Cats Allergy Risk for Adults, Children - Ban Cats from Your Bedroom


Are you thinking of getting a cat as a pet? Are you or your kids tempted by cute kittens in the pet shop? New research warns that if you have asthma or other allergies you are highly likely to develop an immune reaction to your new pet cat, especially if you allow it into your bedroom. It is estimated that about 10% of people have pet allergies, and cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies.

About 30% of people show allergies to cats in US and Europe. Many people are unaware of there allergies as the symptoms are shared with general allergies and resemble those of a persistent cold and winter sniffles. Adults who get cats as pets are twice as likely to develop allergies. This article discusses the risks of cat allergies in adults and how to prevent and cope with allergen sources and exposure, symptoms and treatment.

Symptoms and Causes of Cat Allergies

Cats trigger severe allergic reactions in many people. Learn how to cope with cat allergies
Cats trigger severe allergic reactions in many people. Learn how to cope with cat allergies
Cats are cute but can trigger severe allergic reactions in many people
Cats are cute but can trigger severe allergic reactions in many people
       Source: RK bogusz1 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons



The allergic response to cats is not to the fur but to the proteins in the cat's dander (dried flakes of skin), saliva and urine. Cat allergies can develop regardless of the hair length, breed or the relative amount of fur the cat sheds. Cats allowed outside may bring in mold, pollen and other allergens on their fur. So if you have signs of cat allergies in the family or history of other allergies, getting a pet cat may not be a good idea.

Preventing cat allergies is a matter of being aware of the dangers and sources of cat dander
Preventing cat allergies is a matter of being aware of the dangers and sources of cat dander
       Source: Guylaine Brunet [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Symptoms of cat allergies can include:

The time taken to might develop the symptoms can vary widely from a few minutes to hours and the severity of the symptoms also varies. These symptoms are very common and can be shared by many other ailments. If you suspect a cat allergy see your doctor who can conduct a skin or blood test to confirm it, but allergy tests are not always correct.

Cute cats can cause not so cute allergy symptoms
Cute cats can cause not so cute allergy symptoms
       Source: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Research on Cat Allergy Risk in Adults

A research study of more than 6292 adult European adults examined the development of cat allergies from pet cats. The study published in theJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunologyexamined blood samples taken twice over nine years. At the start, none of the subjects had antibodies to cats.

Of the 6292 adults in the study, about 70% did not show cat allergies, 8% had a cat only at the start or the nine years, 10% acquired a pet cat and 11% had a cat at the start and at the end of the study evaluations. A total of 231 subjects (3.7%) became sensitized to cat during the 9 years. Acquiring a cat during the study period was significantly linked with development of cat sensitization. Pre-existing sensitization to other allergens, such as nasal allergies, a history of asthma, and eczema increased the risk for developing cat sensitization. Cat ownership in childhood was shown to provide protection and reduced the risk of sensitization.

If you suspect you have cat allergies get yourself tested to confirm the cause. Once identified you can take preventative measures.
If you suspect you have cat allergies get yourself tested to confirm the cause. Once identified you can take preventative measures.
       Source: Guylaine Brunet [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Summary of Major Findings:

Conclusion

Acquiring a cat in adulthood almost doubles the likelihood of developing cat sensitization. Adult should think carefully about acquiring cats as pets, especially if the adults and other family members are sensitized to other allergens and have an established a history of allergic diseases, especially asthma and eczema.

How to Control and Treat Cat Allergies

Cat allergies can usually be treated with standard allergy drugs such as antihistamines, decongestant, and prescription steroids that are common treatment for allergies.

Preventing any allergy is problematic. Various studies have demonstrated that exposure to pets early in life helps reduce the risk of developing pet allergies. But some children with pet cats shown no symptoms until they become adults. A child who is prone to allergies may get worse with exposure to a pet cat.

How to Avoid Cats and Exposure to Their Dander

=> Don't pat, touch, play with, hug, or kiss cats. This is obvious. Avoid ALL contact with cats ALL of the time. A little contact with cats is not OK.

=> Be careful with visitors and friends who own cats. Be sensitive in explaining the situation with them, but cat owners can bring dander with them on their clothing and in their luggage. Even this indirect exposure to dander can cause allergy symptoms to develop on some people. Get your guests to leave their coats in the hallway.

If you plan to stay in a friend's house with cats do some preparation.

=> Explain the situation with your host and ask that the cat be excluded out from the room in which you will sleep for several days after cleaning before you arrive.

=> Also start taking your medicine or remedies several days before you arrive. Prevention is always better than trying to treat the symptoms.

=> Ask that the cat be kept outdoors as much as possible, and away from shared spaces.

=> Keep away from the cat and likely sources of dander.

If you have a cat and plan to have a person visit or stay that has a cat allergy, there as several simple precautions you should take:

=> Restrict your cat to sections of the house that will not be used by your guest.

=> Don't permit your cat to roam freely through the house.

=> Thoroughly clean the bedroom and living area, several times and keep the cat out of these rooms and areas.

=> Clean thoroughly several times. Cat dander is very invasive gets everywhere. Sweep, vacuum and mop all the floors, including under beds and bedroom furniture vacuum the rugs, the upholstery and furniture regularly.

=> Make sure you use a HEPA filter on your vacuum cleaner, otherwise you risk blowing fine allergen particles all over the place, because regular filters may not be fine enough to catch allergens.

=> Temporarily remove rugs and clean carpets and drapes carefully and thoroughly.

=> Install air filters if possible to prevent cat dander from blowing through the house.