Diagnosing Cat Dander Allergies

Cat dander allergies are among the most common types of allergies in humans along with pollen and food allergies. Allergies are a disease of the immune system; sensitive people are more susceptible to allergies. It is not uncommon that people who develop allergies to cats may also suffer from other inhalant allergies. Diagnosing cat dander allergies is essential to be able to determine the best course of action.

What Causes the Allergies?

Cats can cause allergic reactions in people but the exact causes of the irritation are not clear for everyone.

Some people may think hair or fur causes the allergies, but hair cannot cause irritation in humans.

Cat dander contains a protein known as the glycoprotein Fel d1, which is the main cause of allergies. Cat urine and saliva may have traces of this protein, but not enough to cause irritation.

The dust and different pollens that may lodge in your cat’s fur may also cause allergies.

Allergy Symptoms

Cat dander may cause reactions including:

  • Sneezing
  • Skin irritation
  • Runny eyes and nose
  • Itchy eyes
  • Swelling of fingers, feet or face and throat
  • Panting
  • Coughing and sore throat

The cat dander allergy symptoms are experienced when you inhale dander particles or are in an environment that contains a lot of cat dander. However, you may experience the same symptoms if you are allergic to something else, so a proper diagnosis is necessary.

Blood Testing to Determine Cat Dander as Allergen

Blood testing can be used to determine whether your allergies are caused by cat dander or not.

There are two main tests that can determine the presence of a specific cat dander antigen confirming the source of allergies:

  • The radioallergosorbent test (RAST)
  • The ELISA (enzyme linked immunoassay test)

Both tests are currently used, but the radioallergosorbent test can give more accurate results.

Skin Testing to Determine Cat Dander Allergies

Skin or intradermal testing is more a accurate analysis than blood tests for determining allergies.

If you believe you are allergic to cat dander, the skin testing will consist of the shot of a small quantity of allergen under your skin. Your doctor may inject other common allergens (i.e. dust or pollen), to check if you develop allergies to other substances.

3 to 5 hours after the injection, you should have a slight irritation in the square of skin injected with the glycoprotein Fel d1. If you don’t develop an allergic reaction, the result of the test is negative for cat dander, so you need further testing to determine the real cause for your symptoms.

Treatment Options for Allergies to Cat Dander

The treatment of allergies may include immunity booster supplements; the immune system needs to be strengthened, so as not to develop allergic symptoms.

Allergy shots can fully cure cat dander allergies, but should be administered over a long period of time before they start to reduce the allergic reactions.

Antihistamines or steroids may also manage your symptoms, but should only be considered as short term drugs, due to the various side effects.

Meanwhile, you can vacuum your home to eliminate the cat dander and keep your cat clean.