issues with litter and such.... but but but but :(  Marcia is changing that and doing the raw meat feedings (he eats a raw chicken diet with an open supply of high protein kitten food).  Anyone have some info?



jcortney's picture
Posts: 503
Joined: Sep 2012

Can't imagine why you could be exposed all day but not when sleeping.  My dog Sophie sleeps at the foot of the bed and did so every night of my treatment.  During the day when I felt like Krap she would sleep in my lap, made me feel better.  Sounds like you are making it though ok, sorry to hear you had thrush.  Horrible condition.  I had it only twice but it just might have been the worst two weeks during treatment.

Looking forward to hearing what difference sleeping makes?



phrannie51's picture
Posts: 4674
Joined: Mar 2012

treatment, not one mentioned anything about my pets.....so I haven't a clue what they're worried about.  It is weird that you can do everything with them you've always done, just not sleep with them....


VivianLee5689's picture
Posts: 546
Joined: Aug 2012

We weren't told that, but we were told to try to keep them from scratching David.  It was very important he not bleed with low platelets and low immunity to infection.

CivilMatt's picture
Posts: 4336
Joined: May 2012



I asked Justine (the wonder cat) and she said there is fear of transfer of bacteria or parasites when cleaning a litter box.  So, unless you wear gloves and wash real well you should not clean any litter box.


Now (not) sleeping with you, how silly is that.



fishmanpa's picture
Posts: 1217
Joined: Jan 2013

This comes from the JH Patient Guide, there are a few pages of "Care for the Immunocompromised Patient". It's the only thing I have that says anything like this. The rest is on the word of the oncology nurse and resident that taught the class. "T"

Q: Can I still take care of my pets? 

A: If you have a cat or dog, try to spend little time in contact with it and wash your hands immediately afterward.

A: You should not have any contact with birds, fish, rodents, reptiles or farm animals. 

A: If you pet develops diarrhea, remove it from your living area until a veterinarian has seen it.

A You may not clean up pet urine or feces, including litter boxes, bird cages or aquariums.

A: Avoid exposure to any cat which has not been declawed.

MORE: I did find a few pages that stated similar things. None of which suggested that your pets shouldn't sleep with you. Marcia and I have decided to allow him to do what he wants to do.  We were fortunate to find a friend of a friend who house/cat sits 4 days a week so he's certainly not starved for attention but still, it's traumatic enough we're gone all week and he has someone else here watching him. Poor boy has to be confused :( 

After a game of fetch this afternoon, he laid with me, got pets and was just an absolute sweetheart. I came to the conclusion that the joy he brings to me is far more beneficial than the slim risk of an infection IMO. If precautions are taken, it appears the risk is low. What I've read since indicates those with higher immune risk cancers are at more risk (bone, blood etc). 

Posts: 33
Joined: Mar 2013

Hell all !

I Googled 'why dogs and cats should not sleep with you' and was surprised by the results.


Here is part of an article from the Animal Planet website.

In it chemo is specifically mentioned.

I would have thought since you were around your pet all day long what the heck does a few more hours make. ????

Can You Get Sick from Sleeping with Your Small Dog?

The list of diseases that could be transmitted by your otherwise lovely little dog can be quite shocking. According to a study published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, the risks to your health include everything from internal parasites to the bubonic plague. Yes, that bubonic plague, as well as more common (but no less scary) maladies such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or meningitis.

If your dog plays with, steps in or eats feces (her own or other animals'), she could transmit dog-to-human bacteria or parasites, like salmonella or heartworms. Naturally, you wouldn't want your little buddy to have fleas or ticks, either, but especially not if you're sharing your sheets. Remember what we said about the bubonic plague? Fleas can infect humans with it, and ticks carry Lyme disease. So make sure your dog is protected against such creepy critters and vaccinated against rabies and other diseases. In short, take advantage of the routine preventive care offered by your veterinarian and you should be fine.

By employing regular doses of preventive care and common sense, you can enjoy a midnight cuddle with your small dog even if you have allergies. If asthma or related issues crop up when you get too cozy with your dog, try employing an air filter to absorb allergens and washing your sheets more often. Or you could request allergy shots from your doctor to help build your tolerance to all that dander.

If, however, you have a more serious health condition that compromises your immune system, such as being HIV positive or undergoing chemotherapeutic treatments, it's not a good idea to sleep with your dog. Weakened defenses might have trouble handling the strain, and your pet wouldn't want you to risk serious illness on her behalf.

If sleeping with your dog simply isn't right for you, placing a comfy dog bed near your own may help you both sleep better and awake more refreshed. Under the right conditions, spending time with an animal offers many benefits. The dog/human bond acts as a buffer from stress, helps us develop socially and even encourages more active lifestyles. Plus, there's just no substitute for a wagging tail -- especially when it's the first sight to greet you in the morning.


I hope that you and all reading this are doing well !!!






Duggie88's picture
Posts: 703
Joined: Feb 2010

I was glad to see your post but have nothing to add as to the health factor in having pets around. I don't believe they even asked me anything about having pets otherwise my Playboy Bunny of a wife may have had to leave not to mention my penthouse pet. Socrates knows something is going on and I see it as a mutual agreed upon unspoken pact where you both need each other while observing certain precautions to get the three of you through this. I had a golden retriever we had to put down a few days after I completed radiation because it was his time. It broke my heart but Kate said he hung on to make sure I made it through the radiation. All part of the therapy my friend.


Keep moving forward...............Enjoy the rest of your weekend


MarineE5's picture
Posts: 910
Joined: Dec 2005


We all want to get back to our normal routines as fast as we can. Doing what is normal now, helps us remember where we want to be in the near future.

My wife and I both had cats during our health issues, they have passed since then, but there is nothing like the "Cat/ Pet Factor" to calm us down. They get so content, it has a calming affect on us and for a brief time we are relaxed and rest, which is what we really need.

Do what makes YOU happy....

My Best to Both of You and Everyone Here

Ingrid K's picture
Ingrid K
Posts: 813
Joined: Mar 2011

I say since there are so many things you may have to do without for a while during treatment and recovery....let the cat do what he wants.  You will benefit from his calmness....they say pets are good for keeping blood pressure down and many other things so I say let Socrates sleep wherever he wants....and it will most likely be on your lap during the day and on your feet at night.

Our golden was (and still is) my best bud during my recovery.


Skiffin16's picture
Posts: 8286
Joined: Sep 2009

Ask me that is, LOL....


I might be a tad bias...

My labs were/are best cargivers ever.... Me above with chemo hair and swollen out from chemo..., ummm OK chemo no hair..

The only thing I ever heard concerning pets, and especially cats. Concerned 5FU, apparently it has an odor they like... They tend to chew the tube from the pump, and it can be toxic...

LOL, as if I didn't already know the stuff stinks like a cat urine spray pole, or at least made me smell like some medicne bag when I soaks in the tub during using it... per my wife..., but I thought of cat urine... Aand the stuff will come close to killin you....


Jan Trinks's picture
Jan Trinks
Posts: 477
Joined: Apr 2009

We were never told anything about our pets either.  Now, ours are dogs and not cats and I know they say there are certain things to watch out with cats like litter box, and such.  But they are such a big part of your life and a comfort to you during treatment.  And they do know something is going on and will want to be with you.  One of our shelties and our dachshund always slept with us and Charlie did not suffer any ill effects.  I guess it just depends on the docs.  Charlie did have the 5FU bag and Sammy (the dachshund) who sleeps under the covers at the end of the bed did like to cuddle up with Charlie next to that unit but fortunately he never chewed at it.  But I would hate to think you couldn't be around them which apparently they didn't tell you that and I believe they do have some healing power!  Just be careful and good luck.


Jan (Basketcase)

Roar's picture
Posts: 265
Joined: Mar 2013

Three dogs and a parrot here- I was super careful not to get bit by the bird as he likes to nip every once in a while just to keep you honest and all my dogs love to fetch and rough house- so I had to be careful not to get cut or scratched or anything that would leave me exposed for an infection - the leader of the pack will sneak into our bed once in a while but not every night - and yes , my dogs were and are a big part of my recovery even though the bird talks a good game so just watch the cats claws

rachel12yrsuv's picture
Posts: 435
Joined: Feb 2013


When I was treated I had 2 cats, since deceased, but I was told under no circumstances could I be in contact with them. One I had for a few years at the time and the other was a small kitten and it killed me, for the same reason, I just wanted to cuddle with them to make me feel better! Instead I took them to my sisters until my treatments were done, I did however go and play with them once a week, it killed me. So it seems that they have loosened that worry by allowing you to play with them just not sleep. The cat sleeps at your feet, I can't see what harm that would do. But of course I am not a doc. But I support you and Marcias decision.

God Bless buddy,


Tim6003's picture
Posts: 1511
Joined: Nov 2011

You will have to make that call....but I have five kids ages 1 1/2 years to 13 years during my treatments over 15 months ago ....and no one told me to be sure and keep the kids away, and with four of those five being BOYS, you can only imagine all the germs in my house :)  :) :)

Oh, btw....I also had and still have my dog and my cat (of 14 years) and "Saturn" the cat certainly slept in the bed on my wife's side every night! 



donfoo's picture
Posts: 1649
Joined: Dec 2012

Pets and flush twice are on the same list to me. Conservative cautions that for all practical purposes are quite low probability sources of infections and side effects. Enjoy yuour pet and conserve water. lol

fishmanpa's picture
Posts: 1217
Joined: Jan 2013

Hey Foo and Tim,

We decided that with less than a week and half of treatment left and one weekend home with the boy before we're home, things will be business as usual. If the boy wants to sleep with Mommy (as he always does), they he will do so.  He was with us last weekend and I'm fine. I already dealt with flush and they've put me on a more universal anti-fungal (systmatic) medicine that is doing the trick. 

It's definitely beneficial in many aspects and besides, the cat is the only thing giving me exercise these days! ~lol~  He plays ball like a dog,... throw a tin foil ball and he chases it down, bats it all around, plays a little fetch etc. I get a major hoot playig with him!


Skiffin16's picture
Posts: 8286
Joined: Sep 2009

I would like to say that the benifits enjoyed from our pets, outweigh the risk....

Hell, you are probably more at risk going out in the general public, and certainly at the health facility you end up sitting at while waiting your turn to see the MD's.


debbiejeanne's picture
Posts: 3095
Joined: Jan 2010

i agree with john the public is a bigger risk.  i say enjoy the cat and be glad u have him.

God bless,


George_Baltimore's picture
Posts: 303
Joined: Jun 2009

didn't you know that cats steal your breath at night when you sleep? (tongue in cheek)

MICH4EL's picture
Posts: 73
Joined: Mar 2013

I've heard that people with pets are happier and live longer.  I've also heard from people  on this discussion Board that positive mental attitude is the most important factor in cancer treatment.  Germs are everywhere....I think the postiive benefits of a pet offset any minimal risk of an infection from them as opposed to from any of the millions of other sources of infection. 

The issue of breath stealing is another questions entirely.  Has anyone found any randomized, scientific, peer-reviewed articles on mortality and morbidity rates caused by cats stealing the breaths of their owners?  I think this is something we should investigate further and perhaps create a discussion board for survivors of cat-breath-stealing.  Until this is fully researched, I will continue to be a dog person rather than a cat person.



NJShore's picture
Posts: 423
Joined: Nov 2012


You so cracked me up.. beware...


George_Baltimore's picture
Posts: 303
Joined: Jun 2009

Ya know where ya stand with a dog.

JacquieinFrance's picture
Posts: 14
Joined: Apr 2013

My dog has been my early warning system since I took ill. Whenever I'm in for a "bad time" he suddenly becomes super-glue. He won't leave me alone for a second and if I sit or lie down he sits on me, not beside me, on me. I know then that something's going to happen in the next 12-24 hours (generally a bad period of nausia or extreme weakness).

As long as your pet's in good health and you keep it clean (don't need to go overboard with the bathing though!) the only problems could be scratches or bites. Anyway the good you get from your pet outweighs the rest.

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