Are You Allergic to Cats

Cat allergies are common, even among pet owners. There are several symptoms you need to look out for if you suspect you are allergic to cats. These symptoms can indicate other illnesses as well, so you need to confirm the diagnosis by running a few tests.

The Allergens

A large amount of people believe that cat allergies are mainly caused by cat hair. However, cat hair is not an allergen. The main allergen in cats is a component in the dander they shed. The glycoprotein F1 that is present in cat dander is responsible for nearly all cat allergy reactions in people. The protein cat be also found in cat urine and saliva, but in much lower concentrations.

Another possible allergen can be the dust and dirt that gathers in the fur of the pet.

Allergy Symptoms

If you are allergic to cats you are likely to display different symptoms, ranging from light sneezing to swelling and severe rashes.  These are responses of the immune system to cat dander. The dander can also cause:

  • Skin rashes and itchy skin.
  • Runny and itchy nose and watery eyes. These allergy symptoms may point to a cold or flu, but the discharge from the nose and eyes will be transparent and not consistent, as in the case of a cold.
  • Breathing difficulties and asthmatic episodes.
  • Swelling located in the extremities, or even face and throat.
  • Anaphylaxis. This is a severe allergic reaction that causes swelling and can be fatal. An epinephrine shot is needed to reduce the swelling. 

These symptoms will only occur if you are exposed to an environment where cat dander is present. The reactions will disappear once you're in a dander free environment, but the rashes might persist.

Diagnosing Allergies

If you suspect you are allergic to cats and you experience any symptoms mentioned above, you need to make sure the cause is not allergies to other inhalants or materials. Cat allergies can be confirmed with a blood test such, as the ELISA test, or with skin testing.

Reducing Allergies

If you're not a pet owner, you can manage your allergies by reducing your exposure to cats. If you have a cat, you need to get treatment and apply some rules to reduce the allergens in your home.

The most effective method of reducing the allergic reactions to cats is an allergy shot. You will receive a shot containing the glycoprotein that causes the allergy and this will challenge your immunity, making it stronger, so you will experience fewer allergic reactions.

Proper hygiene of your cat can also reduce the amount of dander he sheds, and reduce the amount of dust and dirt in his fur.