Think you might have an allergy to cats, but not totally sure? Take this 2-minute questionnaire to determine if you should get an allergy test to officially diagnose your allergies!
What Is a Cat Allergy?
Cat allergy refers to the immune system's reaction to cat allergens, or the proteins found in a cat’s dander, saliva, and urine. The hair that cats shed while grooming themselves can also contain these cat allergens.
The cat proteins are too small and lightweight to be seen by the naked eye, so it’s nearly impossible to avoid them altogether when exposed to a cat. When cat allergens are released into the air, they can quickly spread to other surfaces.
Just like exposure to general pet allergens, cat allergens can trigger an immune response. Your immune system will recognize cat proteins as foreign invaders, producing an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE antibodies). The antibodies lead to the release of histamines. This defense response can lead to cat allergy symptoms like sneezing, coughing, and skin rashes.
Risk Factors for Cat Allergies
Although cat allergies can affect anyone at any age, certain risk factors may increase your chances of being allergic to cats. The factors include:
- Genetics: If cat allergies run in your family, you’re more likely to have a cat allergy.
- Frequent cat contact: The more time you spend around cats, the higher the risk of cat allergens entering your body and triggering an allergic reaction.
- Asthma: If you have pre-existing conditions like asthma, cat allergens are more likely to trigger an immune response.
Cat Allergy Symptoms
When you are allergic to cats, the symptoms you can experience are similar to the symptoms of other environmental allergens. You might experience the symptoms immediately or within a few minutes of exposure to cat dander, saliva, or urine.
The allergy symptoms will range from mild to severe depending on your allergens level or hypersensitivity. Depending on the severity of your allergies, cat allergies can lead to:
- Skin redness
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Hives or other skin rashes
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
If you are asthmatic, cat allergies can worsen your asthma symptoms and increase your asthma attack risk.
You can develop these allergic reactions even if you don't own a cat. Cat allergens can travel through people’s clothes, hair, or other cat owners. These cat allergens can also be present in cat cafes, pet stores, and other places with cats.
How to Know if You Are Allergic to Cats
If you are allergic to cats, you may experience symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, or itchy eyes when you are close to cat allergens. These allergens can come from various sources, including cat saliva, dander, and urine.
Your symptoms will most likely worsen if you're close to a cat. However, you can also have an allergic reaction if you enter a household that has a cat, even when the cat is not physically present.
While you might be able to notice your symptoms getting worse around cats, several indoor allergens can cause the same symptoms. Seasonal allergies can also cause similar symptoms. It is important to take an allergy test to identify exactly what you are allergic to. An allergy test will help you find a treatment plan that will work best for your specific allergies.
At Wyndly, our at-home allergy test is easy and convenient to take. Traditional allergy tests require going to a doctor’s office and getting uncomfortable skin pricks to determine what you are allergic to. Instead, our test only requires a quick finger prick and can be done from the comfort of your home!
How to Test For Cat Allergy At Home
If you suspect you are allergic to cats and are looking for a quick and convenient way to test, you might wonder how to test for cat allergies at home. Fortunately, you can conveniently complete a test for cat allergy using an at-home allergy test from Wyndly. The test requires you to follow these simple steps:
- Make an online request for Wyndly’s at-home test kit. Our test kits are CLIA-certified, and we will ship them straight to your door.
- Take the allergy test and send the sample back to us via mail. Once you get the kit, take an easy finger-prick test and send your sample back to us in the provided envelope.
- Get your allergy profile. Our doctors will review your test results and interpret your allergy profile. The doctors will use this profile to create a personalized treatment plan for you.
Best Cat Allergy Treatments
Once you know that cat allergies cause your symptoms, you can use various treatment options to reduce the severity of the reactions. Some of the most effective treatments include:
One of the easiest cat allergy treatments is to limit cat exposure. This can include avoiding cat owners, pet cafes, pet stores, and other places that have cats. Also, avoid petting or touching cats if you are allergic to them.
If you are a cat allergy sufferer and don’t have an effective treatment plan in place, it's best to avoid owning a cat. If a friend brings a cat to your home, clean the cat dander from your house or car. One way to do this is to use a high-efficiency vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, which will capture cat dander and other microscopic particles.
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications are another cat allergy treatment option. These include antihistamines, anti-inflammatory drugs, and decongestants. While OTC medications can be effective, they only provide short-term relief.
Antihistamines work by temporarily blocking the action of histamine, a compound released by your immune system in response to cat allergens. It can reduce symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and watery eyes. Decongestants can help the swollen tissues in your nasal passages shrink, making breathing easier.
If OTC medications don’t provide enough relief, or if you want to own a cat, sublingual immunotherapy is the best treatment for long-term relief. Sublingual immunotherapy involves administering small doses of allergens under the tongue through allergy tablets or allergy drops.
The treatment works by gradually desensitizing your immune system to your allergies until you stop reacting to them. The main advantage of this sublingual immunotherapy is that it’s long-lasting and causes long-term changes to your immune system. This results in a life free from allergy symptoms.
Take Our Allergy Assessment
If you suffer from cat allergies or other types of allergies and want a long-term solution, sublingual immunotherapy might be right for you. At Wyndly, our doctors will work with you to identify exactly what you are allergic to and create a personalized treatment plan for your allergies.
Take our quick online assessment to see how Wyndly can help you live free from your allergies!