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What’s New in the “Non Allergic” Pussy Cat World? | Amoils.com

Added August 26, 2009, Under: Children's Health, Skin Conditions

Cream & white, full grown Devon Rex lying in t...

It is well known that many people are allergic to cats and there are even cat lovers amongst those numbers.  An allergic reaction to cats can occur within minutes and the symptoms usually include itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, scratchy throats, asthma and the skin rashes typical of eczema.

An interesting study led by pediatric expert Esmeralda Morales, from the University of Arizona, followed 486 children from birth and the study suggested that children who are exposed to cats soon after birth may have an increased risk of developing eczema.

But they also found that being exposed to 2 or more dogs at home produced a slightly protective effect and removing pets from the home could mean that children would develop allergies later in life when re-exposed to pet hair.  The study seemed to raise more questions than ever, rather than provide answers.

What is eczema?

Eczema is an inflammatory skin conditions with symptoms that include dry itching and reddened skin patches.  The patches sometimes split and ooze clear fluid.  It is thought that eczema could be due to an allergic reaction to a chemical, house dust mites or other factors.  Most adults or children who develop eczema usually have a family history of hay fever, asthma or eczema so genetics play an important role.  There are various triggers that contribute to this condition including extremes in the weather such as very hot, dry weather or very cold, dry weather.  The dryness of the skin is the main problem and it is important to keep the skin moisturized with a daily skin care regimen, particularly in the case of children, while treating the condition at the same time.

What is it about cats that cause allergies in children and adults?

The culprit is a glycol-protein known as Fel d1 that is produced in the sebaceous glands of the skin, saliva and urine.  These glands are distributed on all areas of the cat’s fur.  Cats are notorious groomers and when they start cleaning themselves, the saliva dries on its fir and mixes with dead skin cells.  This is called dander and these tiny particles become airborne, landing on carpeting, furniture and curtains so that once they come in contact with humans, an allergic reaction can occur.

Now some cat breeders claim that their particular breed is a hypo-allergenic cat.  These include Siberian, Abyssinian, Devon Rex and Cornish Rex.  It is thought that the Siberian cat produces less allergens than other breads.  The average cat produces 63 000 micrograms of Fel d1 while the female Siberian produces only about 200 micrograms of Fel d1 per gram.  Devon and Cornish Red cats have a reduced number of hairs in their coat providing less surface area to trap allergenic proteins from the saliva or the skin.  Rexes only have an undercoat and lose only a few very fine hairs at a time. They do not shed like other cats.

A hypo allergenic cat is less likely to produce allergic reactions in some people

But be aware that Sphinx cats, although almost completely hairless, do secrete the Fel d1 protein.

If you are allergic to cats and want to test your reaction to a hypo-allergenic cat, visit the breeder’s home and spend time there playing with the cats. Hold them close, and even nuzzle them.  If there is no allergic reaction, then you could well have found your ideal cat.

Tips to further reduce your allergies to cats

  • Spay or neuter your cat
  • Use plain water on a paper towel to remove any Fel d1 from the cat’s coat on a regular basis
  • Or consult your vet about other products that may help reduce allergies
  • Make sure your cat is flea free so it does not scratch and throw more dander into the air
  • Limit your cat if possible to certain areas and bedrooms should be out of bounds
  • If possible, cats should spend time outdoors
  • An air filtration system will reduce the amount of allergens circulated
  • Ventilate your home by opening windows
  • Vacuum carpets (if you have to have them) and any soft furnishings and curtains with an HEPA equipped vacuum cleaner which will reduce the allergens
  • Avoid wool which attracts allergens
  • Reduce other allergens because few people are only allergic to cats
  • Keep the litter tray in a well ventilated area

Cats are the number 1 pet in the US and live in some 60 million homes.  They are definitely here to stay so limiting allergic reactions become more important than ever.

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