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How to Manage Cat Allergies Without Having to Say Goodbye to Your Cat

Posted by Brian Brennan, M.D. on Mar 18, 2020 9:47:01 PM

Awwww cats.  Who doesn’t love their lazy, maybe feisty, or maybe playful kitty cat?

Young Women Holding a CatLike humans, no two cats are alike.  Some cats are skinny, some cats are fat, some have long hair, and others have short hair.  However, none of these things change the fact that cats produce multiple allergens from their fur, skin, saliva, and urine. These allergens are transmitted to the cat’s coat through grooming.

Ultimately, these allergens are shed from the cat’s dander (dried skin cells) and deposited throughout the home.

These particles are very small and sticky. The particles cling to surfaces and can hang in the air for many hours. Therefore, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat.

If your cat has skin, it produces allergen.

So, if you suffer from cat allergies, finding a way to treat your allergies and keep your beloved pet in the home are the top priority of our providers at Dakota Allergy & Asthma!


Symptoms of Cat Allergy

Symptoms of cat allergy, similar to other allergies, are:

  • sneezing
  • runny and stuffy nose
  • watery, itchy, and red eyes


For some people, cat allergy can trigger asthma, which may become severe if their cat exposure is continuous.

About 5 to 10% of people are allergic to cats. Some notice symptoms immediately upon exposure and others may take a few hours before symptoms become noticeable.

If you don’t notice symptoms caused by your own cats, but notice symptoms from exposure to other people’s cats, you are still be allergic to all cats, you’ve just developed a tolerance to the dander caused by your own cats.

Despite this tolerance, your cat allergy is still causing chronic sinus and lung inflammation that may not cause sudden symptoms.

Living with a cat that you’re allergic to may lead to severe or persistent asthma, with decreased lung function.


Does Bathing My Cat Help?

People with cat allergy symptoms sometimes wonder if bathing their cat will help, and the research on this is contradictory, some studies showing benefit and others not. 

However, bathing a cat with shampoo can be counterproductive as it may be drying to the skin, causing more shedding of dander.

If you attempt bathing your cat, tap water alone should suffice to rinse off the accumulated dander. For the majority of cats who will not tolerate immersion in water, wiping them down weekly with a damp bath towel may be beneficial.


What If I Don’t Own A Cat But Am Still Suffering?

Even if you don’t own a cat, because the allergen is sticky, you can be exposed to enough cat allergen to cause symptoms at daycare, school, and work.

Even homes that have no cats can have detectable levels of cat allergen in them.


Seek Help For Your Possible Cat Allergy

If you or someone in the house is allergic to your cat, giving up your beloved pet is not always necessary.

We are happy to work with you to help you decrease your exposure to cat allergen as much as possible.  There are many options we can try, starting with allergy medications, and if avoidance and medications do not provide adequate relief, allergy injections may help.

It’s never too soon to seek help for cat allergies.  One of our three providers is available to help!  Contact Dakota Allergy & Asthma by calling 605-336-6385.


About the Author 

Dr. Brennan is a Board Certified Allergist, trained in all things allergy and asthma. Dr. Brennan also has a strong interest in sinus issues and cat allergies.

Topics: pet allergies, cat allergies, allergic to cat