Cats are the second most popular pet in the United States, which means millions of American households have one or more felines. The popularity of cats is booming. While that’s great for pets and their people, it means the number of those discovering they suffer from a cat allergy is also on the rise.
Did you know that 10% of Americans have general pet allergies? Did you know that cat allergies occur about twice as often as dog allergies? If you’re a cat owner or hope to become one soon, you don’t have to feel discouraged.
While there are no true hypoallergenic cats, some cats cause fewer allergies than others. Choosing one of these so-called hypoallergenic cats may reduce your allergic reaction. If you already have a feline friend, allergy treatments are available that provide long-lasting relief from cat allergy symptoms.
Cat allergy symptoms and causes
Your immune system is designed to keep you safe from harmful bacteria, viruses, and microbes. But in some people, it becomes overactive and recognizes harmless microbes as dangerous ones. When you have a cat allergy, your body overreacts to cat dander and saliva.
Common symptoms of cat allergies include:
Swelling and itching
Cat allergies can affect the nose and eye membranes resulting in eye inflammation or a stuffy nose.
If you have a cat allergy, you may experience a rash on the neck, upper chest, or face. Your skin may look red and feel itchy. Symptoms can also appear on your hands and feet.
One of the most common symptoms of a cat allergy is sneezing. Sneezing may occur alone or in conjunction with other cat allergy symptoms.
Wheezing and coughing
For some, a cat allergy causes tightness or shortness of breath. These symptoms can transform into an ongoing, lingering cough.
When allergies go untreated, you may experience a lack of energy or lethargy. If your fatigue becomes persistent or is accompanied by flu-like symptoms, talk to your doctor.
What causes a cat allergy?
The main cat allergy trigger is a harmless protein found in cat saliva, skin cells, and urine. Called Fel d 1, this protein is extremely small and light (even smaller than dust mites).
Its minuscule size makes it different from other allergens, as it hangs in the air longer than other particles. It’s also stickier and easily attaches to human skin, clothes, and furniture. And because cats spread Fel d 1 every time they lick their fur, it spreads quickly and effectively.
You should know that male cats produce more allergy-causing proteins than females, with non-neutered males releasing the most. Lower the chance of having a reaction by neutering your male cats. Kittens produce less Fel d 1 than adult cats and are not good indicators of confirming the absence of a cat allergy.
If you think you or your child has a cat allergy and want to be prepared before bringing a kitten home, order our at-home allergy testing kit. The test is easy, reliable, and can identify 40 of the most common environmental allergies, including cats. What’s more, you can get a personalized treatment plan, detailing how you can live allergy free!
Hypoallergenic cat breeds
Many owners seek hypoallergenic cats to prevent symptoms, but there are no hypoallergenic cats, just as there are no hypoallergenic dogs. Every cat has Fel d 1 in its skin, saliva, and urine. However, certain breeds produce less protein, reducing your risk of reaction.
Some of the more popular hypoallergenic cat breeds include:
Javanese cats have medium to long coats. Because they don’t have an undercoat, their hair doesn't mat, they shed less, and have fewer protein allergens.
The Balinese cat breed has long, fluffy coats, but they produce less Fel d 1 than the standard feline. They also shed less.
At first glance, this breed appears naked, but Cornish Rexes have fine hairs that cover their bodies. Though their fine hair means fewer allergens, it can lead to excess oil buildup on their skin. This breed needs regular baths to keep buildup to a minimum.
Oriental Shorthairs have very short coats. Although they require regular grooming, they do have a reduced amount of dander and, therefore, will likely cause fewer allergies.
How to find relief from your cat allergy
Choosing a hypoallergenic cat breed is a good start, but it’s not guaranteed to stop your cat allergy symptoms. To find long-term allergy relief, you need immunotherapy. Allergy immunotherapy is the only research-proven method to actually reduce allergies, not just treat your symptoms. It works by exposing your immune system to trace amounts of allergens through allergy drops. Over time, your immune system builds a tolerance and stops reacting.
At Wyndly, our allergy specialists are here to help you 24/7 with all your allergy needs. Schedule your consultation today and be one step closer to eliminating your allergies for good!
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