The Truth About Cat Allergens

October 24, 2020
cat allergies

If you are reading this, you probably love cats. Cats are beautiful and elegant and so tempting to cuddle. It can be hard to resist, even if that cuddle causes discomfort.

It’s a common misconception that cat allergens arise from your cat’s fur. The truth is that the allergens actually come from the saliva of cats. Which is why, in reality, there is no such thing as a “hypoallergenic cat”; even the hairless sphinx will produce allergens. The most common cat saliva allergen is Fel d 1, which spreads to the cats’ hair during grooming — and then spreads throughout the environment in the hair and dander (microscopic skin cells that animals and humans shed naturally).

Since Fel d 1 is very sticky, and hairs and cells are very light, Fel d 1 can be found wherever air movement takes hair and cells. Even a “cat-free” area in a home will never be free from this allergen. In fact, despite the absence of cats, Fel d 1 has been found in an Arctic research facility and in schools.

Cat allergens can strain the relationship between humans and their kitties. If allergens are an issue, cats are often barred from certain areas of the house and discouraged from interacting with certain family members which can cause stress for the cat. For their family members, additional time and effort for cleaning as well as other discomforts are a factor. In some cases, cats are eventually rehomed.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful for cats and their people to have a way to improve their relationship and lifestyle? Fortunately, there are options, including specially formulated diets that can neutralize Fel 1 d in your cat’s saliva, as well as steps to reduce the presence of allergens in your home.

Want to learn more about cat allergens from Cat Healthy Feline Specialists Dr. Margie Scherk and Dr. Liz O’Brien? Check out the replay of our Facebook Live Event “Hypoallergenic Cats & Other Myths”.

This article was written by feline specialist Dr. Margie Scherk DVM, DABVP and sponsored by Purina®.

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