Cat Allergy









"Excuse me... are you about done with all that sneezing??"







Understanding allergies is key to coming to terms with them and how allergies affect your life with a pet. Learn what an allergy is, how they can develop, what the 'cumulative effect' is and how an allergy can trigger asthma.






I... I... I think I'm going to sneeze...







Cats can have allergies, too. If your cat (or dog) has developed food allergies, Wysong Diet Anergen icon is designed just for them. There are formulas for both cats and dogs and are available either as dry kibbles or canned versions. You can get reusable can lids, too




All that scratching and scritching can keep you awake at night and drive your cat mad. Cats can develop allergies to anything from fleas to food; lawn herbicides and smog, too. Just like people. Itchy Skin & Allergy Kits for Cats icon treat allergy symptoms from the inside out using diet, digestive enzymes, probiotics, and essential fatty acids





Caught in the act sharing her cat allergy

Cat Allergy... that Darn Cat!!
Are you one of the six million people who suffer from a cat allergy? Moreover, did you know that around 1/3 of these cat allergy sufferers share their home with a cat? I guess that shows how convincing a cat can be! Well, I know. I have cat allergies and yet have lived with cats all my adult life.

A cat allergy can manifest itself in a variety of ways.

Cat allergy coughing
Cat allergy congestion
Cat allergy headaches
Cat allergy rashes
Cat allergy red eyes, nose and throat

More severely, there is:
Cat allergy asthma
... and the cat allergy "permanent cold"

My own cat allergy reaction is rather unique, My whole nervous system feels set afire with a sensation of electricity shooting through my body. Without any let up, it's a constant tingle that can drive me crazy. That darn cat... she's everywhere!

Most doctors prescribe the obvious solution to cat allergy relief: get rid of the cat... take the easy way out until someone comes up with a cure for cat allergies. But, as cat lovers know, you can't just throw out the cat. One lives with a cat for a reason and for many that reason is the good companionship cats offer to us. Besides, if you didn't investigate (with a skin prick test from your doctor) your potential for a cat allergy, shame on you for not doing your home work & research. Nope, no gold star. And don't put the blame on the cat, either.


So, What can Cause an Allergic Reaction?
The main allergen culprit is a glycoprotein named "Fel d1" (Great name. Like Mary or Sam... one we can all relate to). This protein is produced by the sebaceous glands.

"Sebaceous glands are found in the skin of mammals. They secrete an oily substance called sebum. Sebum acts to protect and waterproof hair and skin, and keep them from becoming dry, brittle, and cracked. Sebaceous glands can usually be found in hair-covered areas where they are connected to hair follicles to deposit sebum on the hairs, and bring it to the skin surface along the hair shaft" - Wikipedia

Fel d1 shows up in a cats fur, skin, saliva, serum (blood or any clear bodily fluid - Wikipedia), urine, mucous, salivary glands and hair roots. Mostly, though, it's found on the skin and in saliva. It's really small. About 10 times smaller that pollen or dust mite allergen. And small means it's light, too. It can remain aloft in the air for months. It's also particularly sticky, making it easy to cling to everything from your walls, to fabrics on furniture, in your rugs and on your clothes.

How do you come into contact with this Fel d1?

We'll use Alexander for an example. Our fastidious feline keeps himself trim, neat and clean. Grooming himself with his tongue, he deposits saliva on his fur. When this fur dries, the saliva will tend to flake, lifting the notorious Fel d1 into the air. His fur will also naturally shed, and, viola... our prolific Fel d1 ends up not only floating around the room, but in the carpet and on the furniture, too. The natural scaling of his skin also contributes to the cycle. That darn cat IS everywhere. Then when I come into the room with every breath I take and every thing I touch Fel d1 runs to me like metal filings to a magnet, or white on rice, or fish to water... well, you get the picture. I soon feel I'm plugged directly into a light socket. Ziiit... Ziiit!!


Living with an Active Reaction is not a Viable Situation.
There are, however, things you can do to minimize contact with the dreaded Fel d1 allergen. From the following list you can't do just one or two of these suggestions and expect meaningful results. You will need to do all these things to maintain a normal life without cat allergy reactions:

  • Perform a daily grooming of your cat. Spend a few minutes brushing her all over (preferably outside of the house) to remove loose hair and dander (skin flakes). Morning, noon or night it doesn't matter. Just do it each day.
  • A weekly bath will remove much of the surface allergen, and, reduce the amount of future allergen produced, according to some studies. Use plain water, especially on older cats because if you use soap she may not stay around long enough for you to rinse her. Kittens are easier to wash this way and there's the added benefit of training her to get used to the weekly bath. Plain water is enough to capture the allergen, anyway. There are mitts, gloves and wipes designed for any washing ritual which makes the process easier to manage than negotiating a cloth and bucket of water. Don't forget... once a week.
  • Though some suggest banning your cat from some or most rooms in a house as being necessary, I think this is one step short of outright throwing her out. But, I do advocate making the bedroom off-limits. Cleaning your bed coverings and sheets every time the cat has found your pillow for an afternoon siesta, or a midnight snuggle, can get old really fast. Sorry kitty. You'll have to sleep in your own bunk.
  • Make vacuuming a regular habit. Include upholstered furniture, rugs and carpets as well as bare floors. Tables and all polished furniture should also benefit from a regular cleaning. HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters on vacuums and heating & cooling systems can reduce cat allergen by up to 50% in your home. Wipe the walls down with a damp cloth or sponge mop, too. Whew... I'm tired just thinking about it. But, it's really worth it!
    Keep your home well ventilated and "air out" as often as possible.
  • If your kitty has been lying peacefully in your lap, change clothes when she is finished and put them in the laundry. Then go wash your hands, or even take a shower if you think it's necessary. It's just her way of helping you to realize how refreshing a shower can be.
    Aaahhhh... the things we do for our loved ones.

  • Finally, if you are particularly cat allergic, wear a dust mask when performing any of the above activities.


Now, for Some Good News!!
Within the last year and a half, there have been some successful early studies performed at the UCLA School of Medicine as reported in Nature Magazine (April 2005) that give hope to finding a remedy for our cat allergy fiend, the infamous Fel d1 allergen. The allergen has been successfully tied up with antibodies that relieve the symptoms of cat allergies in lab mice (can you believe it, they bred mice to be allergic to cats... like they really needed to do that!). Human testing is still down the road, and, to even greater benefit, the process holds the promise of relieving food allergies, also.

A little more searching revealed that a company named Allerca has claimed development of hypoallergenic cats and are available through their web site:

They are a bit pricey... over $3000.00 per cat.
The process uses gene sequencing to detect naturally occurring genetic divergences in cats.

"Genetic divergence is the method of detecting and artificially directing two or more desired genetic characteristics that have occurred naturally over time and passing these divergences from one generation to subsequent generations" - Wikipedia

Then by targeting those divergences that could potentially change the structure of the Fel d1 allergen produced by the gene, and using sophisticated bioinformatics.

"Bioinformatics more properly refers to the creation and advancement of algorithms, computational and statistical techniques, and theory to solve formal and practical problems posed by or inspired from the management and analysis of biological data" - Wikipedia

Managing their cat breeding programs, the results were cats with a divergent gene that produces a different version of the Fel d1 protein in the cat which no longer triggered the autoimmune system in people allergic to cats.

Whew!! I think what they are saying here is that they have found a way to coax the gene that produces the Fel d1 allergen into producing an altered Fel d1 allergen that people aren't allergic to.


But, Wait! What's Wrong with Alexander??
Did you know that it works both ways? Cats can have allergies, too. Feline Asthma is a rather common disease affecting one in every 200 cats. Pedigree oriental cats, like Siamese, are especially susceptible. It seems that human lifestyles that encompass smoke, dust and (probably) chemicals can trigger allergic reactions in cats.

Alexander could immediately feel his reaction to this person who was visiting his home. "I smell cigarette odors and, well, the cologne they are wearing definitely did not come off the top shelf!", he wheezed. "I hope this isn't a sign of feline asthma coming on". He thought of his brother roaming the Serengeti Plains of Africa, surrounded by all that abundant clean air. Alexander huffed, "I think I'll go outside for some fresh air", scowling at the repugnant, unpleasant scents (and those they rode in on). Flipping his tail, he casually strode to the open patio door and entered the garden where refreshing floral smells called him to his favorite napping spot... a cool grassy bed in a shaded retreat hidden behind a nest of summer flowers. There he could dream of Gnu trembling before his gaze and forget all about that darn cat allergy.

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Earthbath All Natural Shampoo & Conditioner iconRegular baths are the most effective way to control Fel d1 allergies. But, the best benefit is knowing you can pick up and hug your cat, stroke her silky soft, shiny fur coat and not fear an allergic reaction





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Earthbath Natural Grooming Wipes Hypo-Allergenic Wipes icon

Sometimes a little wipe-down is called for in between baths. Remove dander, drool, discharge and cling-ons your cat acquires exploring unknown lands. It's good for wiping paws, undercoat and is an odor control, too





Can you give me a little scratch?... right behind the ear.





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