June 20, 2011

Cat Allergy--

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 exposure

Allergens 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.


Cat allergies can often be controlled with over the counter or prescription medications. Antihistamines and decongestants may provide allergy relief.

 Allergy shots

Some 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 Bathing

It is also possible to wash a domestic cat in order to remove the significant amounts of allergens from the fur.

 Hypoallergenic cats

A 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.

 Cat gender and color

Female cats produce a lower level of allergens than males, and neutered males produce a lower level of allergens than unaltered males. In 2000, researchers at the Long Island College Hospital found that cat owners with dark-colored cats were more likely to report allergy symptoms than those with light-colored cats. A later study by the Wellington Asthma Research Group found that hair color had no effect on how much allergen a cat produced.


Allergies occur when an animal's immune system responds abnormally (literally over-reacts) to some everyday substance, called an allergen, like pollen, mold, grass, animal hair, feathers, house dust or fleas and other insects. These substances cause an allergic reaction when inhaled, swallowed, or contact the skin. Certain food items can also cause allergic reactions. 
Any pet can develop allergies. An overwhelming 30% of all skin irritations in the dogs are caused by allergic reactions. The clinical signs of allergies may be seasonal and often correspond to the rise and fall in the levels of tree and grass pollens or heightened periods of mold activity, particularly, in the moist or warm climates. Food or insect allergies are usually non-seasonal. 
The underlying biological reactions to allergies are the same in humans and pets. The outward signs, however, are different. Allergic humans suffer from nasal and sinus congestion, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, headaches, runny eyes and occasionally skin rashes with itching. Although dogs can show similar symptoms, it is much more common to find skin problems with intense itching. Reactions to food allergens may also cause itching or vomiting and diarrhea.
Signs of allergies begin with redness and itching of the face, feet, ears and rump areas. As the disease progresses the itching can involve most or all of the body. Self-mutilation can lead to bacterial skin infections, accompanied by hair loss, foul odors and other changes of the skin. Remember, not all of the signs described can always be attributed exclusively to allergies. For this reason, it is important that your pet's skin problems be accurately diagnosed. 

 The best form of treatment would be to keep the pet away from the particular allergen, but in most cases, this is difficult, if not impossible. Combinations of prescription drugs, supplements, shampoos and diets do quite well at controlling most symptoms, especially for seasonal problems. Thyroid function should be checked as well.
Hyposensitization to the offending allergen(s) after extensive testing to determine what your pet is allergic to is another form of treatment. Injections are prepared containing specific amounts of offending allergen(s) to be administered on a regular basis. This allows the animal to build up a tolerance to the allergen(s). 
A newer form of therapy involves using a drug called Atopica, an immune modulator that helps your pet's body not over-react when it encounters an offending allergen. Success and safety of this drug is proving to be very good. Pets with non-seasonal allergies may be allergic to basic food ingredients. Most every commercial food contains some of the same ingredients that can cause allergies. New and specialized foods are now readily available to help both diagnose and treat these kinds of problems. These include IVD Limited Ingredient Diets, z/d by Hills, and several others. 
Your pet is unique, and the type of medication, proper doses, and frequency of giving the medication may change or vary over time. Regular exams, testing and careful monitoring at home is essential for long-term success. Most allergies are not cured but rather, controlled!