Is it safe to have a cat and bird if I have COPD and emphysema?

Suea asked...

I have COPD and emphysema, I asked my doctor regarding cats and birds. He said to not be around either. I have been trying to locate information on the computer, but unable to locate anything. Thanks.

Expert Answer

Loutfi S. Aboussouan is a staff physician for the Cleveland Clinic's Respiratory Institute and Neurological Institute. He is board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary disease, critical care medicine, and sleep medicine and directs the pulmonary curriculum for the second-year class of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner School of Medicine.

The question of COPD and pets is quite interesting. Both cats and birds can cause pulmonary problems but many patients with COPD have pets without any problem. Cats can cause asthmatic reactions in some individuals and some patients with COPD have such an asthmatic component. On the other hand, exposure to birds (usually at home) can cause a lung condition called hypersensitivity pneumonitis. The presence of this condition would usually require avoiding birds and in some cases treatment with steroids. Having COPD is not necessarily a risk for the development of this condition. Of course, your doctor may have additional concerns about your condition, but in general, I would say that if you have not had any problem with pets in the past, then I do not see a problem with being around them.