There are plenty of humans who are allergic to cats. Thankfully, allergy medications exist to help deal with those watery eyes and runny noses. Cat-loving allergy sufferers also rejoice to know that there are certain cat breeds that produce fewer allergens than others. The bottom line is, being allergic to cats doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t be a cat person. But have you ever heard of a cat being allergic to humans? Cats can be allergic to just about anything else, including pollen, eggs, and grass, so what about their human family members? And if a cat is allergic to humans, is there anything we can do to help?
According to Popular Science, it’s rare for cats to be allergic to humans, but it is completely possible. The reason it doesn’t happen often is because humans (usually) bathe more often than other allergy-inducing animals. We also don’t shed as much hair or dead skin. We do shed, however, and for some unfortunate cats, that human dander can trigger an allergic reaction.
The reaction is exactly the same as when a human is allergic to pet dander. The human allergens trigger an immune system overreaction in the cat which in turn releases histamine and other chemicals that cause anything from sneezing to itchy skin.
While human hygiene habits help protect cats from this type of natural human allergy, it can sometimes backfire because of allergens present in the things we put on our bodies. It’s much more common, for example, for a cat to be allergic to a type of perfume than they are to be allergic to human dander. So if you always wear the same scent, it can seem like your cat is allergic to you, but they’re actually allergic to your perfume.
Besides perfume, cats can be allergic to a long list of chemicals and natural substances that humans often use. It could be something in your shampoo, body lotion, or even laundry detergent.
Humans aren’t the only family members your cat could be allergic to. It’s more common for cats to be allergic to their canine siblings and vice versa. Dogs and cats naturally produce more dander than humans. When they live in the same house, it’s possible for them to be allergic to each other.
What To Do
If you suspect your cat has allergies, the first thing to do is talk to your vet. They’ll help you narrow down the potential allergens based on how long the symptoms persist and how often they appear. It is possible to test for specific allergies, but most vets recommend eliminating certain things from the cat’s life to see what helps. If it’s a suspected food allergy, for example, your vet could have you switch your cat food to a recipe with different ingredients.
In the case that your cat is allergic to humans, things get a little more complicated. But it doesn’t mean you have to remove yourself from your cat’s life. Christine Cain of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine told National Geographic that cats can be treated for allergies in much the same way humans can. Allergy shots and oral medications that contain small amounts of the problem allergen can help stop the immune system from overreacting. This means you and your cat can cohabitate without irritating allergy symptoms.