If you’re one of the many people who decided to adopt or foster a cat from Aggieland Humane Society to keep you company while you stay home, you may have realized that you’re in for more than you bargained for. While the snuggles and headbutts are cute, they may be the source of your allergy symptoms. Below we review everything you need to know in order to understand cat allergies.
What Exactly Causes Symptoms?
Allergies occur when the immune system mistakes harmless substances such as pet dander as a dangerous intruder. In order to fight off the intruder, your immune system releases antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which causes your cells to release histamine. Histamine can increase your mucus production and cause swelling and itching; this is what causes your allergy symptoms.
It’s not just dander from your cat that can trigger symptoms; cats produce numerous allergens, including:
- Dander. These dead skin flakes originate around a cat’s sweat glands. Eventually, often from scratching, these particles are released, float in the air on dust particles and get inhaled.
- Saliva. Cat saliva contain proteins like albumin or Felis domesticus 1 (Fel d 1), which are transferred to the cat’s skin as it grooms itself. The proteins can then be transferred to your skin when you pet your cat, or they can get stuck to dander and be inhaled.
- Urine. Urine also contains Fel d 1, which can trigger asthma symptoms, usually when cleaning the litterbox or if the cat has an accident elsewhere in the house.
What Are the Symptoms of a Cat Allergy?
Symptoms of cat allergies are similar to other types of allergies like hay fever, but are present after being near a cat or in a home where a cat has been recently. Symptoms include:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Sinus congestion
- Persistent cough
- Tightness in chest
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of the face or mouth
It’s also possible to experience anaphylaxis from cats.
How to Reduce Symptoms of a Cat Allergy
The best way to reduce your symptoms is to reduce the amount of allergens in your home. To do this, you can:
- Keep your cat out of your bedroom
- Dust and vacuum at least once a week
- Use a HEPA filter
- Change your clothes and shower after petting the cat
- Bathing the cat once per week (but not more)
- Hiring someone without an allergy to clean the litter box
- Remove wall-to-wall carpeting
- Talk to an allergist
For more information about cat allergies or to schedule an appointment with an allergist, call Texas ENT & Allergy today!