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Pet allergies: do I have a cat allergy?

Cat allergy

Pet allergies: do I have a cat allergy?

Did you know that in the UK pets are the second most common cause of allergies? The biggest culprit is our feline friend; the housecat. In fact, the number of people who have a cat allergy is significantly higher than any other pet allergy.

This probably doesn’t come as much as a surprise to you. But a little-known fact is that the primary allergen actually isn’t in the cat’s fur. It is found in a protein known as Fel d 1 (a uteroglobin-like protein).

Cat facts

There are other characterised allergens in cats that people can be allergic to: Fel d 2, serum albumin, Fel d 3, cystatin, a cysteine protease inhibitor, Fel d 4, a Lipocalin, Fel d 5, Fel d 6, Fel d 7.

Fel D 1 is found in their urine, saliva, and dander (dry skin). You’re more likely to see a higher concentration of this in unneutered male cats due to testosterone secretions.

Like velcro, Fel D 1 attaches itself to human’s clothes, and it is easily transferable. Because of this, it’s possible to trigger your cat allergy from being in contact with a cat owner, or someone else who has recently been near cats. The allergen is so small that it can remain in the air for hours, and it can be easily breathed directly into the lungs. You can get certain breeds that make it less likely to trigger symptoms though.

Individuals suffering from allergies have developed sensitisation – state of an immune system that preserves an innocent protein (allergen) as a foreign body (parasite) – a potential threat and is trying to fight it with all its might. The symptoms you get are the side effects of your body attacking the allergen with the aim to prevent it from harming your system.

The cat’s pyjamas

The symptoms can appear only a few minutes after being in contact with the allergen. In some cases, it might take even hours to appear. Up to 30% of people who have allergic asthma can feel severe intensifications of their problems after contact with Fel D 1.

Usually, the symptoms are very evident after being in contact with a cat. These usually appear in the following forms:

  • Itchy, runny, or blocked nose
  • Red, itchy eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Hives or a rash in the area of the face and neck when in contact with the saliva
  • Redness of the skin after feline contact or if you get a scratch

It’s easy to confuse a cat allergy with an allergic reaction to dust and so it is vital that before getting any treatment a consultant detects the exact allergen that is responsible for your symptoms. This can help not only to use treatment to reduce the symptoms but in many cases allows to conduct the treatment that can influence the cause of allergy – immunotherapy. So if you want pets, you don’t necessarily have to suffer.

There are several types of tests that to determine whether you are allergic to cat’s dander. Book an appointment with one of our specialists today to arrange a suitable screening for the cause of your symptoms.

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