Can You Develop an Allergy to Cats? – Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, it is possible to develop an allergy to cats even if you have never been allergic before. Here’s why:
What causes cat allergies?
Cat allergies are caused by proteins found in cat dander (dead skin cells), saliva, and urine. When someone with a cat allergy comes into contact with these proteins, their immune system overreacts and releases histamine, causing allergy symptoms.
How do cat allergies develop?
Allergies can develop at any age. You may not have an allergic reaction the first time you’re exposed to cat allergens. But over time, with repeated or prolonged exposure, your immune system can start recognizing cat proteins as harmful invaders. This triggers an overzealous immune response resulting in allergy symptoms.
Who is at risk for developing cat allergies?
- People with a family history of allergies
- People with other allergies like hay fever or asthma
- Adults more than children
How are cat allergies diagnosed?
Cat allergies are diagnosed through skin or blood tests. A skin prick test checks reaction to small amounts of cat allergen extracts on the skin. Blood tests measure antibody levels to cat dander and saliva. These tests can confirm cat allergy.
Can cat allergies be prevented?
There’s no guaranteed way to prevent developing a cat allergy. But limiting exposure to cats may help. Keep cats out of bedrooms and restrict them to one area of the home. Bathe cats weekly and groom more often. Vacuum frequently using a HEPA filter. Air purifiers with HEPA filters can also reduce airborne allergens.
What are the symptoms of cat allergies?
Common allergy symptoms include:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy throat
- Facial pressure and pain
How are cat allergies treated?
Treatment focuses on managing symptoms through medications like:
- Antihistamines – cetirizine (Zyrtec), loratadine (Claritin)
- Nasal corticosteroid sprays – fluticasone (Flonase), triamcinolone (Nasacort)
- Eye drops – olopatadine (Patanol), ketotifen (Zaditor)
- Allergy shots (immunotherapy) can help desensitize you to cat allergens over time
Avoidance of cats is also recommended. Air filters, frequent cleaning, and keeping cats out of bedrooms can help reduce exposure.
Can you suddenly become allergic to cats?
Yes, cat allergies can develop suddenly, even if you’ve never been allergic before. With repeated exposure over time, your immune system can start recognizing cat proteins as threats and trigger an allergic reaction.
At what age do cat allergies develop?
Cat allergies are more common in adults than young children. They can develop at any age but are most likely to appear for the first time during the teenage years or in adults over 30.
Can cat allergies go away?
For many, cat allergies are lifelong conditions. However, some children may outgrow their cat allergy by the teenage years. Avoiding cats for several years may help reduce symptoms but allergies rarely go away completely.
Are some cats hypoallergenic?
There are no truly hypoallergenic cat breeds. But some cats produce lower amounts of allergens. Siberian, Russian Blue, Balinese, and Cornish Rex cats may be better tolerated by some allergic people.
What can I do to reduce cat allergy symptoms?
Keep cats out of bedrooms and limit them to one room. Bathe cats weekly. Vacuum and clean frequently with HEPA filters. Use air purifiers. Take medication to treat symptoms. Consider allergy shots. As a last resort, finding a new home for your cat may be necessary.
Can you be allergic to some cats but not others?
It’s possible to be allergic to one cat and not another, even within the same breed. No two cats produce the exact same levels of allergy-causing proteins. You may react more to one cat versus another.
For more information, see this comprehensive guide on cat allergies from Healthline.
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