Cat Allergies In Infants
There is ongoing debate among scientists whether infants who are exposed to animals at a very young age are destined to develop allergies, or if the opposite is true. Recent studies have come to conflicting conclusions. A 2015 study found that exposing infants to cats and dogs at home is associated with a higher risk of developing allergies during the first four years of the childs life.
On the other hand, a 2011 study found that babies who live with cats, especially during the first year of life, develop antibodies to the pet and were less likely to acquire an allergy later.
A 2017 study found that cats and dogs may provide a benefit by exposing babies to certain healthy bacteria early in life. The study concluded that babies exposed to a cat or dog in the home during pregnancy may have fewer problems with allergies in the future than babies who werent exposed.
Your doctor will be able to answer questions you may have about your baby and your cat. For children who are allergic, removing fabric toys and stuffed animals and replacing them with plastic or washable ones may help relieve symptoms.
Avoidance is best to prevent the allergies in the first place. But if you discover youre allergic to your cat, there are other options than getting rid of your pet. Consider these strategies for reducing your symptoms.
What Is Contact Allergy And How Is It Treated
Contact allergies are the least common of the four types of allergies in cats.
“They result in a local reaction on the skin from contact with an allergic substance.”
They result in a local reaction on the skin from contact with an allergic substance. Examples of contact allergy include reactions to shampoos, flea collars, or certain types of bedding, such as wool. If the cat is allergic to such substances, there will be skin irritation and itching at the points of contact. Removal of the contact irritant solves the problem. However, identifying the allergen can be challenging in many cases.
|Contributors: Tammy Hunter, DVM Ernest Ward, DVM
Tips For Reducing Cat Allergies In Humans
In addition to treating immediate allergic reactions, there are steps you can take to reduce the amount of cat allergens in your home and hopefully decrease your chances of having an allergic reaction.
Here are some of our favorite ways to reduce cat allergies in humans:
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Cat Allergies In Humans: Symptoms And Treatment
There are many things to love about cats: their unique personalities, cute antics, and cuddly naps. But cat allergies are not on the list. Many cat owners and cat lovers struggle with allergies and are looking for ways to treat their allergies so they can continue loving their feline friends.
Luckily, by understanding the symptoms and treatment for cat allergies in humans, you can understand how to manage your allergies and hopefully live a long and comfortable life with your furry friend.
Read on to learn more about cat allergies in humans, including their symptoms, how to know if you are allergic to cats, what can cause cat allergies in the first place, and how to treat and reduce allergens in your home.
Cat Allergy Management And Treatment
Avoidance is the best way to manage a cat allergy. If you have a cat and are allergic to cats, consider removing the cat from the home.
If you have a cat but dont want to find it a new home, or if your family wants a cat even though someone in the household is allergic, here are some strategies that may help keep symptoms at bay:
- Keep the cat out of your bedroom and restrict it to only a few rooms. Be advised that keeping the cat in only one room will not limit the allergens to that room.
- Dont pet, hug or kiss the cat if you do, wash your hands with soap and water.
- High-efficiency particulate air cleaners run continuously in a bedroom or living room can reduce allergen levels over time.
- Regular use of a high-efficiency vacuum cleaner or a central vacuum can reduce allergen levels.
- Giving your cat a bath at least once a week can reduce airborne cat allergen.
Treatments for cat allergy vary, depending on the symptoms.
Your allergist can help determine what treatment would be best to treat your cat allergy. Nasal symptoms often are treated with steroid nasal sprays, oral antihistamines or other oral medications. Eye symptoms are often treated with antihistamine eyedrops. Respiratory or asthma symptoms can be treated with inhaled corticosteroids or bronchodilators to either prevent or relieve respiratory symptoms.
Allergy shots are an effective treatment of allergies by building tolerance over time through gradually injecting increasing doses of an allergen.
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Causes Of Allergies In Cats
As the College of Veterinary Medicine at The Ohio State University says, “an allergy is a reaction that occurs when the body’s natural defenses overreact to a foreign substance called an allergen.” When the body is exposed to a substance it registers as bad, the immune system kicks into high gear to release histaminesway too many histamines.
Histamines are naturally occurring chemicals in your body, but too many of them can cause your cat discomfort in the form of inflammation, itchiness, and swelling. Both male and female cats of all ages and breeds can develop an allergy throughout their lives, and some cats may be born with a genetic predisposition to react to allergens.
What Causes Cat Allergies
About 10% of the U.S. population has pet allergies and cats are among the most common culprits. Cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies. But contrary to what you might think, it’s not the fur or hair that’s the real problem. People with cat allergies are really allergic to proteins in the cat’s saliva, urine, and dander .
How do these tiny proteins cause such a big allergic reaction in the body? People with allergies have oversensitive immune systems. Their bodies mistake harmless things — like cat dander — for dangerous invaders, and attack them as they would bacteria or viruses. The symptoms of the allergy are the side effects of your body’s assault on the allergen, or trigger.
Keep in mind that even if you don’t have an actual cat allergy, your cat can still indirectly cause your allergies to flare up. Outside cats can bring in pollen, mold, and other allergens on their fur.
And what about so-called “hypoallergenic” cats? While some breeds — like the “hairless” sphinx — are said to be less likely to trigger symptoms of cat allergies than others, any cat has the potential to cause problems. This is true regardless of its breed, hair length, or how much it sheds. So if you know that you or another family member is allergic to cats, getting one — no matter what the breed — is not a good idea.
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Epitope Determination By Hydrogen/deuterium Exchange
In order to determine the epitopes of Fel d 1 recognized by REGN1908 and REGN1909, HDX studies were performed for each antibody co-complexed with rFel d 1.mmh. Amide protons on recombinant Fel d 1 were first exchanged in D2O, then the deuterated rFel d 1.mmh was complexed with either REGN1908 or REGN1909 prior to the back-exchange in H2O. The control experiment is that the complexed rFel d 1.mmh with either antibody was deuterated in D2O and back-exchanged in H2O. The solution was then quenched in cold acidic aqueous solution to minimize back-exchange and subjected to proteolysis and mass spectrometry analysis. Fel d 1-derived peptic peptides that exhibited increased mass greater than 0.2 mass units relative to control experiment were defined as the binding epitopes based on H/DX methodology.
Vaccines And Gene Editing Are On The Horizon
Saiba Animal Health, a Swiss company initially known as HypoPet, is taking a very different approach. It is working on a vaccine that turns the cats immune system against Fel d 1 proteins. The companys research has shown the experimental HypoCat vaccine lowered Fel d 1 in cat tears and reduced symptoms in 10 allergic cat owners.
Saiba also hopes to produce a vaccine for dogs.
Kornreich said one worry with this type of vaccine is an errant immune reaction. Theres always a concern that that the immune system can be stimulated to start neutralizing things that are not the target of interest, he said.
As for the genetic approach, Brackett, at Indoor Biotechnologies, achieved 55% efficiency in knocking out Fel d 1 in a cat cell line. That is a good rate, she and Chapman said. Cat cells are notoriously difficult to work with, Brackett said.
The next step will be to see whether they can reduce the allergen in cat salivary glands. Then will come the really hard part: figuring how to deliver the genetic treatment to embryos or adult cats. Theyll be keeping an eye on techniques that other CRISPR researchers test.
It does seem to be that there is a significant roadblock for CRISPR at the moment, Chapman said.
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How Pet Allergies Affect Health
People suffering from pet allergies will have symptoms consistent with an inflammation of nasal passages. This includes a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, and shortness of breath. Coming into physical contact with pet dander can cause contact dermatitis, hives or triggers a persons asthma.
Can Cats Have Allergies
Yes, and some types of allergic reactions in cats are more common than you might think. Whether your cat is an indoor or outdoor cat, Evans says there’s a wide spectrum of allergens and your cat is likely to come in contact with at least one type. Plus, a cat’s exposure to allergens can increase if they share their home with a dog or two.
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Cat Allergen: Its Everywhere
The major culprit in cat allergies is Fel d1, a protein excreted in the cats skin, saliva, and urine. When cats lick themselves, they deposit Fel d1 on their fur. When the cat sheds, the allergens on the hair and dander spread.
And do they ever spread. Fel d1 proteins are small, so they remain suspended in the air. Fel d1 is also sticky, and takes a long time to decompose, Blaiss explains. The proteins cling to surfaces like draperies, carpets, furniture, bedding, clothing, even walls and ceilings.
Because of this, cat allergens are notoriously difficult to remove from a home, even with cleaning and vacuuming. Research has shown that there are cat proteins in almost all U.S. homes, even in homes where there are no cats. In school classrooms, kids can bring in enough Fel d1 on their clothes and backpacks to trigger asthma symptoms in their allergic classmates.
Bathing cats can cut down on Fel d1 in the fur, but only for a day or so. Studies have found female cats produce a lower level of allergens than males, while neutered males produce lower levels than unneutered males but they all produce plenty.
Do Allergy Shots Work For Cat Allergies
In my experience, allergy shots for cat allergies work great! My allergic reaction to cats has disappeared since I began allergy shots several years ago.
My weekly, then monthly, shots also contained allergen extracts from dogs and other household pets that I tested positive for. Its important to understand a few things:
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Allergies In Cats: How To Spot Treat And Prevent Them
We humans know allergies are no fun. But what about our furry friends? Can a cat have allergieseven indoor ones? They sure can, says Brian Evans, DVM, from Dutch. And feline allergies can disrupt your cat’s daily life as much as human allergies disrupt ours. Allergies in cats can wreak havoc on everything from the upper respiratory system to the skin and the GI tract.
You might feel hazy when it comes to discerning feline allergies from other conditions, like a kitty cold or asthma. But with the right tools, you can spot the signs of an allergy attack and work with your vet to find your cat relief. Some allergies may even resolve with a few simple tweaks at home.
Infections Caused By Cats
Allergies are a manifestation of the immune system’s over-reaction to a non-infectious substance. But you can also get an infection due to cat exposure, such as ringworm, or an infection due to a cat scratch.
A parasitic infection caused byToxoplasma gondii is spread by cat feces. This parasite is very dangerous for pregnant women because it can cause birth defects.
Infections caused by cats are different than allergies.
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Fast Facts About Cat Allergies:
- Most people experience mild to moderate symptoms.
- Some people who have allergies may be able to live with cats.
- Researchers do not fully understand why some people develop cat allergies and others do not.
The symptoms of cat allergies vary depending on the protein someone is allergic to and their exposure to that protein. For example, tiny allergens from cats can land in a persons nose or eyes, causing burning or itching.
The most common symptoms of a cat allergy include:
- itchy skin
- a rash on areas of the body that have come into contact with cat allergens
Very rarely, people with a cat allergy can develop a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis makes it difficult to breathe, can lower blood pressure to dangerous levels, and can send the body into shock.
A person who has trouble breathing or feels like they are choking following contact with a cat should seek immediate emergency care. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening reaction.
A person who is allergic to cats may continue to have symptoms even after the cat is no longer present. That happens because cat dander and other cat allergens can land on furniture and rugs, remain on unwashed clothes, and linger in linens.
People with allergies who want to live with cats or visit homes that have cats can do several things to manage their symptoms. Trying these can help alleviate the severity of allergies.
Allergies develop when the immune system overreacts to a usually harmless substance.
What Are Allergies And How Do They Affect Cats
One of the most common medical conditions affecting cats is allergy. An allergy occurs when the cat’s immune system overreacts or is hypersensitive to foreign substances called allergens. Allergens are simply foreign proteins that the body’s immune system tries to remove. Examples of allergens common in humans are pollens, dust, molds, and pet hair. Hypersensitivity in cats can manifest in one of three ways:
1. The most common manifestation is itching of the skin, either localized to one area or a generalized reaction all over the cat’s body.
2. Another manifestation involves the respiratory system and may result in coughing, sneezing, and wheezing. Sometimes, there may be an associated nasal or ocular discharge.
3. The third manifestation involves the digestive system and can result in vomiting, flatulence, and/or diarrhea.
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How Does A Doctor Diagnose An Animal/pet Allergy
When you have moderate-to-severe allergies, it is best to see a board-certified allergist
Your doctor will diagnose a pet or animal allergy based on your medical history, symptoms, a physical exam, and allergy test results. Allergy testing is the best way find out if you allergic to a specific animal type. Your doctor can use either a blood test or skin test to help get a diagnosis.
You can develop allergies at any time. And allergies can change over time. It is possible you were not allergic to your dog in the past, but you are now.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America advocates for equal rights for people with asthma and allergies on planes. Our advocacy helped put new rules into place on U.S. airlines that limit emotional support animals on planes. But there is still more work to do to make flying a safer environment for people with pet allergies. Join our community to receive AAFA Advocacy Action Alerts. You will receive updates on this issue, as well as other legislation that affects people with asthma and allergies!