Since cats are so popular in our homes it’s no surprise just how many of us suffer from allergy symptoms and seek relief via medication and other means. It’s estimated that cat allergies account for 17 million doctor visits each year in the U.S., and is quite common in school aged children. So what exactly causes this allergy?
It is your body’s job to fight off any unwanted foreign substances as a line of defense against certain diseases, but sometimes allergens can cause this reaction as well. People who are very allergic to cats will experience their body’s reaction whenever they come into contact with these animals.
What happens is cats secrete certain fluids and dander that contain a protein called Fel d 1, found mostly in the cat’s skin and saliva. This secretion ends up on the cat’s fur, then becomes airborne before ending up on various items in your home. And since cat allergens are quite small they can remain in the air for a long time. It’s easy for these allergens to travel around quickly, moving from the air to your skin until you breathe them in.
What Are The Basic Symptoms Of Cat Allergies?
Should you be allergic to cats and come into contact with the allergens that this animal secretes, there are a number of reactions your body can have. You will experience any number of symptoms ranging from mild to severe depending on just how allergic you are.
The common symptoms include red and itchy eyes, coughing, sore throat, sneezing, and nasal congestion. However, you can experience a more severe reaction like tightness in your chest, difficulty breathing, or very pronounced rashes on the face and upper body. Over time, cat allergies can also cause chronic asthma.
I Love My Cat But I Am Allergic, Can We Co-Exist?
Just because you have cat allergies doesn’t mean you need to get rid of your favorite pet. Sure that would be a good cure to your problem but it is not the only one. Should you choose to keep him in your home you will need to do some things to limit your reaction to his secretions.
Taking Preventative Measures
Don’t let your cat sleep on your bed, especially when your symptoms are really flaring up. Wash all of your bedding a minimum of twice per month. This will eliminate cat dander and dust mites from bothering you when you are sleeping.
Vacuum your home frequently with a HEPA filter equipped vacuum cleaner. Try to clean your carpets, furniture, stairs, and any other thing your cat lays on.
Use a HEPA air purifier to help provide relief from your allergy symptoms. They are great at removing allergens from the air in your home.
Wash your hands immediately after touching your cat, especially before touching any part of your face. You should periodically clean your cat with a micro fiber cloth to get rid of the loose dander that sits on his skin. Talk to your doctor about medication like Benadryl™ or Claritin™ to ease your symptoms. While these are not a long term remedy, they can provide much needed relief when your symptoms are really bothering you the most.
One other important thing to know about allergies is that they are cumulative in their effect on your body. What this means is everything you are allergic to including dust mites, mold, pollen, and cats will all add to your reaction. There may be more than one allergen at work at any given time making your symptoms act up. In this case you would need to find relief from more than one allergy source.
Cats are everywhere in our society so it is no surprise that so many people suffer from cat allergies. If you suspect you are allergic to cats you should have your doctor or allergist perform a simple test. They can also provide more information on how people just like you live happily alongside their favorite felines, while experiencing only occasional mild symptoms. With a little knowledge about what is causing your body’s reaction, you can reduce your future reactions to a once in a while event.