For people with asthma and other conditions, it’s common to be allergic to pet fur such as those on cats. In fact, it’s common in the USA for people who have a sensitive immune system to experience cat allergies.
Usually, an oversensitive immune system might make you allergic to most things. And keeping a cat as a pet can flare up your allergies even if you don’t have cat allergies. For example, your cat can go out and come back with mold, pollen or other allergens on her fur. This can aggravate your condition if you’re already suffering from cat allergies.
In this article:
- Causes, Symptoms & Treatment of Cat Allergies in Humans
Causes of Cat Allergies
Roughly 30% of the US population have allergies and the proportion caused by cats is quite common. In fact, cat allergies occur twice as much as that of dog allergies in the population.
Genetics is often one of the common causes of pet allergies. This means that you may have inherited it from other family members.
But, it could be the immune system is creating antibodies to fight off allergens it thinks are harmful to the body. These allergens usually come from your cat’s fur, glands, sweat, saliva, dander, or urine, which are not harmful.
As the immune system tries to fight off these allergens, as if they were a virus, bacteria, the body reacts to this. This reaction is what often results in symptoms.
So, when you come in contact with these, an allergic reaction is created as the body tries to fight them off. This results in a runny nose, skin rashes, asthma, an even itching – all of which are typical symptoms of allergic reaction.
The particles that carry allergen are able to circulate in the air, settle on bedding, or stay on clothes. These specks often contain proteins that the body often reacts to, even though they are not harmful to the body.
This can happen a lot if you have an oversensitive immune system. So that a harmless thing like cat dander is taken for an invader. The system then attacks it, with the result being the symptoms of allergy.
Symptoms of Cat Allergies
How do you know if you have a cat allergy? Usually, the symptoms are obvious. They range from red or itchy eyes, runny or stuffy nose, and rash on the chest or face.
However, cats aren’t always the culprit. The best way to be sure is to get your doctor to do a skin or blood test to determine the cause of the symptoms.
Here are a few signs that may portend the symptoms of cat allergies:
When cat allergens land on your nose or eye, you may experience inflamed eyes or stuffy nose. Sometimes, it could be swelling of membranes.
Your skin area may even become red as a result of your cat scratching at your skin. And the eyes can sometimes be itchy after petting a cat.
If the allergen levels are low, you may not even experience the symptoms until after several days.
However, if you’re highly allergic to cats, you may experience major symptoms like wheezing, coughing or shortness of breath after inhaling cat allergens.
Sometimes, a severe rash can appear on your neck, upper chest and face. Finally, it’s also possible for you to experience another asthma episode if you are asthmatic and your contact with a cat is prolonged.
Treatment of Cat Allergies
There are standard allergy drugs that can help you relieve your symptoms. This includes Antihistamines – which can be bought over the counter – those that comes in a nasal spray.
If you don’t have access to that, you can try Pseudoephedrine or Decongestants. Another common treatment for allergies is Nasal Steroid Sprays. They are a catalyst for subsiding allergic symptoms.
Although these things will help you fight pet allergies, the following are much more effective:
1. Reduce your exposure to cats. No doubt, the most effective way to avoid cat allergies is to avoid cats and their dander. If you think little cat contact is no problem, think again. Touching, hugging, or kissing your cat can quickly trigger your allergy.
2. Only allow cats to roam a predefined area of your home. Also, make sure the cat doesn’t have access to your bedroom. Let the cat enjoy the outdoors a bit more. Don’t worry it’ll be safe there and the allergens won’t reach you.
3. Careful of who/what you come in contact with. If you have friends, families with cats, it’s possible to get exposed to allergens from their clothing and luggage. This can create a serious reaction. So it’s important to watch out for that.
Another extreme choice is to opt for other pets such as fish, turtles, or some other breeds of cats like the hairless sphinx so you can be sure the problems that may arise from the fur is minimized.
What if You Want to Continue to Keep Your Pet?
Although the best way to avoid cat allergy is to avoid cats by removing them from your home, you may still want to keep one for one reason or the other.
In this case, there are certain things you can do to reduce allergens from your fluffy kitty:
One way people have found to work is to keep the cat out of your bedroom and keep the door closed. The reason behind this is that your bedroom is likely where you spend most of your time at home. And once your cat makes it her abode, you’re not safe from another attack.
You also have to clean your bedroom manually or run a HEPA air cleaning in the room for a few hours every day to clean up the air of cat allergens.
Another option is to keep the areas your cat stays most of the time clean to reduce the allergens. This might mean keeping the floor and walls bare and ensure the home is uncluttered.
If you have carpets, you may want to use a vacuum to eliminate allergens that may have dropped on the floor. Finally, changing the clothes you’ve worn around your cat for a while can also help reduce instances of allergens.
Final Thoughts: Cat Allergies in Humans
If your cat is putting your life at risk, it’s a wise decision to give her up – even if you love her so dearly.
What if your children have fallen in love with the kitten? Then you should dissolve yourself of the responsibility and leave her in their care such that you aren’t close enough for another bout of an allergic reaction.
One mistake you should watch out for is let the cat roam the house freely. If that happens, the allergies can reappear. When it does, ensure you visit your doctor.
Don’t expect that the condition will melt away over time; rather, it might get worse and make your life miserable – even increasing the risk of asthma.
Once you see any sign of cat allergy, alert your doctor so you can figure out a way to tackle the problem.