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Felinexpress.com home > Cat Care > Allergic to Cats

Allergic to Cats

Thrusting her cat carrier across the counter at the local shelter, the lady declared loudly, ďI canít keep it I am allergic to cats!Ē Sighing, I peered into the cat carrier to be met by the gaze of an orange long-haired kitty. The statement; ďI am allergic to cats,Ē is one the top five reasons given by folks who surrender their cats every year.

Believing they are allergic to cat hair most folks arenít knowledgeable on what might be causing their allergies. Itís not the hair causing the allergic reaction; itís the protein in the catís body (known as Fel d 1). This protein exists in the saliva and the sebaceous glands. (The sebaceous glands are found in the base of the chin, the lips, the tail, eyelids and scrotum). Because the protein connects to the hair, cat hair gets blamed.

Although there are certain cat breeds labeled as ďhypoallergenicĒ cats or allergy-free cats, if you suffer allergic reactions, owning even these breeds; Siberians, Hairless Sphinx, and Devon Rex isnít wise. You canít stop a cat from shedding this protein daily.

Fel d 1 is picked up when the cat grooms himself. As he licks and cleans his fur the proteins are deposited on his hair and once dry- the dander flakes off and becomes airborne. For people with an over-sensitive immune system, exposure to this dander can land them in allergy misery. Treating these proteins as an alien invasion, the body launches an attack. Within minutes, hours or even days, allergy sufferers are left with the following symptoms to contend with:

  • Rapid sneezing
  • Red or teary eyes
  • Trouble breathing
  • Rash or hives
  • Coughing, wheezing
  • Itchy skin

A cat doesnít have to be present in the room for these symptoms to manifest themselves.

Am I allergic to cats?

If you experience any of the above symptoms after being in a home with cats, you can almost bet you are allergic. A trip to an allergist will confirm or deny your suspicions.  Another indication will occur if you are scratched by your cat. AFTER healing, the area around the scratch remains red for days. This means your body is intolerant to the protein.  This does not apply if a wound becomes infected, or there are long lines of red running from the scratch-which is dangerous and you need a doctor immediately! This applies to a cat scratch staying red right around the edges days after it heals.

  • Are there any products available to stop allergies to cats?
  • NasalGuard Allergy Block- a drug-free gel that is FDA approved
  • Mite-Nix Anti Allergy System- comes in a spray, an air freshener and a laundry aide.
  • AllerPet/C- not a shampoo but a solution to wipe over your catís skin at least twice a week. Removes the majority of the pet dander and also conditions the kittyís fur so he isnít so apt to groom himself on a regular basis.

Your allergist will have other options available for you.

What if I am allergic to the catís remedy?

  • There are simple steps you can take to help control your allergies.
  • Neuter your tomcat!  The males are known to shed more of this protein- neutering them helps considerably to stop the shedding of the protein.
  • Keep kitty out of the bedroom and install a dust cover over your mattress and bedding.
  • Vacuum daily
  • Run an air filter or HEPA filter
  • Check out the City Pet litter pan filter- sucks dander and litter dust right out of the air.
  • Groom your cat daily and wash your hands before and after grooming your cat
  • Donít skip your daily showers
  • Wash your hands frequently

I am allergic to cats but not kittens- why is that?

Have you seen an allergist? If you are allergic to cats but show no symptoms of being allergic to kittens, your allergy may be to something else inside (or outside) your home. Generally people who are allergic to the protein are allergic to both cats and kittens.

Does it matter if it is a long-haired or a short-haired cat I am allergic to?

It is not the hair you are allergic to- it is the protein that rests in the dander, the urine, the saliva and the feces. Short-haired cat or long-haired cat it wonít matter, the allergy will still remain. Babies and kids can also be allergic to cats. Consult your pediatrician about the best course of action to follow if your child is allergic to the household cat.

As for the orange kitty surrendered to me on that day, she came home with me that night where she still resides to this day.  Thankfully, I am not allergic to cats.

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