Managing Cat Allergies
Allergies rank sixth (in terms of spending) in the list of chronic ailments in the United States, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. More the half the nation has one or more allergies.
Cats are wonderful pets but can be the reason for a lot of misery. 10-15% of the population have pet allergies with cat allergy being twice more prevalent.
Cats are owned by more than half the population in the United States. In is unfortunate that there are many people who are allergic to cats and their dander are deprieved of the pleasure of owning one. Nearly 10 million Americans show allergic tendency to cats.
There are five known allergens obtained from cats. The triggers are mostly derived from their saliva and sebaceous glands. The allergens are basically glycoproteins. The two major allergens are Fel d 1, a secretoglobin and Fel d 4, a lipocalin. The other minor allergens are Fel d 2, an albumin, Fel d 3, a cystatin and antibodies known as IgA. These allergens are also deposited in the cat dander(dried skin particles) and can be found in urine, saliva, skin and anal sebaceous glands.
It is very rare that someone gets cured of allergies. In some individuals the symptoms recede with age. But the threat remains and the allergies can always recur.
Mechanism behind Allergy caused by cats
Allergies are basically an auto immune response of the body to certain proteins, in this case,the glycoproteins mentioned above. Some individuals have a hypersensitive immune system and react to proteins as if they were some bacteria or virus meant to cause harm. The immune system has certain regulatory T cells. The function of the T cells is to suppress the immune system and preventing it from reacting to harmless proteins and antigens. The reaction of the immune system with these proteins causes an imbalance in the regulatory T cells. These T cells fail to prevent the overactive immune system from manifesting adverse reactions.
Besides this, in response to the proteins,the immune system produces a force of antibodies to fight the allergen. These antibodies are called the Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. They react and bind with the proteins and causes the mast cells to release histamine. Histamine is the chemical which causes the adverse physical reactions like itching, inflammation, breathlessness etc. It dilates the blood vessels and causes the walls of the blood vessels to become permeable enabling leakage of fluids. This results in irritating nerve endings and causes superficial skin reactions.
Symptoms of Cat Allergy
The symptoms from the said allergy are as follows:
- Red, itchy and watery eyes.
- Nasal congestion.
- Runny nose and constant irritation of the nasal passage.
- Uncontrolled sneezing.
- Nasal drip at the back of the throat.
- Itchy throat and coughing.
- Shortness of breath or wheezing.
- Angioedema or swelling in body parts.
- Red, itchy and inflamed skin as in hives or urticaria.
- In rare situations, anaphylaxis can occur. A sudden congestion, drop in blood pressure, wheezing, confusion and loss of consciousness can happen.
- Symptoms worsen on being directly exposed to the animal.
- Some conventional methods include allergy vaccines or allergen immunotherapy, or medications which include antihistamines, decongestants and corticosteroids.
- Several other alternatives like herbal remedies, acupressure, acupuncture, hypnosis and aromatherapy can aid in curing cat allergies.
Tips for managing Cat Allergy
When you are susceptible to this allergy frequently, you must keep your house in such a way that it attracts the least of the allergens related to cats. An excellent way to reduce allergens in your house is to make certain alterations inside the house.
How to reduce allergens inside the house?
- Carpets and pads should be cleaned regularly as they attract more pet dander and fur. It is better to have no carpets or opting for hardwood flooring. You can also purchase teflon coated carpets and steam clean them every two months. Various carpet cleaning agents who deactivate allergens are available in market these days. Double filter or HEPA enabled vacuum cleaners can be used to reduce allergens entry in your home.
- Curtains are another common trap for allergens which need monthly washing to keep them allergen free.
- Mattresses should be covered with a vinyl mattress cover and bed sheets washed weekly.
- Microfiber filled pillows should be used.
- Catsâ€™ bedding should be washed frequently and also wash toys in hot water with liquid detergent.
- Use of air conditioners and heater should be limited because several allergens and cat dander disperse through the cooling and heating gadgets.
Preventive cat grooming measures
- Regular cat grooming ensures less allergen in your home.
- Make sure to neuter your cat.
- Use a quality shampoo and conditioner to bathe your cat. Bathe your cat many times in a week.
- Shampoos should be non toxic and plant based, which eliminate allergen and moisturizes its hair. To wash cat coat, baby shampoo can be used.
- Brush your cat frequently as it helps to remove their dead hair and helps to spread oil in the sebaceous glands evenly on skin which helps to reduce dander. Always brush your cat outside the house. Put on a mask before brushing them.
- Fatty acids such as Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids should be included in catâ€™s diet to keep their skin healthy and reduce fur shedding.
- Do not pet your cat often.
- Use a wet wipe on the catâ€™s body surface several times in a day to collect all the pet dander and hair about to set loose.
- It might sound cruel, but try confining your cats to a particular area in the house.
- Under any circumstances, keep your four legged friend away from your bed room.
- Learn more about hypoallergenic cat breeds like Cornish Rex, Sphinx, Devon Rex, Javanese, Balinese, Siberian, and Oriental short hair that can be owned.