Tag Archives: cats and allergies

Is kitty making you sneeze?

In the United States, 10% of the population has pet allergies. The most common pet to cause an allergic reaction is the cat. Contrary to popular belief, it is not due to the cat’s hair or fur. There are proteins in a cat’s saliva, urine and dander (dried skin flakes) that trigger allergic reactions. We all know what meticulous self-groomers cats are. At any time, all three of the proteins can be on a cat’s tongue.

People who have allergies have overly sensitive immune systems. Their bodies think that harmless things like cat dander or pollen are invaders in their bodies. They attack these invaders as they might attack a bacteria or virus. The result is that symptoms, which are side-effects of this attack, begin to appear. These symptoms include such things as; coughing, sneezing, wheezing, rash, stuffy nose, itchy eyes, and runny nose, especially if a cat has licked or bitten the person. In addition, if your cat is an outside cat, it can bring in other allergens such as mold, pollen and other environmental triggers. These symptoms can occur within minutes or hours of exposure.

There is no way to prevent an allergic reaction. Some research has shown that exposure to pets at an early age may reduce the risk of developing pet allergies later on in life. You can reduce the amount of allergens on your cat through frequent bathing. Brushing your cat regularly will reduce the amount of loose fur (and attached saliva) in the air. Also, it may help to feed your cat a diet that is high in Omega 3 fatty acids. These acids help to keep the cat’s fur healthy and minimize dander.

Are there any cats that do not cause allergies? Some people feel that the “hairless” Sphinx will eliminate the possibility of allergies. However, since the allergy can be triggered by cat urine, saliva and dander, we know this may not be true. As cute as they are, if kitty is making you sneeze, think about getting a different pet.