September 1, 2008 "Ask Seth"

I have 3 cats and I am starting to think that I am allergic to them. Is that possible? I have had cats all my life and now when I come back from a trip my allergies seem to get worse.


Dear Seth,

I have 3 cats and I am starting to think that I am allergic to them. Is that possible? I have had cats all my life and now when I come back from a business trip it, my allergies seem to get worse. Do I have to find my cats new homes? Can I just have my kids brush them twice a day? Please HELP!!

Joan, PA


Joan,

Originally, it was thought that the allergies were from the hair or particles of hair that were inhaled. The most common cause of the allergen is a protein called Fel d 1, although some people can develop allergies to other feline proteins. This is found in the saliva of that cat and when the cat cleans itself, these dry up and become dander or dandruff and is released when the cat is petted or brushed. To brushing the cat may increase the amount of allergens you are exposed to and make the symptoms worse. An allergic response to exposure to dander is for the body to release excess histamine. This excess histamine production leads to the associated symptoms of itchy eyes, sneezing and skin rash. To confirm that this is actually a cat allergy, consult with your doctor. The cat is a commonly blamed culprit for the hay-fever like symptoms by doctors, so an allergy test may allow for a better understanding of the cause of your symptoms.

Many people can tolerate these mild allergies with medications, homeopathic remedies, and nasal sprays. Also speak to you doctor about desensitizing treatments and other options. Your doctor can provide you with the right direction to allow you to keep your cats. Consult your veterinarian for other option in dander control. If for some reason this is not possible, please try to place the cats in a new home yourself. Shelters can be used as a last resort, for they usually operate above their capacity.

Seth Mayersohn, CVT

Welcome Veterinarians

Pet Assure is the largest veterinary network in the U.S. with over 5,600 veterinarians.

Pet Assure powers DVM Network, a brand built to support our participating veterinary professionals and help them grow their practice.

Visit www.dvmnetwork.com to learn more.