For today’s #TipTuesday, I’m going to talk about how to approach taking care of your pets if you are immune compromised, such as undergoing chemo to treat cancer.
In 2015 and 2016, I underwent treatment for stage 3a breast cancer. While I didn’t have any pets during that time, I have thought about what precautions I would take in looking after our cat, Tom, if I have a cancer recurrence. For some general guidelines, check out the American Cancer Society’s info on being around pets while undergoing chemo.
Our family didn’t have any pets while I was going through chemo, but I have thought about how I would handle cat care if my cancer comes back. As with anything medical, discuss your particulars with your own healthcare providers and pet’s vet.
My first stop would be to my oncologist to ask:
1. Do I need to worry about if I get cat scratches from my cat? If so, what should I do to protect my health if my cat scratches me?
2. Can I clean my cat’s litter box, or should someone else do that for me?
Then I would talk to Tom’s vet to discuss how to mitigate any health risks to me when I interact with Tom.
Declawing a cat when someone in the household is going through chemo is not necessary. I have seen this scenario brought up in declawing discussions as an argument in favour. My personal position has always been against declawing because of the medically unnecessary harm. Soft Paws, adhesive fake nails that will naturally fall off and can be replaced as needed, are a benign alternative as well as temporarily rehoming a kitty with a friend, relative, or pet boarding facility.