Can cats cause asthma in humans?

Can cats cause asthma in humans?

Our feline companions can cause asthma in people. If you aren't quite ready to find a new home for your cat just yet, our vets in the Pacific Northwest offers some advice on what you can try to help decrease cat-related allergens in your home and potentially reduce the frequency of your asthma attacks. 

Allergic Asthma

The respiratory condition asthma is marked by the narrowing of the airways and production of excess mucus, which leads to breathing challenges. From one person to another, the severity and frequency of asthma attacks can vary widely. However, symptoms usually include coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. 

Exposure to allergens in the environment can trigger attacks in people who suffer from allergic asthma. These asthma attacks can be triggered due to countless allergens, including cats and dogs, air pollution and cleaning products. 

Triggers Related to Cats

Exposure to cat dander, urine or saliva can trigger asthma attacks in people. 

Dander

Your cat's dead skin cells are dander, and they can float in the air or collect on furniture where they can be easily inhaled. 

Urine

In your cat's urine is a protein called Felis Domesticus 1 (Fel D1). For some people, this protein can trigger asthma symptoms when inhaled. 

Saliva

In addition to Fel D1, your cat's saliva also contains a protein called albumin, which can be an issue for some asthma sufferers. However, your cat doesn't need to lick you for you to be exposed, as proteins found in your cat's saliva can stick to their skin while grooming. These can be found on dander or fur which can be inhaled. 

How to Help Reduce Cat Related Allergens in Your Home

If your asthma has historically been triggered by cats, deciding to bring a cat into your home will likely cause some challenges. With a cat in your space, you'll probably experience asthma flareups more frequently than you would if you were living cat-free. 

That said, if you are wondering how you can reduce your asthma symptoms, taking asthma medications prescribed by your doctor will be your first step. Another potential solution that may allow you to live harmoniously with your furry friend will be to reduce your exposure to cat-related allergens in your home. Here are some tips that may help you to reduce asthma-causing allergens in your home:

  • Keep your kitty outside as much as possible when weather permits. Be mindful of very hot, cold or wet weather but allow them to enjoy time outside whenever the weather is nice.
  • Vacuuming frequently may 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 to reduce the frequency of your asthma attacks. 
  • Bathing your cat can help to significantly reduce dander in your home. We know that many cats hate water, but introducing bathing to your kitty while they are young, can get them used to the process, and some cats even enjoy it.
  • Keeping your cat out of the bedroom may help to prevent dander and other allergens from interfering with your breathing while you sleep. Never let your cat sleep on your bed, or next to you.
  • Wash your bedding frequently to rid sheets and blankets of any allergens that do make their way into your bedroom.
  • Dust your home frequently with a damp cloth to help trap and remove allergens from furniture and other surfaces.
  • Install a HEPA air filter for your home. Air filters can help to reduce allergens and improve the air quality in your home.
  • Resist relaxing with your cat on your lap. If you do allow your cat on your lap, be sure to change and wash your clothes frequently to remove problematic allergens.
  • Wash your hands immediately after petting your cat.

Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds

If you're longing for a feline friend but suffer from asthma triggered by cats, you may want to consider a hypoallergenic breed. While there is no guarantee that these breeds will prevent your asthma attacks, they have been specially bred to produce less of the problematic Fel D1 protein and may be a better choice for you.

Make sure that you spend some time with these cats before committing to owning one. It's best to find out whether or not these cats trigger your asthma attacks before laying down your hard-earned cash.  Here are a few hypoallergenic cat breeds you may want to consider:

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

The Bottom Line

Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that, even if you love cats, you may not be able to live with one. Nonetheless, in some cases, it may be possible to reduce the allergens you are exposed to so that you can continue to enjoy a loving relationship with your feline friend.

Are you looking for advice about choosing a hypoallergenic pet breed or how you can reduce allergic reactions to an existing pet? Contact Broadway Animal Hospital. Our trained vets are here to help.

New Patients Always Welcome!

Looking for a vet in the Pacific Northwest? Whether your pet needs routine wellness exams, surgery, geriatric care or emergency care, we look forward to welcoming you to our family at Broadway Animal Hospital located in Everett. 

Learn More

(425) 252-8266