When cats show us their love and adoration, they express it in such a way that contact with their little furry bodies is inevitable, and for cat fanciers with allergies, that is a definite issue. As such. many of these cat lovers have valiantly made the choice to live with the uncomfortable side effects of rashes and watery eyes, so must deal with the everyday trauma of the symptoms of cat allergies. According to WebMd, 10 percent of the population suffer from pet allergies, with cats being the most allergic pet. The symptoms these folk have to deal with include:
- Appearance of a rash
- Coughing, which gets worse the closer you get to the cat
- Watery, and itchy eyes
- Runny nose accompanied by sneezing
- Asthma symptoms
- Shortness of breath
If you are a cat owner experiencing these symptoms, it’s wise to first find out if it is indeed a cat allergy, as these symptoms are common in most allergies, from dust mite allergies to reactions to certain household cleaners. So, it’s wise not to self-diagnose, and go straight to your allergy doctor to find the true source. Tests may involve skin tests and more. After all, you don’t want to risk sending Fluffy to a new home, if it’s just an allergy to the tomatoes in your garden.
How Cat Fur and Dander Affect Your Allergies
For decades it was thought that cat fur was the nemesis. People would lurk around a family pet, doing their best to not come in contact with the fur, jumping away in a panic if even one tuft of cat fur brushed their skin. However, such is not the case. The fur is not the problem, it’s the dander and Fel D1. But just what is cat dander? What researchers found, is that dander is not the dandruff you see on some cats. Instead, it’s microscopic bits of dead cat skin cells.
When we say microscopic, we’re not kidding these bits of dried skin measure a mere 1/10th of a common dust mite. Once these sticky, microscopic skin cells enter the environment, they attach themselves to your furniture, bedding, rugging. Indeed, whatever surface they alight on, will become a host for the dander, and any person suffering from cat allergies who comes in contact with said surface, will begin to experience the unpleasant symptoms of their cat allergy. That being said, once it becomes attached to your clothing, know that it travels with you.
Fel D1 is a glycoprotein that is responsible for all the wheezing, sneezing and watery eyes. Here’s how it works: When your cat does its daily grooming, Fel D1 is deposited on the skin and fur. This is because Fel D1 is found in the cats saliva, so when he licks himself, the allergen is instantly placed on the fur, so any canoodling with Fluffy will usually end up in a sneezing fit.
Also, please note that Fel D1 can also be found in your cats urine. So if your kitty has trouble relating to the litter box, and uses the rugging instead, each time you walk across your rugs, bits of dander will become airborne, thus increasing the concentration of allergen in the air.The fact that the dander is so small and light, means that when it begins to swirl in the air, it will linger there for a longer period of time. If that wasn’t enough, the Fel D1 can also be found in your pets sebaceous glands, which lie directly under the skin.
Some Cats are More Allergic Than Others
Surprisingly, some cats cause more allergy symptoms than others. For instance, neutered male cats will produce much less of the allergen than whose who are intact. Female cats, on the other hand, spayed or intact will generally produce less of the allergen. As for cat breeds, while there are no true, hypoallergenic cats, there are some breeds that tend to produce less Fel D1 than others. Cat breeds that are known to produce less Fel D1 are:
- Russian Blue
- Oriental shorthair
However, all is not lost. A March 2019 study found that a reduction in Fel D1 from cat saliva will decrease the amount of Fel D1 significantly. Researchers discovered that it was indeed possible to reduce the amount of Fel D1 to a point where there is no need to remove the cat from the premises, as those suffering from cat allergies, will suffer no more, and the food cats consume holds the answer.
Purina Enters The Picture
While it’s true that you can develop a tolerance to Fel D1, for some, it’s just not an option. In order to avoid the unpleasantness associated with cat ownership, some people take allergy shots, create cat free zones in their home, or purchase air purifiers. Still, those of us most sensitive to Fel D1 may only feel a tiny bit of relief. So, with the realization that you can’t really control cat allergies in the environment, pet food giant, Purina decided to take a proactive attempt to neutralize Fel D1 via the inside out. They decided the best course of action would to neutralize Fel D1 by adding the avian antibody IgY to the cats diet.
What Purina found, was that an avian antibody added to cat food did indeed neutralize Fel D1. According to the study, 105 cats were fed the antibody IgY for 10 weeks. As a result, the amount of Fel D1 protein was reduced by 47 percent. Next, they put the results to the test by conducting a small study involving 11 test subjects who were allergic to cats. The results stood solid: The test subjects reported experiencing less symptoms. Sadly, people cannot take the antibody, as it breaks down when it enters our system. however, there is a downside to all of this good news: The addition of the antibody to cat food seems to be most efficient with those who have moderate allergies. Those who have severe symptoms will not find the relief they crave.
Thanks to the Purina Institute, those who experience the uncomfortable symptoms of mild to moderate cat allergies will undergo the relief they so deserve. Scientists found that they could reduce Fel D1 from the inside out, as it were, by introducing the avian antibody IgY to cat food. As a result, those of you who suffer through the sniffles for the sake of your cat will suffer no more, and those who’ve been fearful of owning a cat, will finally be able to experience the joys they’ve always wanted. Keep in mind, that you’ll get the best result from the cat food if you decide on a breed such as the Cornish Rex or Sphinx, female or altered male, which naturally produce lesser amounts of Fel D1. By making such a choice, along with taking good care of your home, there’s a solid chance you may never suffer many sniffles, ever again.