You may want to joke that your cat is allergic to you. If your kitties are hiding a lot, it’s a fun gag to show up just to let you know they’re hungry or to wake you up at 5 a.m. for no apparent reason.
But there is a chance, albeit a very small one, that it is true. Scientists say cats can be allergic to humans. However, it is extremely rare. Michelle Burch, DVM of Safe Hounds Pet Insurance, has never had a case in her practice.
“People bathe frequently,” says Dr. Burch. “Thankfully, this helps reduce the dander and allergies that are out there.”
In fact, there’s a better chance your cat is allergic to something that you use on your skin or to clean your home, not to you. Dr. Burch shares ways to identify and diagnose cat allergies and what you can do to make cats comfortable (and perhaps more willing to cuddle with them).
What are the signs that my cat is allergic to me?
Although Dr. Burch says your cat is unlikely to be allergic to you, she knows this can happen. Cats that are allergic to humans show certain allergy symptoms.
“The most common symptoms you’ll see are that your cat is going to be quite itchy,” says Dr. Burch. “There will be coat loss, reddening of the skin, scabbing and open wounds.”
You may also notice rodent ulcers or sore and swollen lips. Cats can also develop chronic sneezing.
What are some other reasons why my cat’s allergy symptoms are seeming worse around me?
While your cat is unlikely to be allergic to you, some cats are allergic or sensitive to certain fragrances.
“Any perfume or body spray with a scented scent, even the heavily perfumed body wash, can cause reactions in cats,” warns Dr. Burch. “Air freshener plug-ins can be very powerful at irritating cats.”
Scented waxes, essential oils, and frankincense can also cause kitty to sneeze. And a certain bad habit can make them uncomfortable too.
“If you are a smoker and smoke in or around your cat’s house, nicotine and smoke can also irritate your cat’s airways,” says Dr. Burch.
What should I do if I think my cat is allergic to me (or something else in my house)?
If you suspect your cat may be allergic to you, speak to your veterinarian. They will likely write you a referral for a dermatologist. The dermatologist usually does allergy testing by pricking the cat’s skin with a small amount of suspected allergens to see how kitty is reacting.
If your cat is allergic to you, it doesn’t mean you need to get rid of it.
“Treatment for [a cat’s] Allergies in humans are immunotherapies, so they would receive allergy shots to desensitize the immune system and respond to human dander and hair, ”says Dr. Burch.
She also suggests using a vacuum with a HEPA filter and attaching one to your air conditioner.
“It’ll pull out your dander and the skin cells that build up in the environment,” says Dr. Burch.
HEPA filters can also help if your cat is allergic to fragrances that you use in your body or at home. Dr. However, Burch recommends mixing perfumes and heavy-scented body washes if you can. Try using a charcoal pillow instead of plug-ins to keep your air smelling fresh.
“The charcoal absorbs odors and helps freshen the air,” says Dr. Burch.
Featured image: FXQuadro / Getty Images
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