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What To Do If Allergic To Cats

What Is Contact Allergy And How Is It Treated

How To Have A Cat When You’re Allergic

Contact allergies are the least common of the four types of allergies in cats.

“They result in a local reaction on the skin from contact with an allergic substance.”

They result in a local reaction on the skin from contact with an allergic substance. Examples of contact allergy include reactions to shampoos, flea collars, or certain types of bedding, such as wool. If the cat is allergic to such substances, there will be skin irritation and itching at the points of contact. Removal of the contact irritant solves the problem. However, identifying the allergen can be challenging in many cases.

Contributors: Tammy Hunter, DVM Ernest Ward, DVM

Cat Allergen: Its Everywhere

The major culprit in cat allergies is Fel d1, a protein excreted in the cats skin, saliva, and urine. When cats lick themselves, they deposit Fel d1 on their fur. When the cat sheds, the allergens on the hair and dander spread.

And do they ever spread. Fel d1 proteins are small, so they remain suspended in the air. Fel d1 is also sticky, and takes a long time to decompose, Blaiss explains. The proteins cling to surfaces like draperies, carpets, furniture, bedding, clothing, even walls and ceilings.

Because of this, cat allergens are notoriously difficult to remove from a home, even with cleaning and vacuuming. Research has shown that there are cat proteins in almost all U.S. homes, even in homes where there are no cats. In school classrooms, kids can bring in enough Fel d1 on their clothes and backpacks to trigger asthma symptoms in their allergic classmates.

Bathing cats can cut down on Fel d1 in the fur, but only for a day or so. Studies have found female cats produce a lower level of allergens than males, while neutered males produce lower levels than unneutered males but they all produce plenty.

How Do I Get My Cat To Quit Licking All The Time

Excessive licking behaviours, in most cases without a medical diagnosis, necessitate anti-anxiety medicine therapy provided by a veterinarian to stop the licking cycle. 2 Typically, the cat does not need to be on these meds for the rest of its life rather, they are given for a limited time to assist the animal cope with stress.

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Infections Caused By Cats

Allergies are a manifestation of the immune system’s over-reaction to a non-infectious substance. But you can also get an infection due to cat exposure, such as ringworm, or an infection due to a cat scratch.

A parasitic infection caused byToxoplasma gondii is spread by cat feces. This parasite is very dangerous for pregnant women because it can cause birth defects.

Infections caused by cats are different than allergies.

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Allergies To Cats: Symptoms Treatment And Causes

Although our feline friends are so fondly regarded that theyre found in an amazing one third of all households, cats are also the leading driver of pet allergies in the US.

Contrary to popular belief, cat dander and saliva rather than fur are behind most allergies to cats.

Avoiding cats altogether is the best way to minimize symptoms, but even then, there are no guarantees. With more than eighty-five million cats in US homes and nearly as many strays, just being out in public may expose you to enough cat dander so its important to be aware of what you can do about it.

The good news is, if you like spending time around cats, or simply want to get on with your day to day without experiencing symptoms, preventative measures and treatment can help reduce or relieve symptoms.

This might allow you to enjoy Fluffys company again going forward or at least not worry about it.

Consider A Temporary Cat Atrium Or Large Cage

You might also look into the fun idea of a giant cat cage or cat atrium . Just dont leave your cat outside in the sun or cold, and never keep them in there if they are unhappy or distressed. You can find a good cage that is both collapsible, tall, and rolls.

Get a good couch cover.

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Special Care For Your Cat

If you have a cat allergy, there are also several tips you can use on your cat so their production of dander is lower.

For example, you can use a glove brush and rinse it with distilled water, brush it over your cat twice a week.

Though there are several anti-allergy shampoos that are specifically designed for this purpose it’s not recommended to bathe it too often as this will only make the cat’s skin dry and will promote the secretion of more allergens. You can also try commercial anti-allergy sprays, especially if your cat is reluctant to showers.

It’s very important to brush your cat once or twice a week to make sure it doesn’t shed too much hair.

Common Treatment Options For Cat Allergies

How to Control Allergies & Asthma Caused by Cats

One obvious option is for your boyfriend or girlfriend to take allergy medication as you first start dating. The following list includes common recommendations for cat allergies, some of which I have taken and had good luck with:

  • Antihistamines: You might want to try out different allergy meds to see which one is the best for you. Common ones include Benadryl , Claritin which is good for indoor and outdoor allergies, and Allegra , which helps with pet allergies.
  • : Claritin D includes an anti-allergy drug combination/decongestant, Sudafed is a decongestant without the allergy meds , and Benadryl, again, which also helps to dry up mucus and aids in decongestion.
  • Inhaler: If the allergies are really bad and triggering asthma, a prescription inhaler might be necessary this requires a visit to the doctor. Your partner should definitely see a doctor if they are having trouble breathing.
  • Allergy shots: Allergy shots can be performed at the doctors office and will help to reduce allergies without the need to take drugs short-term or long-term.

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Causes Of Dog Allergies

You may have heard that some dog breeds trigger allergy symptoms while others don’t, or that short-haired dogs are safe while long-haired dogs prone to shedding are not. But on the whole, experts say that isn’t the case. In fact, two dogs of the same breed can each give off very different levels of allergen.

It’s not the dog’s hair or fur that’s the real problem. Instead, people are usually allergic to the dander — flakes of dead skin — as well as the saliva and urine. So, no matter how long or short the hair, any dog can potentially cause an allergic reaction.

You might wonder why dog dander has such an effect on you. People with allergies have oversensitive immune systems. Their bodies overreact to harmless substances — like dog dander — and attack it as they would bacteria or viruses. The sneezing and watery eyes are just the side effects of the body’s attempt to destroy or flush out the allergen.

Keep Your Cats Favorite Sleeping Spots Off

Felines are creatures of habit and usually have a couple of favorite spots where they groom the most, right before taking a nice nap. When cats groom, they transfer allergens from their saliva to their skin, which dries and creates dander that can settle on fabric or become airborne.

Needless to say, if youre allergic, your cats nap area of choice is not the best place for you to lounge. Throw a washable blanket over her favorite sleeping spots to easily clean away the allergens. Another strategy: Make the cats bedroom the same room you used to transition her when you brought her home, says Kate Stryker, a Siberian cat breeder from Buffalo, New York.

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Can You Become Allergic To Your Cat If You Werent Before

Most allergies occur in childhood or as a teenager if youve previously lived with a cat in your family and didnt display allergy symptoms, it is likely that youll be fine as an adult. However, in rare cases, there is a chance that adults who lived with cats as children can develop allergy symptoms.

Sometimes, when someone has lived with an allergen for a prolonged period , they become tolerant to that particular pet. Then, when they are re-exposed to a different cat as an adult, they develop symptoms.

While this is rare, this can explain why some people feel that their allergy symptoms come on quickly with no notice. In addition, different cats produce different levels of allergen, meaning humans can be more or less sensitive to different cats. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to manage your cat allergy symptoms.

Current Cat Allergy Treatments

Cats with Allergies

If avoiding cats isnt possible, or you just really, really want a cat despite an allergy, Blaiss recommends at a minimum to never allow the cat inside your bedroom, where you spend about eight hours a day.

Products such as antihistamines, nasal steroids and asthma medications can provide some relief. But medications treat symptoms, not the cat allergy itself. To do that, you need immunotherapy, which is given as shots in an allergists office.

Immunotherapy retrains the immune system to tolerate more cat protein without reacting. Typically, patients go to an allergists office for weekly injections with small amounts of cat protein during a buildup phase that lasts for several months. Thats followed by monthly maintenance injections for three to five years.

Research shows that cat immunotherapy can reduce symptoms in many people, and that the results last. But some people react to the injections, while others quit because of the inconvenience of as many as 80 injections in all.

A lot of people quit before three years. There really is a need to get the duration of it down, says Dr. Harold Nelson, an allergist at National Jewish Health in Denver.

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How Is Atopy Treated

Treatment depends largely on the length of the cat’s allergy season. It involves one of two approaches:

  • The first approach involves the use of corticosteroids , as well as improving the health of the hair and skin coat using spot-ons, sprays and/or shampoos. Steroids will dramatically block the allergic reaction in most cases and bring about rapid improvement in the cat’s clinical signs. Steroids may be given orally or by injection, depending on the cat’s condition. If steroids are appropriate for your cat, you will be instructed in their proper use.
  • Treatment with antihistamines and essential fatty acids is variable. Some cats respond well to a particular antihistamine , while others are ineffective. It is important to understand that it can take up to 7-10 days before antihistamines become effective, therefore they are often infective in sudden flare-ups. Likewise, essential fatty acids are similarly ineffective during sudden episodes because they require several weeks to take effect. Cats predisposed to atopic dermatitis should be tried on fatty acid supplements to see if they help lessen future flare-ups and clinical signs.

Any cat suspected of having atopic dermatitis should also be considered for a hypoallergenic food trial. Many cats with atopic dermatitis are also allergic to an ingredient in their food, making diagnosis and treatment more challenging. As previously mentioned, this food trial should last 8 to 12 weeks in most cases.

Causes Of Allergies In Cats

There are many things that cats can be allergic to and most are readily found in and around our homes. In some situations, this can make it difficult to eliminate the cause of a cat’s allergies.

  • Pollens: Tree, dust, grass, weed, mold, and mildew pollens can all cause allergies in cats. These environmental allergens are difficult to control.
  • Food: Food allergies are the third most common type of allergies in cats. There are many types of food that a cat can be allergic to but animal proteins such as chicken, beef, dairy, fish, and eggs are the most common culprits.
  • Fleas: A common cause of allergy in cats, flea bites cause cats to have irritating allergic reactions including hair loss, redness, and itching. Even indoor only cats can have fleas.
  • Medications: Cats can be allergic to flea medication, shampoos, and other medications.
  • Cleaning products: Detergents, floor cleaners, and disinfecting sprays can all cause allergies in cats.
  • Perfume: Strong perfumes and colognes can be irritating in their own right but some cats actually have allergies to them. Inhaled allergens are common causes of allergies in cats.
  • Smoke: Just like other inhalants, some cats are allergic to cigarette and other types of smoke.
  • Various surfaces: Fabrics, rubbers, and plastics are all types of surfaces that a cat can be allergic to. Some beds, food dishes, and floor mats may be problems for cats that have allergies to these specific surfaces.

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Vaccines And Gene Editing Are On The Horizon

Saiba Animal Health, a Swiss company initially known as HypoPet, is taking a very different approach. It is working on a vaccine that turns the cats immune system against Fel d 1 proteins. The companys research has shown the experimental HypoCat vaccine lowered Fel d 1 in cat tears and reduced symptoms in 10 allergic cat owners.

Saiba also hopes to produce a vaccine for dogs.

Kornreich said one worry with this type of vaccine is an errant immune reaction. Theres always a concern that that the immune system can be stimulated to start neutralizing things that are not the target of interest, he said.

As for the genetic approach, Brackett, at Indoor Biotechnologies, achieved 55% efficiency in knocking out Fel d 1 in a cat cell line. That is a good rate, she and Chapman said. Cat cells are notoriously difficult to work with, Brackett said.

The next step will be to see whether they can reduce the allergen in cat salivary glands. Then will come the really hard part: figuring how to deliver the genetic treatment to embryos or adult cats. Theyll be keeping an eye on techniques that other CRISPR researchers test.

It does seem to be that there is a significant roadblock for CRISPR at the moment, Chapman said.

Maintaining An Optimal Environment

Testing How Allergic I am to CATS
  • 1Keep your cat out of your bedroom. You likely spend at least a third of your day in your bedroom sleeping. By keeping your cat out of your room, you will greatly reduce your overall exposure to cat allergens. Keep the door to your bedroom shut when you are gone, and ensure that your cats toys and food are located elsewhere in the house.XResearch source
  • 2Consider a HEPA filter. HEPA filters are high-powered air-particle filters that can remove microscopic pet dander from the air. Place HEPA filters in the rooms you spend the most time in at home, such as your bedroom or home office, to reduce your exposure to allergens. Most HEPA filters are rated to clean a certain number of cubic feet . Aim to buy a HEPA filter the filtering capacity of which matches the size of your room.XExpert Source
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    Why Cleaning Is So Important When It Comes To Pet Allergies

    Only having your pets in areas with hard floors and furniture though it may tug at your heartstrings at times will make it easier for you to clean, which Dr. Hong says you should do often. She also suggests using a damp cloth or using damp floor wipers to make sure those surfaces are as clean as possible. And for those areas where you have a carpet or rug, vacuum frequently.

    Air filters can also be helpful to limit the spread and exposure to those proteins. Dr. Hong notes that she has several patients that abide the no pets in the bedroom policy and still place air filters there to help keep the air as clean and clear as possible.

    But the extra cleaning should also extend to your pets, says Dr. Hong. If you can, bathe your pets regularly to help keep the protein-impacted dander to a minimum. That also goes for brushing your pets fur to keep excess fur to a minimum. Just remember to brush them outside so none of the fur or dander lingers in your house.

    And if your pet, particularly dogs, go outside a lot, its best to wipe them down when they come in. If you have pollen allergies, your pet can get covered in it when they go outside, says Dr. Hong. When they come inside, theyll be bringing all that pollen with them. So if you wipe them down before they come in, you can at least keep them from bringing too much into your home.

    Get Rid Of Rugs And Carpets

    Even with regular vacuuming, rugs and carpets can harbor cat dander and contribute to allergy attacks. Rolling up rugs can be an immediate solution, and replacing carpets with options like hardwood, laminate or tile will cut down on the amount of dander in your home more permanently. If youre attached to soft flooring, try sticking to area rugs and having them cleaned on a regular basis. That way cat dander wont have an opportunity to build up too much in the carpet fibers.

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