Cat AllergyCat allergy is the most common pet allergy and up to 40% of asthma sufferers are sensitive to cats.
A tiny protein particle, the "Fel d 1" allergen, is found in the cat's skin flakes and saliva. This is deposited on the fur by the cat licking itself. It is shed into the air and can be deposited on the walls and clothing in the home. The cat allergen may remain airborne for months due to its small size. If breathed in by the allergy sufferer, it will lead to an allergic reaction within minutes. These allergic reactions usually include itchy eyes and nose, sneezing, asthma and itchy skin rashes.
In some studies it has been shown that over 80%of asthmatic children whose home contained a cat at the time of their birth and during the first year of their life, will develop a cat allergy. While less than 40% of asthmatic children whose homes contained either no cat or a cat after the first year of life will develop a cat allergy. The cat allergen is much more likely to cause sensitisation than that of the dog. The cat allergen can also cause allergies by being brought into homes where no cats live, for example on a person's clothing. This has been noted to occur quite commonly in the school class-room setting.
Cat allergen avoidance measuresRemoval of the cat from the home followed by thorough vacuuming of the carpets, floors and bedding is the only sure way of getting rid of its allergy-provoking protein. I
The cat should also be kept out of doors as much as possible and banned from the allergy sufferers bedroom. These measures, together with wiping down of the bedroom walls with a damp cloth to remove allergen deposits, regular airing of the home, and thorough vacuum cleaning, will reduce the level of cat allergen. A special exhaust filter should be fitted to the vacuum cleaner to prevent the small allergen particles from going straight through the machine and back into the air.
Face masks can be used when cleaning or brushing the cat, and clothes should be changed after contact with a cat. It can take up to 6 months to sufficiently reduce household levels of the tiny cat allergen.