Allergy to cats is a serious disease that deprives a person of pleasant communication with these amazing animals. Tears, constant sneezing, rashes and itching are the least dangerous manifestations of the disease. Can a person with a cat allergy keep a cat without harming their health?
What does cat allergy mean?
Allergy is a disease that is in most cases hereditary. Allergy is a “protection system failure”, a situation when the body’s immune system mistakes harmless substance as an enemy. Scientists can’t fully explain the mechanism of excessive immune response, although research in this area is being conducted all over the world.
Why cats cause allergies?
These are specific proteins in cat’s saliva, urine and other body that cause allergies. Licking, pets spread the allergen on their coats, and it explains the misconception that it is cat’s coats that causes allergic reactions. In fact, the agent provoking such reactions is a foreign protein, trapped into the human’s body, not the coat itself. Sometimes allergic reactions may occur to cat feed or litter, so it would be reasonable to pass a blood test in order to identify the allergen before looking a new home for your pet.
What are allergy manifestations?
Depending on the severity of the disease, individual characteristics and the amount of allergen entered the body, the allergic reactions may be the following:
- Inflammation of mucous membranes, sneezing, runny and stuffy nose;
- Sensitivity to light, tearing, conjunctivitis, redness of the eyes;
- Skin rash, often itchy, appearing after the contact with the allergen or across the body in inversed manner;
- Shortness of breath and wheezing.
Signs of allergy to cats are nonspecific. Similar allergic reactions may occur to rodents, pollen, foods, dyes, etc. There are cases when the disease recedes after a few years of life with a cat, but communication with some other cats still causes unpleasant symptoms. Apparently the immunity “gets used” to the allergen of a specific cat and stops fighting with it. However, if the patient has shortness of breath, such experiments should be put under constant medical supervision.
Is it possible to cure allergies?
Unfortunately, allergy is a chronic disease that is not curable. However, following the recommendations of a competent doctor, you can reduce the intensity and frequency of allergic reactions. Sometimes cat allergy in children disappears in adolescence. People suffering from this disease, should be able to control the disease and should know what to do in case of allergic reactions.
To stop an allergic reaction, doctors use a comprehensive treatment:
- Symptomatic drugs – fight with apparent symptoms (sneezing, itching, etc.);
- Antihistamines – block the action of substances that provoke allergies;
- Decongestants – relieve the nasopharynx swelling.
In most cases, cat allergy manifestations appear less frequently, if a person suffering from allergies takes care of the general state of the organism. Effective measures are: smoking and alcohol consumption quitting, contrast showers, regular physical exercise, proper nutrition and regular walks, especially in coniferous forest.
Cats and people suffering from cat allergy under the same roof
You have to look for a new home for your cat in case a person suffering from allergies has bronchial spasms and is amenable to laryngeal edema – a life-threatening symptoms, offering no compromise. When it comes to a running nose and sore eyes, you can try creating an enabling environment by minimizing the amount of allergen in the room:
- Once a week it is necessary to bathe the pet and comb its coat very carefully;
- Change the litter immediately after use;
- Closed cat litter box keeps allergens inside, preventing the spread by air;
- In case you install an air purifier in your apartment, allergic reactions are most likely to appear less often. Daily airing of rooms is also very effective;
- Clothing and bedding should be stored in sealed bags;
- Instead of heavy curtains it better to choose ones made of lightweight fabrics;
- It is advisable to do a wet cleaning of the entire apartment twice a week using special detergents in order to neutralize the allergen;
- Do not let the cat enter the bedroom and do not let it sleep on the clothes of a person suffering from allergy. It would be perfect if all clothing was stored in plastic bags;
- It would be better to remove carpeting and to replace upholstered furniture items with its leather analogues;
- After a contact with the pet people with allergies should wash their hands and face, and rinse the mouth;
- Cat allergy symptoms become apparent less frequently if the pet is completely healthy. Any disease increases the amount of protein excreted. It is important to vaccinate the cat timely, carry out parasites prevention and bring your cat to semiannual checkups at a vet clinic;
- Cat care tasks shouldn’t be performed by a family member with allergies;
- The pet should be spayed or neutered pet before puberty the reduce the production of allergens;
- At the first sign of general state deterioration the person with allergies should take prescribed rugs. If left unattended the symptoms and reaction to the allergen will be amplified from time to time.
It is interesting that children growing up in a family keeping a cat from infancy are less amenable to allergies. Scientists believe that one pet in a family reduces the risk of disease from 20% to 10%. If there are two cats in an apartment, the risk of allergy is reduced to 7%.
Do hypoallergenic cats exist?
Very rarely it happens so that there are born kittens that don’t produce the aggressive protein – approximately one kitten among 50,000. Unfortunately, such a valuable quality isn’t inherited. There are no hypoallergenic cat breeds – it’s just advertising. Dogs and cats that don’t cause allergies – are a dream of many breeders working on this problem for more than a decade. Unfortunately their efforts aren’t successful so far, but due to their research it became clear there are cats that provoke allergic reactions less frequently.
First of all, these are light-colored cats that provoke less allergic reactions. The lighter the coat – the better. Why is it so? There is no clear answer so far, but it is proved that white animals rarely cause allergy symptoms than cats with a dark-colored coat. Another option is to keep a hairless cat, like Rex or Sphynx. They secrete the same amount of protein as their counterparts with regular coats do, but it is easier to wash it off from the cat's body. In addition, hairless cat don’t spread the allergen around the apartment, as other cats do during molting. And to the last group of relative “safe” cats belong sterilized and neutered pets that produce ten times less protein because of sustained hormonal levels.
Let the cat live at your place!
Many people, despite having an allergy to cats, decide to buy a kitten. In order not to be disappointed, you should act the following way:
- As allergy to cats can’t be cured, before buying a kitten you should tell the breeder that there is a person suffering from allergies in the family. Responsible breeders will agree to take the kitten back in case of failure, but the terms and conditions should be included in the sales contract;
- Before visiting the nursery you should consult a doctor, and follow the recommendation concerning the drugs that blocks allergic reactions in case they occur, and be sure to take this drug with you;
- You should spend at least a couple of hours in the nursery, playing with the kitten contacting with its coat;
- If no allergy symptoms became apparent during this time, there is a great chance of success. To make sure that the selected kitten doesn’t cause allergy, you need to take a sample of cat’s hair or saliva. An allergist will tell you how to do it right. Laboratory tests show whether the protein contained in the sample is dangerous for people with allergies.
Cat allergy in children is a special case. It is important to explain the kid first that a bought kitten appeared at home for a temporary housing. If all goes well, the pet can stay, if not – the child being aware of the fact that the kitten may move to another family, will be less worried about that.