One thing we can claim for sure, pets are awesome. Be they cats, dogs, hamsters or hedgehogs, or even something more extreme, there are few things as heartwarming and entertaining as having a pet.
While many would argue that there are millions of cats that have humans as pets, legally speaking, around 74 million people own cats in the United States. And with over 10 million people having cat allergies, there is a big chance of overlap of these two groups.
Problems with allergies can range from having a slight sneeze from time to time to serious asthma attacks that can even threaten your life. It is important to know if you or your family members are allergic and to try to combat and, if possible, prevent any harm done.
What are allergies?
In the simplest terms, allergies are the immune response of your body to something that is not harmful to it. As mentioned, this reaction can be mild or severe, depending on a number of factors. Your immune system can see dust mites or pollen as simple bacteria that deserves only a small rash.
Cat allergies are no different to other allergies in that regard. The biggest misconception about cat allergies is that they are caused by cat hair, which is not exact enough for those who want to avoid asthma attacks. Cat allergies are triggered by a protein found in the metabolic protein of almost all cats, which they excrete through their saliva, urine and through the skin in the form of dander (the name for dandruff when it’s not on the head).
When these proteins come into contact with your body’s immune system, there is a reaction that makes the body overreact and make you have different symptoms, which show that you have an allergy.
This is why getting hypo allergic cats is not a good idea if you have severe cat allergies, as those cats lick at the same rate as others, and usually, as is the case with the sphinx cat, shed skin more.
Cat allergies make different immune systems react differently. Sometimes symptoms can show themselves in just a few seconds, and other times it can be days. This is why it is hard to know if you are allergic when you have a cat in your home, as there are many other allergens in every home that can be the culprit.
Symptoms of having cat allergies include:
- Coughs, sneezes, and wheezing
- Having a hive or rash all over the body
- Eyes itching
- Inflammation where the cat has licked you, bitten you or scratched you
- Your nose becoming runny and itching
Licking is probably the best way to field test if you are allergic to cats. If there is a rash in the exact spot where the cat has licked you, you are probably allergic. If you have no reaction to the saliva but have a constantly runny nose, maybe it is other allergens.
How to be sure?
To be totally certain, you should get a test for multiple allergies in a certified clinic or laboratory. This is the only way to be certain on what are you allergic.