What allergies are caused by cats
Allergies occur when the body’s immune system reacts to a specific substance as though it’s harmful.
It’s not clear why this happens, but most people affected own a family history of allergies or own closely related conditions, such as asthma or eczema.
The number of people with allergies is increasing every year.
The reasons for this are not understood, but 1 of the main theories is it’s the result of living in a cleaner, germ-free environment, which reduces the number of germs our immune system has to deal with.
It’s thought this may cause it to overreact when it comes into contact with harmless substances.
How to manage an allergy
In many cases, the most effective way of managing an allergy is to avoid the allergen that causes the reaction whenever possible.
For example, if you own a food allergy, you should check a food’s ingredients list for allergens before eating it.
There are also several medicines available to help control symptoms of allergic reactions, including:
- decongestants – tablets, capsules, nasal sprays or liquids that can be used as a short-term treatment for a blocked nose
- antihistamines – these can be taken when you notice the symptoms of a reaction, or before being exposed to an allergen, to stop a reaction occurring
- lotions and creams, such as moisturising creams (emollients) – these can reduce skin redness and itchiness
- steroid medicines – sprays, drops, creams, inhalers and tablets that can assist reduce redness and swelling caused by an allergic reaction
For some people with extremely severe allergies, a treatment called immunotherapy may be recommended.
This involves being exposed to the allergen in a controlled way over a number of years so your body gets used to it and does not react to it so severely.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction
Allergic reactions generally happen quickly within a few minutes of exposure to an allergen.
They can cause:
- a red, itchy rash
- a runny or blocked nose
- wheezing and coughing
- red, itchy, watery eyes
- worsening of asthma or eczema symptoms
Most allergic reactions are mild, but occasionally a severe reaction called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock can happen.
This is a medical emergency and needs urgent treatment.
Substances that cause allergic reactions are called allergens.
The more common allergens include:
- latex – used to make some gloves and condoms
- grass and tree pollen – an allergy to these is known as hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
- dust mites
- medicines – including ibuprofen, aspirin and certain antibiotics
- food – particularly nuts, fruit, shellfish, eggs and cows’ milk
- mould – these can release little particles into the air that you can breathe in
- animal dander, tiny flakes of skin or hair
- insect bites and stings
- household chemicals – including those in detergents and hair dyes
Most of these allergens are generally harmless to people who are not allergic to them.
Getting assist for allergies
See a GP if you ponder you or your kid might own had an allergic reaction to something.
The symptoms of an allergic reaction can also be caused by other conditions.
A GP can assist determine whether it’s likely you own an allergy.
If they ponder you might own a mild allergy, they can offer advice and treatment to assist manage the condition.
If your allergy is particularly severe or it’s not clear what you’re allergic to, they may refer you to an allergy specialist for testing and advice about treatment.
Find out more about allergy testing
Is it an allergy, sensitivity or intolerance?
A reaction produced by the body’s immune system when exposed to a normally harmless substance.
The exaggeration of the normal effects of a substance.
For example, the caffeine in a cup of coffee may cause extreme symptoms, such as palpitations and trembling.
Where a substance causes unpleasant symptoms, such as diarrhoea, but does not involve the immune system.
People with an intolerance to certain foods can typically eat a little quantity without having any problems.
Sheet final reviewed: 22 November 2018
Next review due: 22 November 2021
You’ve decided to open your home to a little kitty. And why not? Cats are playful and cute, and they don’t require as much maintenance as dogs.
But there are things future cat owners need to consider before bringing little Fluffy home.
Being a pet parent is a large commitment that requires time, effort and a lot of love. You also need to be make certain being around your new feline friend won’t own you rushing to the emergency room in search of an epipen.
Pet allergies are extremely common — between 5 and 10 percent of the population suffers from allergic reactions after being exposed to household pets.
According to theAsthma and Allergy Foundation of America(AAFA), cat allergies are about two times more common than those caused by dogs. That’s because dog allergens don’t stay airborne as endless as cats’ do, according to LiveScience.com.
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Unfortunately, that also means a lot of animals — numerous of them cats — become homeless.
About 11 percent of cats finish up back in shelters because their owners are allergic, according to the ASPCA.
With 3.4 million cats in shelters across the country each year, that’s about 374,000 felines surrendered because of allergies.
And that number doesn’t include cats dumped out on the highway each day.
There is a lot of confusion and misinformation about what exactly causes an allergic reaction to cats.
Most people believe what they’re allergic to is cat hair — which isn’t necessarily true. The genuine culprits are the kitty’s saliva, tears, urine and dander — those dried flakes of skin that drop off. When a cat grooms itself or goes to the potty, it releases Fel-d1, a feline allergen, into the air, and onto its skin and hair.
An allergic reaction happens when someone with a cat allergy breathes the air or comes into contact with protein-laden hair or dander.
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Some of the symptoms of cat allergies include coughing and wheezing, hives or rashes, red, itchy eyes, runny noses, and sneezing. It can take anywhere from a few minutes to hours for symptoms to appear.
All cats produce the allergen, so there isn’t a truly hypoallergenic cat.
Male cats produce the most allergens, and those who are intact make more allergens than neutered males, according to PetFinder.com.
Some breeds can be more problematic for allergy sufferers than others. Cats with darker coats tend to give off more allergens. And allergy sufferers should stay away from short-haired cats since their coats don’t hold the protein against their skin love long-haired cats, EverydayHealth.com suggests.
There may be relief for people who suffer from allergies but still love cats.
Even though it hasn’t been medically or scientifically proven yet, there are cats that may be considered hypoallergenic, which means they are unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.
The Balinese, the Bengal and the Burmese are every breeds that produce low levels of allergens.
But the consensus is the Siberian is best suited for people with cat allergies.
It’s believed the breed may own low levels of these allergens or proteins, according to Siberian Research’swebsite.
About 50 percent of Siberians are said to own levels lower than normal cats, the group’s research showed, while about 15 percent of the breed produces extremely low levels and could be placed with people who own severe or dangerous reactions to cats.
Erica Rice said she and her husband adopted a Siberian kitten after they discovered their 2-year-old daughter Brianna couldn’t live with cats.
Erica Rice’s daughter Brianna, 2, plays with the family’s Siberian kitten, Duncan. Rice said her family adopted Duncan because the breed is considered one of the best for people with allergies.
Photo credit: Erica Rice
«We had a cat before she was born,» Rice said.
«But she started getting runny noses and we weren’t capable to figure out why.»
After getting Brianna tested, their doctor sure she had allergies.
When their cat died, the family didn’t desire to get another one because of the potential health risks to Brianna.
«She also has cystic fibrosis, and we didn’t desire to take any risks. There’s a higher risk of her getting infected because of her allergies,» she added.
Rice said because Brianna loves animals, her husband did some research online and contacted Siberian breeder Kate Stryker about adopting a kitten.
Stryker runs ForestWind Siberian Cat Breederin Buffalo, New York, and has been breeding Siberians since 2005.
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«About 80 percent of our buyers are cat allergic or asthmatic or both,» said Stryker, who also happens to be highly allergic to cats.
Stryker said she gives potential adopters questionnaires, asking them detailed questions: whether anyone in the household has allergies, if they’ve had allergy shots and about the types of reactions and symptoms. Once every the information is collected, she invites potential adopters to spend time with the felines — to ensure the cat is a excellent fit and so the animal won’t be surrendered because of allergies.
«I am extremely aware of the necessity to take a slow beat and to consider every of the various factors that go into making a successful kitten placement into a cat allergic or asthmatic home,» she said.
According to Rice, Brianna and Duncan — now 23 weeks ancient — are inseparable, and the 2-year-old hasn’t had an allergic reaction since they brought him home.
«All around, he’s just awesome,» she said.
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Because purebred cats can often come at a high cost, potential adopters can still consider shelter cats with some medical intervention.
Cat allergies can be controlled with over-the-counter allergy medication — antihistamines and decongestants or nasal sprays.
WebMD.com also recommends allergy shots, which own been known to make a large difference in some allergy sufferers.
The AAFA also suggests some lifestyle tips to assist allergy sufferers minimize reactions while keeping kitty happy at home:
- Although it may only be a nominal decrease, bathing a pet regularly can reduce the number of airborne allergens.
- Keep pets out of the bedroom and change clothing after prolonged exposure to an animal.
- Allergens love to settle into deep carpeting, which can make allergies worse. Ponder about getting rid of carpeting and sticking with a bare floor.
- Using air cleaners with a HEPA filter can assist remove pet allergens from the air.
- And it may go without saying, but remember to hold kitty’s litter box clean.