You may like to joke that your cat is allergic to you. If your kitties frequently hide, only emerging to let you know they’re hungry or to wake you up at 5 a.m. for no apparent reason, saying they’re allergic to people is a funny gag.
But there’s a chance — albeit a very small one — that it’s true. Scientists say cats can be allergic to people. However, it’s extremely rare. Michelle Burch, D.V.M., from Safe Hounds Pet Insurance has never had a case in her practice.
“Humans bathe frequently,” Dr. Burch says. “Thankfully, that helps cut down on the dander and allergies that are there.”
There’s actually a better chance that your cat isn’t allergic to you but something you use on your skin or to clean your home. Dr. Burch shares ways to recognize and diagnose cat allergies and what you can do to keep cats comfortable (and maybe become more willing to cuddle with you).
What are the signs my cat is allergic to me?
Though Dr. Burch says it’s unlikely your cat is allergic to you, she knows it can happen. Cats who are allergic to humans will display certain allergy symptoms.
“The most common symptoms you’ll see is that your cat is going to be pretty itchy,” Dr. Burch says. “There is going to be fur loss, redness of the skin, scabbing and open sores.”
You may also notice rodent ulcers or inflamed and swollen lips. Cats may also develop chronic sneezing.
What are some other reasons my cat’s allergy symptoms appear worse around me?
While your cat probably isn’t allergic to you, some cats are allergic or sensitive to certain fragrances.
“Any perfumes or body spray with high-scent fragrances, even the heavily-perfumed body washes can cause reactions in cats,” Dr. Burch warns. “Air freshener plug-ins can be very strong to where they end up causing irritation to cats.”
Scented waxes, essential oils and incense may also be causing Kitty to sneeze. And a certain bad habit may also be making them uncomfortable.
“If you are a smoker and smoke in the house or near your cat, the nicotine and smoke can also cause irritation to your cat’s respiratory system,” Dr. Burch says.
What should I do if I think my cat is allergic to me (or something else in my house)?
If you suspect your cat is allergic to you, speak with your vet. They will likely write you a referral for a dermatologist. The dermatologist usually runs allergy testing by pricking the cat’s skin with a small amount of suspected allergens to see how Kitty reacts.
If your cat is allergic to you, that doesn’t mean you need to get rid of them.
“Treatment for [a cat’s] human allergies is immunotherapy, so they would get allergy injections to help desensitize the immune system to react to human dander and hairs,” Dr. Burch says.
She also suggests using a vacuum with a HEPA filter and putting one on your air conditioning unit.
“It will get your dander and the skin cells that accumulate in the environment out,” Dr. Burch says.
HEPA filters can also help if your cat is allergic to fragrances you use on your body or home, though Dr. Burch recommends nixing perfumes and heavily-scented body washes if you can. As for keeping your air smelling fresh, try a charcoal pillow instead of plug-ins.
“The charcoal grabs odors out and helps freshen the air,” Dr. Burch says.
Featured Image: FXQuadro/Getty Images
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