View Full Version : Lupus and pets

10-30-2006, 10:28 AM
Seeing Kathleen's picture of her very cute kitty and Val's post about breathing problems made me think about this. I love my animals dearly and wouldn't give them up for any reason, but lupus patients, especially ones on immunosuppressants, need to take some precautions around our pets - and I'm willing to bet very few doctors ever mention it because they just don't think about it. So I'd like to know what, if anything, your doctors have told you about pet safety, or even food safety? :?:

10-30-2006, 10:41 AM
Hi Marycain,
I love my cat very much. I am on immunosuppresents and my doctor just basically told me to be careful around the cat's litterbox due to Toxoplasmosis. I throughly wash my hands right after cleaning out her box. I also keep her shots up to date and I do not let her out of the house at all. I had her declawed on the front paws so she can not scratch me. She is very gentle. I also had her spayed. If you are careful you can have animals. You just have to be careful around the litterbox. My kitty is a real sweetheart. Hugs, Kathleen :)

I want to put another picture of her in here.http://i119.photobucket.com/albums/o143/KayCee31614/000_0111.jpg

10-30-2006, 11:34 AM
Kathleen, she is a cutie pie! But ideally, someone else needs to be changing the kitty litter, especially if you're taking immunosuppressants - imuran, cellcept, prednisone, methotrexate, rituxan, humira, cytoxan, etc. If you have to change the litter, you should wear a mask because toxoplasmosis is most often contracted by inhaling the spores present in the cat litter dust and the cats' feces. So washing your hands, while helpful, won't keep you from getting the fungus in your lungs, especially if your litter box isn't hooded. Unfortunately, most docs just say to "be careful" and leave it at that.

Any disease that can be transmitted from an animal to a human or vice versa is called a "zoonosis" - and some of them like cat scratch fever can be fatal. So can Cryptococcus, which is found in the droppings of pigeons, canaries, parakeets and parrots. A teaspoon of pigeon droppings can have as many as 300 million Cryptococcus spores, so if you live in a city with a lot of pigeons, steer clear! In the Ohio River valley where I live, about 80% pf people test positive for exposure to histoplasmosis from bats and blackbirds - in California coccidioidomycosis (valley fever) is more common. So these types of fungal infections are very common - but they don't usually bother healthy people, unfortunately, people with lupus do have to be more careful. We are also at higher risk for food borne illnesses, so that's another area where we have to be extra cautious.

10-30-2006, 11:48 AM
Hi Marycain,
I hear what you are saying. My husband refuses to clean the litter box. Do you think that if I bought a box of paper face masks that that would work? I really would hate to have to give up my kitty. My children are grown now and on their own. I will also purchase a hooded litterbox. I just would really hate to have to give her away. She is such a sweet cat and she is so friendly towards me. She is not friendly towards strangers as she is very skittish of people that she does not know. She has no fleas at all. Oh I am so sad and I really don't want to give her away. What would you recommend that I do?

I don't live in a major city, so I don't have a problem with pigeons. In fact I have never seen one in Adel, GA. I know we had them around our house when I was a kid in NY and thank heavens we don't have those nasty birds here.

I am very careful about food too big time. I had a bout with Salmonella about 6 years ago that nearly killed me, so I am very very careful about food and food handling big time.

Well about the kitty, do you think that it would be in my best interest to find a home for her? I really don't want to get sick, you know what I mean. Hugs, Kathleen

10-30-2006, 12:10 PM
No, you certainly shouldn't give her away - all the research says that people with pets are healthier than people who don't have them, and live longer too! So definitely keep your baby. I have two indoor kitties, both rescues, and I use one of the self-cleaning automatic boxes with a hood - I got mine at Wal-mart, and it's called a LitterMaid, but there are other brands available. It's electric, and has a motion sensor that tells when the cats have visited, several minutes later it automatically rakes through the clumping litter - the soiled litter is swept into a plastic receptacle and the remaining litter is clean. So all I have to do is pop out the used plastic container and pop in a fresh one, and put clean litter in the box. I use a disposable mask just to be safe, but the box keeps the dust down. The kitties are happy because the litter box is always clean- I'm happy because I don't have to scoop.

I used to take my kids to a local park that had lots of pigeons and squirrels, also ducks and geese - I don't do that any more, and I won't let the boys have a turtle because of salmonella. Hamsters, gerbils and guineas are pretty safe, they don't have anything people can catch easily,

If you want to clean your cat's litter box, use just diluted bleach and water instead of lysol or pine oil based products - they contain phenol which can poison your cat.

10-30-2006, 12:17 PM
Ok Mary,
This sounds like a good idea and I am going to Walmarts and get one of those selfcleaning litter boxes. This makes me feel a lot better. Thanks for the advice. Kathleen :)

10-31-2006, 10:19 AM
My doctor did NOT mention the issue of pets (cat litter, in particular.) But I did read about it Daniel Wallace's book "The Lupus Book: A Guide for Patients and their Families." In it there is a caution to use disposable gloves and even masks when changing cat litter (or have someone else do it!) This is a great book, by the way. A wonderful reference.


10-31-2006, 10:51 AM
Yes, I think it's the one book every lupus patient should own as a reference. I hope he comes out with a new edition every couple of years to keep up with changes in research and treatment.

11-08-2006, 11:49 PM
I don't have kitties anymore, just dogs. My husband always changed the cat box, and we used half kitty litter and half baking soda for the odor...I do miss my Coco though...what a lovie. I still get "kitty cravings" but she adopted another house about two houses down now and won't even come to me when I call her. Guess she likes it better there.
My three dogs are a godsend to me. They are my constant companions. Each has his own personality, and his own place in the "pack" (I'm a Cesar Millan fan--anybody else?) what they give me for so LITTLE in return is amazing. when I don't feel well, they almost never leave my side. I think pets are so healthy for us, in ways medicine can't even measure.
We will have new puppies soon....poor Marisol looks SO uncomfortable with six puppies in her, ready to come out ina few weeks. I can hardly wait. I just hope I can part with them after 8 weeks! They wlll make us money, but that's not why we did it. These are such beautiful, sweet dogs. our other two are rescues who let us know every day how much they appreciate us. Pets are hard to care for sometimes, but the health benefits and emotional benefits are uncountable!

11-09-2006, 07:05 AM
Have you ever considered fostering a cat through the Military Pets Foster Service - they arrange "foster families" for pets whose owners are being deployed overseas and don't have any one to take care of their animals. A lot of servicemen and women have to give up their animals when they are sent overseas. This program lets them know their pet has a safe home and will be waiting for them when they come home. You could satisfy your kitty cravings without taking on a lifetime committment to a new pet, and make a serviceman's day at the same time.

11-09-2006, 11:09 AM
great idea...I might do just that. though hubby doesn't want me taking on anhything new for awhile. There's just nothing like having a kittie lay next to you, yawn, then knead their little feet into your belly like, "You're my mommy now, aren't you?" Then they look at you like, "and by the way when are you going to feed me? What kind of pet owner ARE you anyhow?" and twitch their tails sassily and walk away without a backward glance. Theyare SO funny!

11-09-2006, 11:33 AM
My Himalayan mix doesn't realize she is a cat - she thinks she is a person - she loves people food and adores maple syrup - I practically have to fight her off when I fix pancakes - it's so funny. She also loves coffee and sometimes surprises guests by trying to steal a drink from their cups. I've tried shutting her in the bathroom when we have company, but she yows pitifully at being shut away from the action, so I've finally given in and give her a saucerful of coffee to keep her happy. After all, she's part of the family too. And I figure anyone who doesn't like cats must have been a rat in a former life.

11-10-2006, 02:20 PM
Mary, I loved that story! My dear old tabby who left us at age 17 was like that about bacon. If I cooked bacon, he would begin to meow and weave in and out of my legs while I was cooking. It was either feed him some or trip over him. He just wouldn't leave anyone alone until he had his little share of the food. He's been replaced by two new tabbies, and they've never tasted 'people food.' Probably a good thing!

11-10-2006, 02:41 PM
I guess it's probably better for the cats to just have the pet food, but they know I'm a sucker and will give them treats. I had a beautiful brown tabby whom I loved dearly - she also meowed a lot to get her way. I would love to have another one, but we already have two indoor cats, and I feed and shelter several feral cats, so the food and vet bills add up quickly. We buy dry cat food in 50 pound bags for the feral colony, and the last time Michael went to the feed store, the clerk looked at the bag and said, what do you have out there, lions? So I guess I will have to wait until my oldest cat passes on before getting another four footed baby.

11-10-2006, 06:04 PM
It's just my honest opinion, but I do think there's something fundamentally missing in someone who doesn't like animals, whether dogs, cats or whatever. I know a few who I have to put my dogs outside when they come over, because they "just don't like animals." to me, (and I'm getting a little religious here) yes, God gave us dominion, but he also gave us the responsibility of caring for them. My parents live in the country and it makes us FURIOUS the amount of people who just drive their pets out there and dump them, telling themselves that "they'll find a home on a farm somewhere." we've seen dogs and cats literally sit by the side of the road for days at the same spot, just waiting to be picked back up. My parents ended up keeping several, but they can't keep them ALL, so they clean them up, feed them, and take them to a no-kill shelter about an hour away, god bless them.
I don't know what I'd do without my dogs. they are my constant, uncomplaining companions who know without me saying word how I'm feeling. We've had times when we were so poor we couldn't afford dog food, so I'd boil up "sick dog stew"--rice, cheap canned chicken and a can of vegetables. The vet said it was nourishing for them even if they were sick, and they never complained, just ate it up. (WE ate it, too!! :D They are truly members of my family.

11-10-2006, 07:09 PM
I agree with you wholeheartedly - I think people whoe dislike animals probably dislike people too - they just don't show it as openly. And any one who has worked with sociopathic children knows abuse of animals frequently escalates to abuse of people, so we have to teach our children empathy and compassion. I may go too far the other way because I can't stand to see an animal abused for any reason, even medical research, but it's important to me that products I buy and use are cruelty free, even prescription drugs. I guess I come by it honestly - my dad went to jail in his younger days for assaulting a man who tortured a cat, fortunately the judge decided that the animal torture was sufficient provocation and let my dad go.

We live in the country, and are constantly having animals dropped in the woods around our place. We feed the dogs and try to find them homes - the cats who are tame we find homes for, the wild ones are spayed or neutered and join the feral cats. Since they are mostly unadoptable, most shelters would have to put them down, so they are better off with us. They have food and water available all the time, and tinned food twice a day, and Michael converted an outbuilding into a "cat cottage" with lots of warm cubbyholes for napping, walkways and perches, and a big window. They are safe and apparently content - the oldest feral cat has been with us over ten years. So I guess we have them for life.

psalm 56 3
11-12-2006, 03:55 PM
What compassionate and loving people you are. My father in law is like that. He always has a house full of animals. Right now he has 7 dogs and we know at any given time that is subject to increase. We did take two of them off his hands.http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p244/parkert_2006/puppies014.jpg

11-12-2006, 04:05 PM
They are so cute! I don't know much about dog breeds, do you know what they are? Such sweet little faces! Michael has to put the brakes on or I would have a menagerie! (LOL)

psalm 56 3
11-12-2006, 04:13 PM
I bet you would have a menagerie! Thank God for people like you. These are Pom-a-Poo's. They are the new hybrids. My father in law's dog had them and he gave them to us. They are 1/2 Poodle and 1/2 Pomeranian. Both are girls one is Sassy and the other is Sadie. They give the Great Dane a run for his money. They don't even come up to that dogs ankles and will run him off. It kills me. I think I may need to put a mirror in front of them. :wink:

11-12-2006, 04:32 PM
It just proves that it isn't your size that matters - it's your heart.

11-13-2006, 03:25 AM
Your puppies are absolutley beautiful. I thought that they had poodle in them. They are as cute as they can be. Those little outfits that they are wearing make them even cuter. I love animals. :D


psalm 56 3
11-13-2006, 11:23 AM
Thanks, they are bigger now. Their little coats no longer fit them. So I will have to get new ones now that it is starting to get cold out. I use coats because if I had to go outside to do my business I know I would want a coat. It doesn’t take much for them to start shaking. The puppy on the left with the white paw is now mostly gray. She looks like a raccoon. The one on the right is still black and their brother is pure white! All of them were black at birth.

11-13-2006, 11:31 AM
Wow that is really strange that they would change colors like that and it is neat too. I heard that this is common with poodles. My sister has a poodle that was like a copper color and is now gray. I don't understand why they change colors like that. The dalmation dogs are pure white at birth and develope spots as they grow. You don't know what they are going to look like until they are grown. It is neat.


11-13-2006, 07:31 PM
What a great topic. I haven't posted for a while, but can't miss an opportunity to give an AMEN to the animal lovers out there.

It's been a year today since our Lab/Rottie, Ilex, died and she got me through the first hellish year of having Lupus. My husband had started a new job, we lived in a new town,and I was too sick to work. She was by me every day and gave me someone to take care of, which I think was the most therapeutic thing for me, emotionally. She helped me meet new friends in a new town - some co-workers of my husband found out we had a dog and invited us to go walking. We are still friends three years later. Even as I think of her now, during a flare, I get teary for all that she gave me during the hardest time of my life so far.

In January, we adopted a new dog from the shelter. She's perfect in her own way, too. Alley is the opposite of Ilex, and I know she would drive Ilex crazy if she were still alive, but she is a special little girl. She gives me extra love and attention when I'm not feeling well and is always excited to see me.

Thank goodness for animals!

11-14-2006, 12:12 AM
Just as soon as I can figure out how to post pics (heeeelp St.James!) I will post pics of my 4 babies....Max is the undisputed royalty, King of dogs here, though he is getting so old :cry: He is so noble and knows soo many tricks. He should have been a show dog.
Novio, the bull terrier, remains the incorrigible frat boy, dedicated to stealing beer, burping in your face, and regular panty raids. He's smart...just dedicated to acting like Sean Penn in "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" (if he could talk, THAT would be his voice.)
Buster is a tiny Boston terrier who will always be my baby. He is "nanny" to the other dogs...breaks up arguments, even tells us when THEY don't feel well or need to go outside to potty!
And Marisol,our other bull terrier, is sooo very pregnant. The vet says another week. We can actually feel the six puppies in her, and even "see" body parts through her tummy when they stretch. She's going to be a very good mommy; she has stuffed animals in her bed that she carries around and "bathes" each day (along with Buster, who is VERY indignant!) I feel so isolated at times, but with these guys, I am never alone or lonely. Unconditional love and (usually) respect. What magnificent creatures!