General Health Friday January 6, 2012

Coping with cat allergies without firing your feline

It can be really upsetting if you are allergic to pets, especially if you are a pet lover and it’s one of your own. One of the most common pet allergies is those to cats, in fact, this type of allergy is twice as common as those to dogs. Contrary to what many people believe, what gives your pet it's allergen properties isn't its fur, but the dander or skin sells constantly shed by your pet. It’s not entirely clear exactly what compound contained by dander causes an allergic reaction, but for some reason these cells cause an immune reaction in those with cat or pet allergies. It’s also possible that cat urine and saliva can be allergens.

Classic cat allergy symptoms

People, who are allergic to cats, may experience itchy and watery eyes, sinus problems and sneezing. These symptoms usually start pretty soon after you’ve entered an area close in proximity to a pet. This is usually the way people are able to distinguish pet allergies from allergies to dust mites or other household allergens. However, pet dander can be extremely small and can stay airborne for hours after a pet has left an area.

If you aren’t sure what’s causing your symptoms, it might be worth doing an allergy test to ensure that you know which environmental factors you need to deal with, as you may not have to get rid of your pet or change the way you handle it.

How can an allergic reaction be avoided?

For many pet lovers, it’s almost unthinkable to consider getting rid of their pets and it doesn’t have to be the first port of call, providing the allergy isn’t too severe. There are many things that you could do to minimise your allergic reaction to your cat.

What originally inspired me to write this blog was an article I read reporting on research about cat allergies. According to the research by the Allergy and Asthma Care Center in Gainesville, cat allergies were more more common in people who didn’t have a feline pet as a child. So it is possible that early exposure to cats could be helpful in preventing a person from having to deal with an allergy later in life.

If you already have a sensitivity to cat dander, you can try limiting where your cat moves around the house, so that it doesn’t enter the bedroom or sleep in your bed at night, the researchers from the above mentioned study, found that people were more likely to develop a sensitivity to cat dander if a cat slept indoors. If your cat can stay outdoors, you could let it stay outside and if it needs to enter the house, simply limit its access.

You could also choose to speak to your doctor about taking tablets to limit your immune reaction, so that should you be exposed, you are prepared.

You also have the additional option of covering your cat’s coat with, which can reduce the amount of allergens being released from the cat’s skin. However, these products may not work for everybody. Grooming your pet less, may possibly reduce the amount of dander released.

Other than things you could do to your cat, you could also choose to remove dander from your house, by cleaning surfaces and floors regularly and air your house regularly.

Hypoallergenic cats

There are no known pets that produce pet dander that don’t contain allergens, however it is thought that male cats produce more of a specific allergens than others. Even cats bread without fur is likely to shed skin cells that could cause an allergic reaction.

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