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Can cats cause asthma in humans?

Do you ever wonder if your cat might be causing your asthma? At Jackson Animal Clinic, we understand how much you love your feline friend, but it's possible that they could be a trigger for your asthma. If you're not ready to part ways with your cat, our vets in Jackson have shared some tips that may help reduce the frequency of your asthma attacks.

Allergic Asthma Triggered by Cats

Asthma is a respiratory condition that causes airways to narrow and produce excess mucus, leading to difficulty breathing. If you have allergic asthma, particular allergens in your environment can trigger your attacks. Some of the most common allergens include air pollution, cleaning products, dogs, and cats. The severity and frequency of asthma attacks may vary from person to person, but typical symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing.

Allergic Asthma Triggers

Cats can trigger your asthma through their urine, saliva, or dander.

  • Urine - Your cat's urine contains a protein called Felis Domesticus 1 (Fel D1), which can trigger asthma symptoms in some people when inhaled.
  • Saliva - Kitty's saliva contains Fel D1 and albumin, two proteins that can cause problems for people with asthma. Even if your cat doesn't lick you, you can still be exposed to these proteins. When cats groom themselves, the proteins in their saliva can stick to their skin, fur, or dander and can be inhaled, causing an allergic reaction in some people. 
  • Dander - Dander is your pet's dead skin cells, which can be found on furniture and floating in the air. They can easily be inhaled and cause you to have an asthma attack.

Ways to Reduce Cat-Related Allergens at Home

Unfortunately, if you have asthma, having a cat in your home is bound to cause your condition to flare up more frequently than it would if you chose a pet-free lifestyle.

If you have asthma but don't want to give up your cat, taking the medications prescribed by your doctor is the first step to reducing your symptoms. Another important step is to minimize your exposure to cat allergens in your home.

Here are some tips to help you reduce these allergens and live more comfortably with your feline companion:

  • Consider installing a HEPA air filter in your home to improve the air quality and reduce allergens. Additionally, to keep allergies at bay, try to keep your cat outside as much as possible when the weather is nice. However, be mindful of extreme weather conditions, such as very hot, cold, or wet, and ensure your cat is safe and comfortable.
  • Wash your hands immediately after petting your cat.
  • Frequent vacuuming can help to reduce the amount of cat hair and dander in your home. Models equipped with a HEPA filter are particularly good at reducing household allergens and may help reduce the frequency of asthma attacks. 
  • Regularly bathing your cat can significantly reduce dander in your home. We understand that many cats are not fond of water, but if you introduce them to bathing when they are young, they can get used to it and even start enjoying the process.
  • Prevent breathing problems caused by dander by keeping your cat out of your bedroom and not letting them sleep on your bed or next to you.
  • Wash your bedding frequently to rid sheets and blankets of any allergens.
  • Dust your home frequently with a damp cloth to help trap and remove allergens from furniture and other surfaces.
  • Resist relaxing with your cat on your lap. If you allow your cat on your lap, change and wash your clothes frequently to remove problematic allergens.

Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds

If you desire a pet cat but suffer from asthma you may want to consider adopting a hypoallergenic breed. These breeds have been specifically bred to produce less of the problematic Fel D1 protein, which can cause asthma attacks.

However, it's important to note that there are no guarantees that these breeds will not trigger your asthma attacks. Therefore, it's best to spend time with them before committing to owning one.

Before investing your money and emotions, determine whether a hypoallergenic breed will be a good choice for you.

Here are some hypoallergenic cat breeds that you may want to consider:

  • Balinese
  • Javanese
  • Devon Rex
  • Siberian
  • Sphynx
  • Russian Blue
  • Cornish Rex
  • Oriental Shorthair
  • Colorpoint Shorthair
  • LaPerm
  • Bengal
  • Ocicat

The Truth About Owning a Cat if You Have Asthma

It's important to acknowledge that even if you're a cat lover, you may be unable to live with one due to allergies. However, there are ways to potentially reduce your exposure to allergens, allowing you to maintain a loving relationship with your feline companion.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Contact our veterinarians in Jackson if you are interested in adopting a hypoallergenic cat. We are always here to provide assistance.

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Jackson Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Jackson companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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