Cats and Allergies
14 April 2013
Allergies that cause allergic reactions are called triggers or
allergens. Almost anything can be an allergen; including pollen, dust mites,
detergents, tobacco smoke, insect stings, pets, feathers and perfume. The
severity of a reaction to allergens varies dramatically from person to person.
Sneezing and a running or blocked nose
Itchy and watery eyes
Coughing and wheezing
Asthma and eczema sufferers may find that their symptoms are exacerbated
by the presence of an allergen.
Am I allergic to cats?
For some people it is fairly obvious that they are allergic to cats
because they have an almost immediate reaction to a cat entering a room. In
other cases it may not be so easy to tell, particularly if someone is allergic
to more than one trigger in their environment.
If you think you (or a family member) might be allergic to your cat it
is a good idea to have a trial separation to determine if the cat is the cause
of the reaction. Cats are often singled out because they are easily identifiable
but it is important to remember that they are just one possible household cause
and that dust mites are by far the most common trigger for house-born
If you don’t own a cat but are thinking of getting one, a simple visit
to someone who has a cat or to an Adoption Centre will show you whether you are
allergic or not.
Is there anything I can do to ease my symptoms?
There are a number of different things that significantly ease allergy
Using anti-histamine tablets or a nasal spray (consult your doctor
Designating some areas as cat-free zones, particularly bedrooms
Regular cleaning of rooms where the cat sleeps (vacuumed rooms should be
allowed to settle as vacuuming stirs up allergens)
Grooming your cat outdoors and wiping him with a damp cloth
Washing your cat’s bed regularly
In tests, Petal Cleanse (www.biolife-international.co.uk) alleviated the
symptoms of 90% of sufferers. For more information on Petal Cleanse, and many
other products endorsed by Allergy UK, visit their website www.allergyuk.org or
phone their helpline on 01608 686626
Certain breeds and even certain cats are better for allergy sufferers
than others because of their fur (trial and error is the only way to tell if
this is the case for you). Interestingly it is a cat’s skin cells that are
usually the trigger, not the fur.
Can I get a cat if I am allergic?
If you still want a cat even though you have a reaction to them then
your symptoms are probably mild to moderate and therefore manageable via the
steps above. Some people find that repeated exposure to the same cat or cats
over time banishes their allergic reaction altogether.
Should I keep my cat?
The answer to this varies greatly from person to person. First you must
make sure that it is the cat causing the allergic reaction; you don’t want to
go through the stress and upset or rehoming a much-loved pet only to discover
that stress is what brings on your asthmatic attacks!
In the end, the decision about whether to get or keep a cat depends entirely
on you and the severity of your reaction. In some cases the symptom-easing
steps above may provide enough relief for you to live happily with a cat but in
others it is advisable to avoid cats and seek advice from your doctor.