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Cat Allergies

post #1 of 73
Thread Starter 

I was at a local cat shelter today, and I had an allergic reaction to one or more of the cats.

There is one cat I want (I picked it already), is there any sort of way I can test it to make sure it doesn't have any problems? It sheds a lot if that helps.

I heard the allergies will stay where ever they are if they are there, and the only way to get rid of them is to change out the place where the cat us (If the cat was on my carpet I'd need to replace all my carpet), so I really don't want him at my home until I can make sure there's nothing wrong.

Thank you!

- anon
post #2 of 73

I have severe cat allergies and a cat. If you aren't willing to deal with your allergies, you should not adopt a cat. I don't mean to be harsh, but there is no such thing as an allergy-free cat. It does not exist.

Individual cats can be less allergy-triggering for individual people, but if you are allergic to cats, you're allergic to cats.

There is a test you could have done by an allergist (a doctor, MD, specializing in allergies) where he would take the allergens from the cat and do a mostly painless procedure and watch your skin's reaction to it. There's a couple ways to do this.

If the reaction is severe, or if its not, then you would know how you would need to deal with your allergies.

I don't know about having to remove your carpet to get the cat allergens out. That might be true on a microscopic level, that there will be traces in there, but a carpet shampoo should be sufficient.

However, adopting a cat should be adoption for life. Til death do you part, barring SIGNIFICANT circumstances, of which being allergic, and having known so beforehand, are not.

I have tons of tips on how to deal with allergies, as do our other members with allergies and cats coexisting peacefully.
post #3 of 73
Thread Starter 
I think I'm going to call the shelter on Monday and ask them to take the cat into another area with no cats nearby.

There are about 400 cats there (I think that's what they said) so I might not have severe allergies but since I was by so many, it may be why it was so severe.

The strange thing is I've been near many cats (relatives/friends/etc.) with no problems.

Forgot to mention, I did see a bit of dander, but all cats I've seen have dander.

Or on Monday, I could contact my doctor and try that.

post #4 of 73
Thread Starter 
I found Allerpet, which seems to have good reviews. I know you can't fully remove allergies but hopefully this may help a bit.
post #5 of 73
That sounds like a plan! Just remember, shelter cats sometimes aren't as clean and groomed as they would be in their forever home, and remnants of all those other cats will be around.

If you do not typically have a reaction to friends' and relatives' cats, you probably don't have a very severe allergy.

I break out in hives, personally, and feel like I have a cold 24/7, when it is not being controlled. I'd say it's a moderate allergy. I am most allergic to intact males, though I have no idea why!

We have tons of tips around here, aside from just Allerpet. I've never tried it myself.

Try it out without medicating yourself first, and without doing anything extra with your cat, for a few weeks. If you are still allergic, you can try Claritin or Singulair (I'm on both) and Benadryl (cream for the hives, but pills too). Zissou gets a monthly bath (more often is bad for them), and a daily grooming and tooth-brushing. Cats fed high-quality food tend to have healthier coats and mouths, and so are less allergy-triggering. Vacuuming often and having washable slipcovers on things helps too!
post #6 of 73
most people are allergic to the dander. if you were around stressed or un clean cats it's possible you reacted to the dander not the hair... if you get a cat bathe it once a month and keep it brushed and on a healthy diet. be careful when you take it on trips or to the vets because cats will become stressed in this situation and shed fresh dander. you may or maynot need to bathe them after this. bathing is best done in water but some of the water less foams will work. the water free cloth wipes really don't do the trick though. make sure you wash your hands regularly after you go the the vets or on a trip and when you play with the cats. keep the house vacuumed regularly and you should be fine. some cats tend to be more allergenic than others. try to find a shorter coat that looks and feels soft and fairly dry. too glossy and oily with thick coat could be a no no for ya! good luck.
post #7 of 73
Thread Starter 
It's good to hear it's probably just the dander. While I was there, I filled out the application for adoption, since I had to physically be there to fill that out. They told me I could find out and cancel it if I needed to do so. So I said okay, and filled out the form so I wouldn't need to go back.

Luckily I won't need to cancel it. I will call them on Monday and inform them of my findings though, since they can deny the application if they feel I am not good enough to have a cat (and being "not good enough" would probably be being allergic to cats, since they'd figure I'd leave it out in the street or take it to the pound or something. If I got a cat I'd live with it until either my death or the cat's death). I'm also going to go to a friend's house with one or two (I'm actually not sure) cats, and pet them for about 30 minutes or so. That will give me more proof it's just being around 400 cats that will give me problems.

I was also breaking out in hives, my eyes were itching, and I was sneezing a lot. So I think we both have the same problems.

I actually do wonder, maybe I should get the cat and go right to a vet and have the vet do the cleaning the first time, so I don't need to touch the cat much while it can give me an allergic reaction. Of course, the next times I can do the cleaning.

On another note, what is considered "high-quality food"? They feed him Science Diet, so I'd like to stick with that because it's what he's used to, but is there a better alternative that I can easily get him on? Cost is not an issue if it means a health life for my cat!

Thank you!
post #8 of 73
If you are allergic to the cat dander of 400 cats and get hives from it, you will also have the same reaction to one cat.

have you reconsidered not adopting at all? It would be a shame to have to give the cat up because of allergies.
post #9 of 73
It is generally true that the more cats you have the more likely you are to have issues with allergies - but some people are allergic to some cats and not others. I had one cat in the past who triggered me quite a lot, as her fur was quite wiry. I have 6 at the moment (I foster) and my antihistamines aren't lasting a full day at the moment, but I dont wipe down cat fur from my furniture or bedding as much as I should, so prob my own fault. If there is a chance you will have to give this cat back because of allergies, then please dont adopt one - you could ask if they will let you foster one for a month or so to see how you react with it, we have done this when there have been allergies, and while it was an issue at first, they all settled down after about 6 weeks and are living happily together now (there were other issues though).
post #10 of 73
Thread Starter 
I'm not even sure if it is the dander. The only way to find out what reaction I'll have to this one cat is to have the shelter bring the cat out somewhere with no nearby cats.

If I do end up getting it, I'll keep it until its death, because there's no way I would return it or give it to someone else.

A big THANK YOU to everyone!
post #11 of 73
Originally Posted by AnonymousUser View Post
I'm not even sure if it is the dander. The only way to find out what reaction I'll have to this one cat is to have the shelter bring the cat out somewhere with no nearby cats.

If I do end up getting it, I'll keep it until its death, because there's no way I would return it or give it to someone else.

A big THANK YOU to everyone!

remember you can always go to your doctor and pick up some Allegra(us)/Telfast(uk) -prescription for your allergy or get regular allergy shots from a dermotologist if you are really serious about this. just make sure you wash your hands (get some anti bacterial water free hand wash) and put it in your bag when you go back or go visit your mate. then when you touch the cat don't touch your face! easy peasy.
post #12 of 73

I've used this any time a dander issue has come up in my house. It works just as well as any OTC allergy med, but doesn't have all the nasty chemicals.
post #13 of 73
Thread Starter 
Thank you!

I'm going to Petsmart today and I'm going to go to their cats section. If I don't have a reaction, I know it's something with that shelter.

They told me a few things they used for cleaning - Bleach and Simply Green. I use bleach so it's not that. But there's always a chance.
post #14 of 73
Thread Starter 
I just got back from Petsmart. The addoption center was closed, but they were cleaning it so the door was open. I was by the glass window and nothing happened. But I went to the fish section, and then I started noticing hives.

I didn't even touch anything though!

It seems the shelter cats will always have problems.

I'm going to call my doctor and ask about allergy meds. Thank you!
post #15 of 73
I think you have always had the predisposition to cat allergy but it did not reveal itself until your system was overloaded by cat dander. Now that it has been triggered it is unlikely it will go away. But one can be allergic to cats and live with one. I am very very allergic and take many steps to tolerate close and wonderful contact with my cat.

http://home.comcast.net/~swalicestreet/pets.html has a link to all the things one can do to live with cats and an allergy.

But dont go into this casually. Cats produce dander continually - it's the dry saliva on their fur when they groom...and you will need a serious commitment if this relationship is going to last. That cat doesn't need another loss because you are using it as "test" case.
post #16 of 73
Thread Starter 
Thanks again! I'll definitely give that a try. But which air purifier have you been using? I've seen the Sharper Image one on TV, the Oreck one, and a few "after-market" (I assume) ones, so I'm not sure which one works best.
post #17 of 73
BlueAir is unquestionably the best air filter. It's better made than the others and is rated best as an allergen remover. Check the sizes carefully; While they are expensive, some are wheeled and can be rolled into different rooms where you are sitting.
There is a whole website devoted to allergy prevention products. I use a 'bed bag' to keep away dust mites, and special laundry detergent that kills them too. I have two filters and the HEPA vacuum. The house cleaners are all organic. This was originally for Gizmo's benefit but of course it could not help but be good for me as well.
post #18 of 73
Wow. That BlueAir thing looks really interesting.

I have a Sharper Image one (the Ionic Breeze Quadra) and it does its job, I suppose. It usually gets a thick white film over it about once a week. As soon as I got it and turned it on, the air felt different... I don't know how to describe it. If you can afford it, I would get your central heating and a/c done with HEPA filters (so it would be like the BlueAir), and then get one of these too.

Don't get the Oreck one. I've seen them working and they're just a fan with an air filter like you have in your a/c. The demo looks good, but that's because the stuff they're comparing it to isn't meant to do what they're saying it doesn't do. Duh!

Keep us updated on your possible kitty!
post #19 of 73
Thread Starter 
Unfortunately, the shelter just called and told me they can't accept me due to the fact I'm allergic to cats

I wonder, though, if I can get on some medication and go back there to show them I'm okay, and fill out another application, if they'd accept me. That sounds like it might work.

Thank you!
post #20 of 73
I'm allergic to cats and volunteered at the shelter, and now have 2 kitties.

The first few weeks at the shelter were ridiculous - I was sneezing constantly, my nose and eyes were constantly watering, my sinuses were aching... I felt like I'd been hit by a truck. But I'm always like that around new cats.

And I'd be fine with friends cats, but was so much worse at the shelter. After a bit of time, my body built up resistance to the dander, and I was fine with the kitties. Whenever I was gone for more than a week though, then went back - my allergies would go nuts again.

With the mother and 5 kittens we fostered, we both sneezed like mad for a few days, and it settled down.

The last cat we fostered we were both fine with (maybe because it was just one cat, or was low in dander), and we adopted her, then added a new kitten to the household recently, and are once again both fine.

You do build up a resistance, and if after a few weeks of having a cat your allergies don't settle down, then you can do like many other members here do who are allergic to cats, as they have already described.

Try taking antihistamines and going back in there with the cat and see what happens...
post #21 of 73
Thread Starter 
It's good to know it's probably going to be okay, as long as I can prove to the shelter that I'll be fine with a cat.

What I think I'll do tomorrow morning (it's 10:25 PM here) is call one of my friends with a cat, and I'll go over to their house, and see if I have an allergic reaction. If not (as I expect), we'll both go to the shelter and let them actually see that I shouldn't have a bad reaction to one cat, and fill out another application.

Thank you so much!
post #22 of 73
Thread Starter 
I know this thread is almost 2 months old, but I figured I'd update it.

After the shelter told me they couldn't accept me, I thought it was basically the end of the story. But I now have an allergic reaction to dogs, too. I realize the problem is probably just going to get worse, so I'm going to a doctor tomorrow morning to see about getting an allergy medication.

I spoke with a friend of mine who was a nurse, and she told me it was severe, and that if I had stayed any longer I'd probably be in the emergency room. So I don't think it's safe to try out without an allergy medication. (I'll at least get on the medication for 2 weeks or so, and then go to my friend's house with cats. If that's okay, I'll fill out another application and get out of the shelter as fast as possible.)

Thanks again!
post #23 of 73
Originally Posted by AnonymousUser View Post
I'm not even sure if it is the dander. The only way to find out what reaction I'll have to this one cat is to have the shelter bring the cat out somewhere with no nearby cats.
I don't think that's a good measure of figuring out whether your allergic to a certain cat or not. The only difference might be degrees of reaction, but you WILL be allergic to all cats if you are allergic to one. Allergies build up overtime, so even if you don't show signs immediately, you might start having worse and worse reactions later on as you become more sensitive to whatever it is that's making you allergic.

Are you sure it's the cats you're allergic to? It could also be some cleaner, or litter, or some sort of dust (steel powder, urine crystals, etc). Or it might even be dogs your allergic to (rare, but exists). An easy test to see if you're allergic to cats is get scratched or bitten (even the slightest scratch or bite will work, try some rough play with a kitten). If you get real puffy around the scratch/bite area, it's a good sign you're allergic. Slight red swelling is a given, almost anyone will do that, but really puffing out, skin turning white, and itchy like hives is what you're looking for. If you get that kind of a reaction, I would think twice about adopting a cat.

**Oops, haha, posted kinda late, didn't see the other posts. If your allergies are that severe, should you really be considering adopting a cat? You can potentially get an anaphylactic reaction and go into shock and die if you get bitten or scratched, even by accident.
post #24 of 73
I have used acupuncture to treat allergies, though yours might be too severe...

You can pay someone to foster a cat instead of keeping it yourself. I am sponsoring a handsome orange boy and an older female cat at a local group. It's almost like having two extra pets.
post #25 of 73
Thread Starter 
It's not any cleaning thing, I don't think. I've been in PetSmart a lot for my fish, and I don't have an allergic reaction unless I'm in the dog/cat section. I'd assume that if they used something for cleaning that I'm allergic to, it would be in the whole store.

My physician refused to prescribe an antihistamine. My insurance doesn't cover an allergist, and I believe a physician COULD prescribe it, so I was hoping he would.

I'm being laid off at work though, and hopefully, once I find another job, my new insurance will cover that.

I might try paying someone to foster the cat, that way, I can get allergy shots, and when I'm immune to cats, it can move to my place. (Do you think he'd try to eat my betta fish, or is that just not the kind of fish cats eat?)

post #26 of 73
My husband is allergic to cats and dogs. His parents would never let him have pets as a kid because of his allergies.

We have three cats and a very long haired dog. He's fine around our furballs (sometimes he gets sneezy and sniffly, but not that bad), but still allergic to other peoples' pets. He can't breathe in a shelter or pet store.

Have you tried any OTC allergy meds, like Claritin? That works pretty well for me. I'm generally not allergic to animals, but some dogs (Pomeranians, mostly. Sometimes Dalmations, too.) give me sneezing fits at work and popping a Claritin helps. My husband takes prescription Allegra when he visits friends with pets, but Claritin helped him before he had the Rx.
post #27 of 73
Thread Starter 
I just saw a commercial tonight for Claritin D. I didn't realize it was non-prescription. I'll be picking some up, and trying that.

Thanks again!
post #28 of 73
I have severe outdoor/indoor and food allergies. I am allergic to cats and dogs. I now have Iris that I found outside near work and 6 dogs. We do not have carpeting in our house anymore, we have tile and laminate thru the whole house. sheets/bedspreads get changed every week, throw rugs aired out and washed every 2 wks, plus I'm on zyrtec and advair due to the severity of them. I've notice the past week my eyes getting yucky and sinus headaches again, but I'm not overly concerned about it yet since I will be starting up with allergy shots in January (luckily ins. covers it) and 4 shots a wk for the first 6 wks and I'll be on my way to developing a tolerance again. (This all started last year, never allergic to anything but oaktrees until last year, UGH) so there is hope
post #29 of 73
Wow i am sorry your allergies are this bad! I didnt know this was so serious.

I am allergic to cats, and I undertook the responsibility of owning one with this knowledge. I dont take anything for it, just keep my house insanely clean. My allergies are extremely bad, i'll sneeze and look horrible for 3-4 days and then it will tone itself down. I just keep a habit of vacumming the beds, moping the floors and giving Ceci a good brush over. Most times after holding her i'll sneeze quite a few times but its not the same as it was in the begining.

Good luck with your decision!
post #30 of 73
Thread Starter 
I bought some Claritin. The pharmacy told me that one of my other medications might not work well with the Claritin, so they told me to see my doctor before taking it. I had to wait to set an appt. about it, so I have it okay'd now.

I'm going to take it tomorrow. As it's an antihistamine, has anyone had problems with it not working after taking it for a few months? I worry about that if I do get a cat. (I'd hate for it to stop working one day and land me in the emergency room because of the reaction.)

- AnonymousUser
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