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Cat Allergy

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Studies show that at least 5% of the general population is allergic to cat allergen. Allergens are substances that produce an allergic reaction when a person is unusually sensitive to the substance.

Where does the cat allergen come from?

  • The major allergen is found in the cat’s saliva, dander, and fur (pelt)
  • The cat allergen is small enough to remain airborne in a quiet room. People with allergies may have symptoms even if the cat is not sharing the same room as them.
  • Cat allergen may be present in rooms and furnishings for up to 6 months after a cat is removed.

What are the symptoms of cat allergy?

Symptoms can range from itchy eyes and sneezing to severe wheezing. Wheezing is a tight, whistling or musical sound heard when a person is having difficulty breathing. The air passages may be smaller due to swelling. This makes it hard to breathe.

How can we decrease the symptoms of a cat allergy?

Avoiding a cat is the BEST way to decrease allergy symptoms. If the cat cannot be removed from the environment, the following suggestions may help reduce symptoms:

  • Keep the cat outdoors as much as possible.
    If the cat is indoors, confine the cat to areas where the person with the allergy spends very little time. Do not allow the cat in the bedroom and living room areas as bedding and upholstered furniture will become a reservoir for cat allergen.
  • Thoroughly vacuum furniture and carpets, and wash down walls to decrease allergen levels. You should use a vacuum with secondary filter/multi-layer bags. These bags remove most of the allergen particles before the air exits the machine.
  • Use a HEPA filter air cleaner to remove the small allergen particles from room air. Many models are available from retail stores. The small tabletop models do not work well. The larger, room size models work best. Air coming out of the filter will disturb dust from the floor if it is placed on the carpet.
  • Try washing the cat once or twice a week to remove allergen from the fur.
  • Wash any cat bedding weekly in hot water.
  • Wash your child’s hands and clothing after contact with a cat.
  • If you know you will be visiting in a home where cat allergen will be present, you should ask your doctor about giving your child antihistamines or other medications to minimize his/her reaction to cat allergen.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 03/08

(757) 668-7000