An Allergic Person with a Cat by Their Side: Is It Possible?

Allergy to cats is a huge drama for a fan of purring furballs. To get a runny nose, watery eyes, and cough from being in the same room as cats? Not a very exciting prospect, especially when we’re not talking about one-time visits to a cat home or café, but about sharing living space with a furball every day. No wonder allergy sufferers often question if there are hypoallergenic cat breeds and if it’s possible to combine living with cats and an allergy. Let’s explore the topic together, fabCats.

The Furball Isn’t That Scary…

It’s commonly believed that pet hair is the biggest problem for allergy sufferers. However, it turns out that it’s not the fur, but the protein found, among other places, in cat saliva that causes allergic reactions. Fur is just one method of spreading it. Let’s start from the beginning:

A significant percentage of cat allergies are caused by the protein Fel d1, which is found, among other places, in cat saliva and the sebum secreted by their skin. And since cats are true neat freaks and spend a large part of their day meticulously grooming their fur, they leave their allergens on our clothes, the couch, the armchair, as well as their beds, scratching posts – everywhere a cat’s paw steps. However, the presence of dense, fluffy fur is not necessary as even hairless cats can cause allergies. They also love to groom themselves, and their skin peels and flakes off naturally – the allergens still enter the cat’s environment. Due to the lack of ubiquitous furballs, there will simply be fewer allergens (provided, of course, you don’t have direct contact with the cat, e.g., during petting). It’s also worth adding that Fel d1 is not the only allergenic protein. The second most common protein causing allergies in humans is Fel d4, also found in cat saliva. 

Are You Allergic to Cats?

When in the presence of cats, it’s not hard to overlook allergy symptoms. Sneezing, coughing, throat itching, watery eyes, and general irritation of the respiratory tract are the first and most common symptoms, which can appear after just a few minutes spent among cats. Depending on how intensely your body reacts to cat allergens, other symptoms like skin itching, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties may also appear. Don’t ignore them, even if they are not too bothersome – the allergy may go away on its own, but it can also worsen, leading to chronic sinus infections or asthma. If you suspect you have an allergy, it’s worth getting allergy tests done before a simple runny nose turns into a bigger problem.

You might say, fabCat: okay, but how do I know if I’m allergic if I dream of having a cat but don’t have one at home yet? The best idea is to visit your friends, a breeder, a temporary home, or… a cat café. You can then spend some time with cats, pet them, play with them, and check if your body reacts negatively to a cat or not.

Allergy and Cat: Can You Make it Work? 

Let’s assume the scenario where it turns out you are allergic to cats, fabCat. What now? Does an allergic person have a chance to live with a cat under the same roof and not suffer greatly? We don’t have a definite answer to this question because every allergy is different, and what one body can tolerate without major complications, another may struggle with greatly. However, you should know that there are effective ways to deal with allergy symptoms, including pharmacological ones, and many allergy sufferers lead happy lives alongside cats, despite their ailments. The optimal treatment course is best developed in cooperation with an allergist to act effectively and not blindly.

Apart from treatment, a crucial element in the life of an allergic person living with a cat under one roof is very regular cleaning. Cat allergens will spread throughout the apartment anyway, but if you ensure that the cat, as much as possible, does not sit on your armchairs, bed, and bedding, eliminate excess surfaces that absorb allergens (e.g., carpets, curtains, throws), and also take care of regular airing, cleaning furniture, vacuuming, washing, and mopping floors, living with a kitty will be easier.

Hypoallergenic Cats: With Which Breeds Will the Allergy Be Least Troublesome?

We mentioned earlier that it’s not the length of the fur that determines how intense the allergy to a given cat breed will be, but the proteins present, among other places, in cat saliva. However, it’s not the end of the world, because as it turns out, there are cat breeds that naturally produce less of the allergenic proteins. Although they are not completely hypoallergenic, they may be a better choice for allergy sufferers. These breeds include Devon Rex, Cornish Rex, Russian Blue, Bengal cats, Oriental cats, and among long-haired cats – Siberian cats.

Are you struggling with a cat allergy, fabCats, or are you one of the lucky ones who can be around furballs without any consequences? Let us know in the comments and be sure to share your allergic stories with cats in the lead role, if you have any! 🙂 

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