Unfortunately, many children will not exhibit signs of being allergic to cats or dogs until they are toddlers. When allergies do show up, or a new pet comes into the home and triggers a family member’s allergic reaction, what do you do? While some people opt to rehome their cat or kitten, others find that with some extra work, it is possible to co-exist with cats when you are allergic to cats.

Most people that are allergic to cats are actually allergic to something called Fel d1, which is a protein found in a cat’s saliva and skin. When a cat cleans itself, the Fel d1 becomes airborne, and seeks a moist place to live, often taking hold in the eye or nose, and triggering the allergic reactions that often include itchy, burning or watery eyes, running nose, sniffles, sneezes or throat irritation.

If you suspect that someone in your family may be allergic to cats, the first step is finding out for certain. This can be easily determined with a skin allergy test. Once the cause of the allergy has been confirmed, treatment options can be discussed with your provider. Common treatments for allergies include prescription medications or rush immunotherapy (allergy shots).

Ramie Tritt M.D., President, Atlanta ENT