Cat and dog exposure and respiratory morbidities in cystic fibrosis

J Pediatr. 2014 Oct;165(4):830-5.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2014.05.046. Epub 2014 Jul 12.


Objective: To understand the triggers that may impact respiratory health in cystic fibrosis (CF), including the effects of pets, because environmental factors contribute to one-half of the variation in lung function in patients with CF.

Study design: A total of 703 subjects with CF were recruited through the US CF Twin-Sibling Study. Questionnaires were used to determine the presence/absence of cats and dogs in households with a child with CF. Questionnaires, chart review, and US CF Foundation Patient Registry data were used to track respiratory and infection outcomes.

Results: Within the sample, 47% of subjects reported owning a dog, and 28% reported owning a cat. After adjustment for demographic factors, dog ownership was not associated with any adverse clinical outcomes, and cat ownership was associated an increased risk in developing nasal polyps (aOR 1.66; P = .024) compared with noncat owners. Subjects who owned both cats and dogs were twice as likely to report wheezing compared with other subjects (aOR: 2.01; P = .009). There were no differences in prevalence and age of acquisition for the common CF respiratory pathogens Pseudomonas aeruginosa and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus between cat/dog owners and noncat/dog owners.

Conclusions: Cat ownership was associated with a greater frequency of developing nasal polyps and combined cat-dog ownership was associated with a greater rate of wheezing. Prospective studies are needed to confirm these associations and the potential psychosocial benefits of cat and/or dog ownership.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Cats*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications
  • Cystic Fibrosis / physiopathology*
  • Dogs*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus
  • Middle Aged
  • Morbidity
  • Pets*
  • Prevalence
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Registries
  • Respiration
  • Respiration Disorders / complications*
  • Respiratory Sounds
  • Risk Factors
  • Siblings
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult