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Is my cat causing my asthma attacks?

Is my cat causing my asthma attacks?

Unfortunately, it's true that your feline friend may be causing your asthma to act up. That said, if you aren't ready to find a new home for your kitty just yet, there are some things that you can do to help reduce the amount of cat-related allergens in your home, and possibly help to reduce your risk of allergic asthma attacks. 

Cat Related Allergic Asthma

Asthma is a respiratory condition characterized by the narrowing of the airways and production of extra mucus which leads to difficulties breathing. The severity and frequency of asthma attacks vary greatly from one person to another, but symptoms typically include coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

Those who suffer from allergic asthma, experience attacks triggered by their exposure to an allergen in their environment. There is a vast range of allergens that can trigger asthma attacks such as air pollution and household cleaning products, dogs and cats. 

If your cat is causing your asthma attacks it may be due to exposure to your cat's urine, saliva or dander, here's why.

  • Feline urine contains a protein called Felis Domesticus 1 (Fel D1) which can trigger asthma symptoms in some people when inhaled.
  • Cat saliva also contains Fel D1 as well as another protein called albumin which can also be problematic for some people with asthma. Proteins found in your cat's salvia may stick to their skin while grooming and can be found on fur or dander which can be inhaled.
  • Dander is your cat's dead skin cells, and can be found on furniture or floating in the air where it can easily be inhaled and cause an asthma attack.

Tips 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.

Having a cat in your home is likely to cause your asthma to flare up more frequently than it would if you chose to live cat-free. Nonetheless, if you are looking for ways to reduce your allergy-related asthma symptoms, taking 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 your exposure to cat-related allergens in your home. Here are a few tips on how you may be able to reduce asthma causing allergens in your home:

  • Allow your cat to explore the great outdoors. Keep your cat outside as much as possible when 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.
  • Reduce the amount of cat hair and dander in your home by vacuuming frequently. Vacuum cleaners equipped with a HEPA filter are particularly good at reducing allergens and may help to reduce your allergic asthma symptoms. 
  • Bathing your cat can help to significantly reduce dander in your home. We understand that many cats hate water, but introducing bathing to your cat while they are young, can get them used to the process, and some cats even learn to enjoy it.
  • Do not let your cat sleep with you. Keeping your cat out of the bedroom altogether helps 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 do make their way into your bedroom.
  • Use a damp cloth to dust your home. A damp cloth helps trap and remove allergens from furniture and other surfaces in your home. Once you have finished dusting simply throw the cloth in the wash.
  • Install a HEPA air filter for your home. Many people find that air filters help to significantly reduce allergens and improve the air quality in their home.
  • If you relax with your cat on your lap, be sure to change and wash your clothes frequently to remove problematic allergens.
  • Always wash your hands well after petting your cat.

A Hypoallergenic Cat Breed May Help

If you're longing for a feline friend but suffer from allergic asthma triggered by cats, you may want to consider hypoallergenic cats. While 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 cats 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

The fact is that even if you love cats, you may not be able to have one live with you. That said, in some cases it may be possible to sufficiently reduce the allergens you are exposed to so that you can enjoy a loving relationship with your feline friend.

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 doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms. 

Our Matthews 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 Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Matthews for more information CVS Matthews.

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