What Causes Allergies to Cats?

If you are allergic to cats, you probably already know that what is causing all your sniffling and sneezing is most likely the cat’s saliva, which gets deposited on their fur during grooming and then dries, turns to dust, and is released into the air with movement. This is why there are no truly 100% hypoallergenic cats, because all kitties lick themselves. Cats are said to be the most allergy-causing pet that we keep indoors.

If you have allergy symptoms but aren’t sure what is causing them, you should rule out other types of allergies before getting rid of your kitty. Having a cat can make other allergies seem worse, but the cat isn’t always the root cause of allergies. Doctors are often too quick to blame household pets for allergies without investigating further.

What are the Symptoms of Cat Allergies?

Cat allergies present themselves as hay fever-like symptoms, as well as in other ways. These are the symptoms of most allergies, so if you are having these symptoms, it is important to get tested for allergies by your doctor so that you treat the proper allergies.

  • Sneezing
  • Red, itchy, watery eyes
  • Nasal congestion
  • Itchy nose
  • Sore, scratchy throat
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Itchy skin

Tips to Ease Cat Allergies

  • Choose shorthaired cats – having less fur to groom means less saliva
  • Female cats produce fewer allergens
  • Invest in a good HEPA filter
  • Use allergen reducing filters on central heat and air units
  • Keep your cat well groomed, including baths – baths reduce allergens by 85%!
  • Allergy wipes and sprays can be used to clean your kitty and keep down dander
  • Don’t allow your cat to sleep or play in your bedroom
  • Restrict your cat to one area of the house
  • Vacuum (including furniture/upholstery) and dust frequently
  • Wash curtains frequently
  • Always wash your hands after handling your cat, making sure not to touch your eyes

Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds?

There is no real scientific proof that any breed is hypoallergenic, meaning they won’t cause allergic reactions. Beware of breeders making grand promises of completely hypoallergenic kittens! The breeds that are said to cause fewer allergies are:

  • Siberian
  • Russian Blue
  • Ragdoll
  • Devon Rex and Cornish Rex
  • Sphynx

How to Test to See if You’re Allergic to Your Cat

If you are thinking of getting a cat or want to know if you’re allergic to your cat, you can test different scenarios and see if your symptoms lessen or worsen. For example, do your allergy symptoms go away when you’re at work and away from the kitty, only to start back up when you walk through the door at home? Have someone babysit your kitty for a week and see if your allergy symptoms lessen at home. Or if you are considering getting a new cat but think you might be allergic, visit friends homes who have cats or offer to foster a rescue kitty for a time.

Living with Cats and Allergies: Tips to Help Allergy Sufferers Coexist Happily with Their Feline