Allergies of all types are on the increase, especially among children, so it is not unusual to find that someone who is a family member or friend has an allergic reaction when they come near your cat. When this occurs, particularly if the symptoms are acute, the first thought often is to find a new home for the cat. Yet it may be possible to alleviate the symptoms and keep the cat that is a well-loved member of your household.
Allergic reactions to cats are becoming more commonplace. If anyone in the household suffers from allergies, test their reactions in the presence of cats before you consider getting a kitten.
Testing for cat allergy is relatively easy when the individual has a reaction after handling the cat. Such a reaction may include itchy skin and eyes, sneezing and difficulty in breathing. In cases where it is uncertain whether the cat is causing the problem you will have to seek help from your family doctor or a qualified complementary therapist such as a kinesiologist. Applied kinesiology practitioners test for allergens by placing the suspect substance on the tongue and testing the strength of muscles around the body. Weak muscles may indicate the substance tested is the allergen. The more conventional test for nonfood substances is the skin, or patch test.
Some people have quite bad reactions to cats, resulting in eczema-like symptoms or asthmatic attacks: others are mildly sensitised and will experience only minor irritations, such as a faint rash and itchy eyes. In the latter case, prolonged exposure to a particular cat may desensitise them, and they may not experience further symptoms until they meet a strange cat.
ALLEVIATING THE PROBLEM
Obviously, if someone who shares your home with you and your cat has a strong adverse reaction to the cat, such as severe asthma, the only solution will be to find a good home for the cat – preferably one where you can visit it occasionally. For this reason, before you introduce a cat to any household you should check that no members of the family suffer from such adverse reactions by spending some time visiting friends who have cats.
But, if the reaction is not too severe, or only develops slowly, there may be other solutions to the problem.
You may be able to suppress the symptoms of the allergy with over-the-counter preparations such as anti-histamines, decongestants, and skin creams, but this is not advisable over long periods and in any case you should consult the chemist when choosing this method. However, it may be a
Sadly, asthma and allergic reaction to cats and other pets are becoming more common. Children who suffer from severe asthma have to carry pumps which contain chemicals to help them breathe when they have an attack.solution for someone visiting for a short period. They can also, of course, avoid the cat altogether. This may be more effective if you thoroughly dust and vacuum the house before their arrival in an effort to rid the rooms of cat hair. Complementary or alternative therapies may also offer some relief, particularly homeopathy. But this problem, as far as cats are concerned, could soon be a thing of the past as scientists in the USA are close to developing a vaccine against these allergies.
An allergic reaction occurs when the body’s immune system, designed to protect the body from harmful substances, reacts abnormally to substances that are normally harmless. It then produces antibodies which are usually only formed to fight off foreign objects entering the body. These antibodies prompt the release of histamine. It is the histamine that causes the symptoms of an allergy.
Desensitisation involves exposing the body to the substance causing the allergy under controlled conditions. The amount of the substance released is small at first but is gradually increased. It is more likely to be successful if only one or two allergens are involved.
Most allergic reactions are caused by a protein in the cat’s saliva. Sponging a cat after self-grooming removes the saliva and may cut down the symptoms.