How to Stop Cat Allergies
Nearly 1 in 6 Americans is allergic to their household pet, and cat allergies top the list! In fact, they’re twice as common as dog allergies.
What Causes a Cat Allergy?
While there are many causes of indoor allergies, all cat allergy symptoms are caused by one specific protein allergen, called Fed d1. This invisibly small protein particle is produced mostly by a cat’s sebaceous glands, which are located under its skin. But Fed d1 is also present in cat fur, saliva, urine, and solid waste.
Fel d1 allergens are so tiny and lightweight that they become airborne the second they leave a cat’s body. Within minutes they can travel many yards. And because they’re sticky, Fed d1 allergens cling to clothing, furniture upholstery, bed linen, towels, rugs, drapes, or any other fabric surface – where they are easily inhaled by people and absorbed through human skin pores. This helps explain the EPA warning, that American homes are the most allergy-provoking places in the nation.
In most of us, Fel d1 is completely harmless. But in those with cat allergies, it gets mistaken for a dangerous contaminant, leading to symptoms such as puffy-red eyes that tear and burn, runny nose, sneezing and coughing, upper respiratory congestion, pet allergy headache, itchy skin, hives and rashes, pronounced exhaustion, shortness of breath, and even joint pain.
Who’s Most Likely to Have a Cat Allergy?
Cat allergies are a cumulative response to Fel d1. In other words, prolonged exposure to cats will eventually lead to an allergic reaction in even mildly susceptible people. When does that happen? It’s different for every person. But we all have an allergen threshold, and when number of environmental contaminants around us exceed our individual tolerance, we begin to experience symptoms.
Experts have determined, though, that children are most at risk. Doctors also know that cat allergies are now the leading cause of chronic asthma and irreversible lung damage in the United States. What’s more, exposure to an overabundance of cat (and other indoor) contaminants can contribute to a youngster’s risk for developing childhood asthma.
Take a Preventive Approach
If you want to prevent cat allergies or relieve symptoms, you must reduce the Fel d1 level in your home. Try this 5-Step Plan: