Cat Allergy in humans is an allergic reaction to one or more of the five known allergens produced by cats. The most common of these are the glycoprotein Fel d 1, secreted by the cat's sebaceous glands and Fel d 4, which is expressed in saliva. An allergic reaction is a histamine reaction that is usually characterized by coughing, wheezing, chest tightening, itching, nasal congestion, rash, watering eyes, sneezing and similar symptoms.
Symptoms of Allergies
Symptoms of an allergic reaction to cats include: swollen, red, itchy, watery eyes; nasal congestion; itchy nose; sneezing; difficulty breathing (dyspnea), swelling of the feet or hands, chronic sore throat and/or itchy throat; coughing, wheezing, or itchy skin. Some people reported elevation of the skin upon being scratched by a cat
Coping with Allergies
Allergic reaction to cats can be lessened most successfully by minimizing exposure to the animals. That is not always a practical solution, and there are a number of other strategies that may aid an allergy sufferer.
Lower exposureAllergens are airborne and survive for months or even years by themselves, hence removing anything that can trap and hold the allergens (carpet, rugs, pillows) and cleaning regularly and thoroughly with HEPA filters and Air purifier systems reduces risk. Furthermore, regularly brushing the cat will reduce the amount of loose fur (and its attached saliva) in the air. Regularly bathing the cat may significantly reduce allergens.
Frequent hand washing, especially after handling the cat, and washing hands prior to touching eyes, nose, or mouth, and limiting the cat to the outdoors or barring the animal from certain rooms, such as the bedroom or other rooms where much time is spent, may also reduce allergic reactions. Feeding the cat a high quality diet with plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids will help keep the coat healthy and minimize dander.
MedicationsCat allergies can often be controlled with over the counter or prescription medications. Antihistamines and decongestants may provide allergy relief.
Allergy shotsSome allergy sufferers find relief in immunotherapy, a periodic injection therapy designed to stimulate the body's natural immune responses to the cat allergens.
Synthetic epitope vaccine
The Synthetic epitope vaccine is an in-development vaccine to provide a long term vaccine for allergies.
Cat BathingIt is also possible to wash a domestic cat in order to remove the significant amounts of allergens from the fur.
Hypoallergenic catsA hypoallergenic cat is a cat which is less likely to provoke an allergic reaction in humans; Although the topic is controversial, with many studies failing to show statistically significant results, owner's experience and recent clinical studies suggest that Siberian cats, especially females are likely to have low levels of Fel d 1, the main allergenic protein.
In 2006, the Allerca company announced the successful breeding of a line of hypoallergenic cats. However, no peer-reviewed studies have been done to confirm their claims and many scientists and consumers are skeptical of the company's assertions. They are currently accepting orders for hypoallergenic kittens, although over 30 customers lost all of the money they paid to the company and either received no cat at all or one to which they were allergic.] Another company, Felix Pets, also claims to be developing a breed of hypoallergenic cat.