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Can cats cause asthma in humans?

Do you suffer from asthma? Have you ever wondered if your cat may be a contributing factor? Here, our vets in Snellville discuss whether cats can cause their humans to have asthma and how to help reduce the allergens in your home.

Can cats cause asthma?

Asthma is a respiratory condition that causes airways to narrow and produce excess mucus, leading to difficulty breathing. If you have allergic asthma, particular allergens in your environment can trigger your attacks. The most common allergens include air pollution, cleaning products, dogs, and cats. The severity and frequency of asthma attacks may vary from person to person, but typical symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing.

How can your cat cause asthma or allergy attacks?

Cats can trigger your asthma through their urine, saliva, or dander.

  • Urine: Your cat's urine contains a protein called Felis Domesticus 1 (Fel D1), which can trigger asthma symptoms in some people when inhaled.
  • Saliva: Kitty's saliva contains Fel D1 and albumin, two proteins that can cause problems for people with asthma. Even if your cat doesn't lick you, you can still be exposed to these proteins. When cats groom themselves, the proteins in their saliva can stick to their skin, fur, or dander and can be inhaled, causing an allergic reaction in some people. 
  • Dander: Dander is your pet's dead skin cells, found on furniture and floating in the air. They can easily be inhaled and cause you to have an asthma attack.

How to Reduce Cat Allergens in Your Home

Unfortunately, if you have asthma, having a cat in your home is bound to cause your condition to flare up more frequently than it would if you chose a pet-free lifestyle.

If you have asthma but don't want to give up your cat, taking the medications prescribed by your doctor is the first step to reducing your symptoms. Another important step is to minimize your exposure to cat allergens in your home.

Here are some tips to help you reduce these allergens and live more comfortably with your feline companion:

  • Consider installing a HEPA air filter in your home to improve the air quality and reduce allergens. Additionally, to keep allergies at bay, keep your cat outside as much as possible when the weather is nice. However, be mindful of extreme weather conditions, such as very hot, cold, or wet, and ensure your cat is safe and comfortable.
  • Wash your hands immediately after petting your cat.
  • Frequent vacuuming can help to reduce the amount of cat hair and dander in your home. Models equipped with a HEPA filter are particularly good at reducing household allergens and may help reduce the frequency of asthma attacks. 
  • Regularly bathing your cat can significantly reduce the dander in your home. Although many cats are not fond of water, if you introduce them to bathing when they are young, they can get used to it and even start enjoying the process.
  • Keep your cat out of your bedroom, and do not let it sleep on your bed or beside you to prevent breathing problems caused by dander.
  • Wash your bedding frequently to rid sheets and blankets of any allergens.
  • Dust your home frequently with a damp cloth to help trap and remove allergens from furniture and other surfaces.
  • Resist relaxing with your cat on your lap. If you allow your cat on your lap, change and wash your clothes frequently to remove problematic allergens.

Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds

If you desire a pet cat but suffer from asthma, you may want to consider adopting a hypoallergenic breed. These breeds have been specifically bred to produce less of the problematic Fel D1 protein, which can cause asthma attacks.

However, it's important to note that these breeds are not guaranteed not to trigger asthma attacks. Therefore, it's best to spend time with them before committing to owning one. Before investing your money and emotions, determine whether a hypoallergenic breed will be a good choice for you.

Here are some hypoallergenic cat breeds that you may want to consider:

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

Not Everyone Can Own a Cat

It's important to acknowledge that even if you're a cat lover, you may be unable to live with one due to allergies. However, there are ways to potentially reduce your exposure to allergens, allowing you to maintain a loving relationship with your feline companion.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Did you find the perfect new hypoallergenic addition to your home? Don't forget to schedule their first vet checkup. Contact our veterinarians in Snellville today to make an appointment.

New Patients Welcome

Snellville Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Snellville companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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