What could be nicer than selecting a cute kitten to take home and adore? Kittens are almost always gorgeous and, with a little love can turn into fantastic pets.
Unfortunately, for many people the reality is very different! Once you get them home you discover that you are allergic to cats; your dilemma is then whether you can keep your adorable new pet or not!
What is a Cat Allergy?
Put simply, it is when you develop cold like symptoms whenever you are near a cat. There are, in fact, a range of symptoms associated with being allergic to cats.
Cat allergies are not caused by the fur on your cat; getting a hairless cat will not relieve the issue! You may have heard of the term ‘pet dander’; it is the protein in this, your cat’s urine and their saliva that you are actually allergic to.
No matter how clean you try to keep your home, even if you select the best vacuum for pet hair, there will be traces of these proteins in your home.
This is because they are microscopic; you need a microscope to see them!
When your immune system is extremely sensitive your body is more likely to see harmless items as a threat.
In the case of being allergic to cats, as soon as your body becomes aware of the proteins it will attack them as it feels the need to protect itself.
A side effect of this defense is the development of a range of symptoms.
It is the same as any other form of allergic reaction and can make you feel quite poorly. Your treatment will depend upon the severity of the condition.
Know the Symptoms When You are Allergic to Cats
You may not display all of the following symptoms but they are all possible when you are allergic to cats:
- Permanent Cold Everyone develops a cold from time to time; no matter how strong your immune system is.However, if you find that you have developed a permanent cold since the arrival of your new friend then it is likely to be a symptom of your cat allergy.You will be likely to suffer from coughing, a runny nose and you may even develop a wheeze; this will indicate your airways are being restricted.
- Rash A common symptom for many allergies is the development of a rash on your skin. This is often most visible on your chest or face although it can appear anywhere on your body.
- Red Skin If you have been bitten or accidentally scratched by your playful kitten it is likely that the allergen has been transmitted directly into your skin. The result will be a red area. This may become itchy although scratching should be avoided as this will help to spread the allergen.
- Itchy Eyes Another common symptom that you are allergic to cats is red eyes. This is something you may mistakenly associate with hay fever.You will probably look like you have been crying. However, your eyes will also feel itchy and this can be one of the hardest symptoms to live with.It is important to note that the symptoms may appear within moments of contact with the cat; or they may not develop until several hours later. This can make it more difficult to pinpoint the issue.
- Asthma Attack It is estimated that as many as 30% of people who suffer from asthma will be allergic to cats. It is common for the allergy to trigger a severe asthma attack.Doctor’s can test to see if you are allergic to cats.However, this blood test is not always accurate. You may be advised to remove the cat from your home for several months to confirm if it is the source of the problem.
4 Tips to Reduce your Allergy
If you love your kitten or cat then it is likely that you, along with many other people, will simply choose to ignore the symptoms and live with the issue. Fortunately, getting rid of your beloved cat is not the only way to deal with being allergic to cats!
- Reduce the exposure The first step to reducing your allergic reaction is to limit the amount of allergens in your home. This is easier said than done considering the size of the allergens! Regular vacuuming and cleaning with anti-static clothes will help to ensure you pick up as much of your cat dander as possible.
- Antihistamines It is possible to take an antihistamine which does not induce drowsiness. However, whilst this may be useful for occasional incidents, it is not necessary a good idea to take this medication in the long term. You may become dependent on it or develop a resistance to it!
- Washing Hands You should never underestimate the importance of keeping your hands clean! You simply need to tickle your cat or kitten as you walk by and then rub your eye a moment later; the result will be allergens directly into your eye!By getting into the habit of washing your hands regularly you can eliminate much of the contact and reduce your reaction.The best thing about this is that you can continue to stroke your cat when you want, just wash your hands afterwards!
- HEPA Air filterThe HEPA air filter is recognized as being able to remove 99.97% of all particles in the air. This will greatly reduce your exposure to allergens; including cat ones.You can have a filter fitted into your home or use a portable device; which can even be taken with you when staying somewhere else! HEPA air filters are often fitted to vacuum cleaners as they are incredibly effective.
Is it time to get rid of the cat?
If you have just bought a cat and develop the symptoms above then it is likely that you are allergic to cats.
Fortunately, this does not mean the end of your new relationship!
By following the guidelines here you will know whether it is a cat allergy and how to reduce the symptoms; you can keep your cat!