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Can cats cause asthma attacks in people?

Can cats cause asthma attacks in people?

While it's true that your feline friend may be causing your asthma to act up, there are things that you can do that may help minimize the effect. Today we look at how cats cause asthma and what you can do to help reduce the effects of the cat related allergens in your home.

Allergic Asthma

Asthma is a respiratory condition which causes inflammation and swollen bronchial tubes and leads to serious breathing difficulties in some people.

If you suffer from allergic asthma, your attacks are triggered by exposure to an allergen in your environment. A number of different allergens can trigger an asthma attack such as air pollution and household cleaning products or pets. 

If your pet is the trigger for your asthma attacks it could be due exposure to your cat's urine, saliva or dander.

  • Cat urine contains a protein called Felis Domesticus 1 (Fel D1) which can trigger asthma symptoms if inhaled.
  • Kitty's saliva also contains Fel D1 as well as another protein called albumin which can also be problematic for some people. Even if your cat doesn't lick you, the proteins found in the salvia can stick to your cat's skin after grooming, and can be found on fur or dander which can be inhaled.
  • Dander is the dead skin cells that are shed from your cat. Dander can be found on furniture or floating in the air where it can easily be inhaled and cause an asthma attack.

Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds

If you'd love to get a feline friend but suffer from allergic asthma triggered by cats, you may want to consider hypoallergenic cats. Although there is no guarantee that these breeds will prevent asthma attacks from happening, they have been specially bred to produce less of the problematic Fel D1 protein and can be a better choice for some people.

Be sure to spend some time with these cat's before committing. It's best to find out whether or not these cats trigger your asthma attacks before laying down your hard earned cash.  A few hypoallergenic breeds of cat you may want to consider:

  • Balinese
  • Javanese
  • Devon Rex
  • Siberian
  • Sphynx
  • Russian Blue
  • Cornish Rex
  • Oriental Shorthair
  • Colorpoint Shorthair
  • Laperm
  • Bengal
  • Ocicat

How to Help Reduce Cat Related Allergens in Your Home

If you have asthma and are allergic to cats, choosing to have a cat in your home is bound to be a challenging undertaking. Your cat is likely to cause your asthma to flare up more frequently than it would if you choose to live cat-free. That said, if you are looking for ways to reduce the severity or frequency of your allergy related asthma attacks, taking any medications prescribed by your doctor for your asthma is going to be step one, another key step to living harmoniously with your cat will be to reduce the cat related allergens in your home.

Here are a few tips on how you may be able to reduce cat related allergens in your home:

  • If your cat is an outdoor cat, give them lots of time to enjoy the great outdoors whenever weather permits. Be mindful of very hot, cold or wet weather but allow them to enjoy time outside whenever the weather is nice, to help reduce allergens in your home.
  • Vacuuming can help you to reduce the amount of cat hair and dander in your home, and may help to reduce the number of allergy related asthma attacks you experience. Vacuum cleaners equipped with a HEPA filter are particularly good at reducing allergens. 
  • Ok, so we know this may not be a solution for everyone but bathing your cat can help to significantly reduce dander in your home. Introducing bathing to your cat while they are young, can get them used to the process, and some cats even learn to enjoy it.
  • Don't allow your cat to sleep with you. In fact, you may want to keep your cat out of the bedroom altogether to prevent dander and other allergens from interfering with your breathing while you sleep.
  • Wash your bedding frequently to rid sheets and blankets of any allergens that have made their way into your bedroom.
  • Dust your home with a damp cloth to help trap and remove allergens from furniture and other surfaces in your home. Once you have finished dusting simply throw the cloth in the wash.
  • Consider purchasing a HEPA air filter for your home. Many people find that air filters help to reduce allergens and improve their breathing.
  • If you enjoy spending time relaxing with your cat on your lap, be sure to change and wash your clothes frequently to remove allergens.
  • Always wash your hands well after petting your cat.

The Bottom Line When It Comes To Cat Allergies & Asthma

The fact is that even if you love cats, you may not be able to live with one. That said, some folks may find that following the tips above helps to reduce asthma attacks sufficiently to keep their feline friendship going strong.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always follow your doctors advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms. 

At Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Huntersville, our vets and board-certified specialists are experienced, caring professionals that work closely with primary care veterinarians and pet owners to provide the highest level of specialty and emergency veterinary care for North Carolina. Contact us for more information CVS Huntersville.

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At Carolina Veterinary Specialists, we accept new clients to our specialty services by referral. Our 24/7 emergency service accepts all clients.

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