Thursday, August 1, 2013

Do You Still Have Your Cat?: Cat Allergies & Me


Would you believe that me, cat lover extraordinaire, is allergic to cats??? When I was a little girl I went through every test in the book to find out what was causing my allergies, and when the results came back the list was a mile long. One of the things on that list was cats. I'll never forget at my very next visit with the allergist my mother was asked if we still had our cat.

Seriously??? I'm allergic to grass and a multitude of other things outside but I can't live indoors for the rest of my life, can I? There was no way in haides I was going to live without the companionship of the little furry angels that brought me more happiness than anything in the world; I would put up with the allergies and learn to adjust. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, nearly 10 million other people feel the way I do...they choose to share their lives with cats and dogs in spite of their allergies.

I actually never even had a reaction to a cat until Tara came along. Her fur was very thick and must have been different from my previous pets because the first summer she lived with me my allergies were terrible; I even had to wear a mask to brush her! But after a couple months my system must have gotten used to her and I never had a problem again.

Lately I've been reading that relief for those affected more than me may be in sight! Scientists at Cambridge University have isolated the protein in cat dander that combines with a chemical found in humans to trigger allergies in one in ten people. According to Dr. Clare Bryant, the study’s lead author:
“When cats lick themselves they spread saliva, hormones and skin cells on to their coat. When the hair falls out, it is proteins in this dandruff stuck on their fur that people are allergic to. How cat dander causes such a severe allergic reaction in some people has long been a mystery. This is the first time we have discovered the process that leads to the allergic reaction. It opens up a whole new type of drug to treat it.”
Up until now the only cure has been antihistamines that carry other adverse side effects or injections that build up your tolerance, but as more information comes to light as to what causes the allergy, predictions are that within five years new drugs could be on the market to block the body's reaction to the allergen instead of just treating the symptoms.

Just think...millions of people who up until now have been unable to share their home with cats will now be able to ADOPT!!!

17 comments:

  1. That is the most incredible news! I heard that too and I think that is a happy new development!
    I think it is cool that after a while your allergies became LESS once your body became used to your kitty! I admire your perseverance!

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    1. Thanks Caren; unless I was gasping for my last breath I'd put up with the symptoms LOL

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  2. I am allergic to cats and I have three cats. I take allergy pills

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    1. I'm so glad you've found a way to have your fur babies in spite of the allergies.

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  3. I'm thankful that I am not allergic, but even if I was I would still have my furry friends! How wonderful, if a new treatment is possible!

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    1. It's just impossible to live without them, I agree.

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  4. Won't it be nice when they do come up with an easy way to cure cat allergies.. imagine the kitties that won't be given up

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    1. It's the best news I've heard in a long time :)

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  5. Woohooo!! How amazing it would be for cat lovers with allergies (to series to put up with) to be able to adopt! I agree though that most allergies can be overcome. Both of my sisters had horrid allergies to all animals, but after constant daily exposure (you can't give up animals like you give up milk!!) to cats, dogs, horses etc within a year or two they were almost symptom free.

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    1. I'm so glad your sisters persevered and didn't give up; I can't help but think that in many cases people say they're allergic to animals as a cop out.

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  6. Wonderful news! I couldn't imagine living without my furbabies so it's good to know that a solution is in the making for those that can't have them due to allergies.

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    1. To me, life without them would be worse than suffering through the allergies!

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  7. That's great news. We have been the same. Some animals affect us more than others. My daughter goes for animals that are low allergy. I'm usually okay with short haired, as long as the dogs don't lick me, cats are okay. My brother-in-law built up a resistance to my sister's cat just the way you described when they first met.

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    1. Resistance is a wonderful thing, isn't it :)

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  8. It certainly IS wonderful news. I was so allergic to cats as a child that even being in the same room with one would cause a severe reaction. Suffice it to say, we were not allowed to have cats. But I always loved them, and always wanted one. Imagine my delight when sometime in my teens I began to "outgrow" my cat allergy. We were able to get a cat, and I just had to be careful not to touch my face and eyes without first washing my hands. I am still allergic to *some* cats -- it's absolutely the dander of certain kitties that does it. But we have our own cats (to whom I've built up a resistance) AND my wife and I volunteer at least six hours per week with the cats at our local shelter. Some new cats will set me off once in a while, but that's what allergy meds are for, right? :) And this new research certainly gives all of us cat allergic folks hope.

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    1. That's fantastic that you outgrew your allergies! I'm so thankful that you can build up a resistance to your own pets given time, and meds are for all the rest :)

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  9. I was diagnosed with being allergic to cats and dogs when I was in my late 20s (about 15 or so years ago). At the time, I had five cats. That was the first thing I asked my allergist...about my cats. He told me that I did not have to get rid of them. He said that usually pet owners develop a tolerance to their own pets. It's when we get around others' pets that we have the problem. That has pretty much held true for me. I do take Zyrtec daily, but that's due largely to a severe dust allergy (I'm also allergic to trees and grass). I'm pretty okay with my cats, although at times if I've handled them too much, I might have a bit of a reaction. Still, I think some new findings for treating the cause would be a great thing!

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