Diagnosing Human Allergies to Cats

Human allergies to cats are common. People are allergic to a protein that is present in the cat dander, saliva and urine. Cat allergies may cause symptoms such as sneezing or itchy skin. The symptoms of cat allergies are manageable.

Diagnosing allergies to cats may be done either by blood or skin testing, and is an important step in finding the right treatment.


The severity of the cat allergy symptoms depend on each person in part. More sensitive people will have more serious symptoms. People with other types of allergies are more likely to develop cat dander allergies as well.

The most common symptoms of cat allergies include:

  • Itchy skin
  • Redness on the skin
  • Watery and itchy eyes
  • Stuffed nose
  • Frequent sneezing
  • Coughing and sore throat
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Swelling of the feet

The symptoms occur after having contact with a cat, but can even manifest if the person comes in contact with areas where the cat has shed dander or saliva.

Skin Testing

Intradermal or skin testing is the most accurate analysis to diagnose cat allergies. If you suspect that you are allergic to cats, let your doctor know. He will inject a small amount of allergen (the glycoprotein Fel d1 present in dander and saliva) under your skin. Alternatively, a patch containing the allergen can be applied to the skin.

If you have an allergic reaction to the injection or the patch, such as urticaria, rashes or even anaphylaxis, this confirms that you are allergic to cats.

If you have no allergic reaction within 6 hours after the test, you must take further tests to identify other allergens.

Blood Testing

Blood testing can be efficient in diagnosing allergies to cats. The radioallergosorbent test (RAST) will determine the presence of specific antibodies in the blood. These antibodies react in the presence of an allergen.

The ELISA (enzyme immunoassay) test is similar to the RAST test and will also detect the presence of specific antibodies.

However, the RAST test is considered more accurate.

Treatment Options

Once you detect that you are allergic to cats, you should get medications such as antihistamines and steroids to manage the symptoms.

Meanwhile, you should start getting allergy shots. The allergy shots will be administered more frequently at first and after 2 or 3 months of treatment, you will get one injection per month.

You will get low amounts of allergens injected and these amounts will be gradually increased. In time, you should have fewer cat allergy symptoms, as you will build immunity to the allergen. The allergy shots are the most effective means of reducing negative reactions to cats.

You can also bathe your cat more frequently, which will reduce the amount of dander that is shed in your home. Groom your cat regularly and use allergy reducing sprays.

Clean your house often to eliminate the dander and cat hair.

Use HEPA air cleaners or other air purifiers.

Unfortunately, hypoallergenic cats do not exist, but you can manage living with your cat even if you have allergies.