The symptoms experienced by people allergic to cats can range from mild to simply unbearable: coughing, sneezing, swelling and itchiness, teary eyes, breathing problems… the list goes on!
The cat allergy is the third most common allergy in the world, after dust mite allergies and hayfever.
However, there are some solutions that may appease some cat-loving allergy sufferers!
The causes and symptoms of a cat allergy
Nearly three out of 10 people are allergic to cats, double that of those with dog allergies.
The active element that causes the allergy is Fel d 1, a protein found in the saliva, dead skin cells and even urine of cats. It's also possible that the allergy sufferer is allergic to dust mites found in a cat's fur - a double whammy for any allergy sufferer!
Allergic reactions vary from individual to individual. The symptoms can include: an itchy throat and inner ear canals, watery eyes, running or blocked nose, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, and even the symptoms linked to asthma.
Unfortunately, all cats posses these allergens, even those without fur and those called 'hypoallergenic'. Any cat may provoke an allergic reaction in those who are affected.
However, the good news for cat loving allergy sufferers is that some cats seem to produce less of the allergen. One such breed is the Siberian cat.
How to treat a cat allergy
According to a study published in the National Institutes of Health, children less than one year that are exposed to cats are less likely to develop an allergy later on.
Unfortunately for adults, it is too late. However, there are certain things that can be done do improve the situation.
Remedies and methods to help alleviate cat allergies:
Firstly, it is important to prevent the cat from having access to the bedroom, even if the allergic person is not in it. Just being in the room will mean the allergen has been transferred from cat to the bed, furniture, air, etc.
You should also air out the house and clean it often.
There exist natural antihistamines such as plantain syrup and tarragon essential oil, which can be useful for alleviating symptoms of the allergy. Take care to read the warning labels on essential oils in particular, as certain ones can be risky in large doses, even to other animals or children in your home.
The neutering of a male cat has also been shown to reduce the number of allergens produced.
If you can combine the above remedies and methods, it is likely you'll notice an improvement to your allergies. Although be prepared that you may not be "cured".
Get diagnosed by an allergy specialist
Only a certified allergy specialist can give a precise diagnosis. They can also give recommendations about how best to live with a cat and offer treatment options that may help your allergies where the above options don't provide enough relief.
Treatment options can include injections, environmental changes or prescription medication to treat your symptoms. The efficiency of these methods may vary from individual to individual so be prepared to be patient and accepting if your allergy is simply too severe.
Ideally, before adopting a cat, check that neither you nor the members of your family are allergic to cats.
Do you have any tips for people allergic to cats?