Are You Developing Allergies to Cats?

Allergies to cats may affect about 1 in 10 people. If you are a cat owner and you suspect you may be developing allergies to your pet, you should watch your symptoms and get a confirmation from a specialist.

Allergy Symptoms

If you suspect you may be developing allergies to cats you should have at least one of the following symptoms:

  • Sneezing, due to the presence of cat dander, which is the allergen causing the negative reactions
  • Itchy skin
  • Coughing
  • Rashes on the skin, especially in areas where you have had contact with the cat
  • Swelling of extremities, face or eye lids
  • Constricted air ways and panting or wheezing

You should display these symptoms after being exposed to the cat or an area where there is cat dander or cat hair. These symptoms may not be only displayed due to cat allergies and may also be symptoms of a respiratory infection or allergies to different agents. Testing is needed to differentiate between these possible problems and get a clear diagnosis.

Allergy Testing

The allergy testing may be of several types. An allergologist may perform a blood testing (the RAST or ELISA tests). The blood should contain an antibody developed only if you are allergic to cat dander (or more specifically a glycoprotein present in cat dander). The blood test will give conclusive results in over 90% of patients tested.

However, you have also the option of getting an intradermal testing. This type of test will not require a blood sample, but your skin will be tested. A small quantity of the feline glycoprotein that is contained in the cat dander will be injected under the skin and if you develop an allergic reaction within 5 hours of the injection, the doctor will diagnose you with cat allergies. The doctor may also inject other common allergens that you may also be allergic to and may be present in the cat’s fur (i.e. pollens or dust mites). You may not be allergic to your cat, but to the substances he carries in his fur.

Once you get the results, you will be able to consider a few treatment options.

Allergy Treatment

If you are a pet owner and you have tested positive for cat allergies, you can opt for a few possible treatments:

  • Short term solutions such a antihistamines or steroids, which can alleviate the allergy symptoms and can be administered for a few months in a row. These drugs may cause a few side effects that can be worse than the actual allergies symptoms, if administered for a longer period of time
  • Allergy shots, recommended by most doctors due to the fact that the shots will have no major side effects and may help you immensely in the long run. Some people may not respond to allergy shots, but over 75% of people show improvement after 6 or more months of treatment.