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Home > Cats > Is It Possible to Build Up an Immunity to Cat Allergies? Vet-Approved Guide

Is It Possible to Build Up an Immunity to Cat Allergies? Vet-Approved Guide

woman teary eyed due to cat allergy

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Dr. Tabitha Henson

Veterinarian, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you’re one of the unlucky cat lovers that are allergic to cats, we feel your pain. Having an allergy to cats can be downright miserable. Some people cannot be around cats at all, or else they’ll develop some pretty unpleasant symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, and even rashes.

If you suffer from cat allergies, you may wonder if you can build up an immunity to the symptoms. Well, in short, yes and no. We know that’s not a satisfactory answer, but there’s simply no way to know how someone’s immune system will react when exposed to a cat. To get a better understanding, let’s dive deeper into this topic.


Is It Possible to Build Up Immunity to Cat Allergies?

We cannot answer this fully and with a simple yes or no because everyone’s immune system is different, and some allergy sufferers’ responses to allergens are worse than others. If being near a cat causes severe allergic reactions for you, then it’s probably not likely that you’ll develop immunity due to increased cat exposure.

Sometimes, children who suffer from cat allergies may grow out of the sensitivity, but many do not. However, symptoms may be less severe in adulthood. In a nutshell, if you are allergic to cats, you’ll probably deal with symptoms forever, but don’t fret because there are some measures you can take to make your symptoms less severe.

Can You Live With a Cat if You Are Allergic?

Let’s examine this scenario: you’ve never owned a cat before, but you fall in love with a gorgeous kitty that seems to really take to you. You decide to take on the role of a cat parent, and shortly after, you’re sneezing, have itchy and watery eyes, and have a constant runny nose. Uh oh—you may be allergic to your new kitty. What can you do?

Luckily, over-the-counter antihistamines or prescription medicine can help ease up such symptoms. Zyrtec, Claritin, and Allegra are all capable of helping with allergy issues, even those caused by cats. Prescription-strength nasal sprays can also be effective. You can also try nasal irrigation.

woman with cat allergy
Image Credit: Image Point, Shutterstock


Does Immunotherapy Help?

First, what is immunotherapy? Immunotherapy is simply taking allergy shots to build up immunity to a certain allergen. When you’re allergic to something, your body goes into attack mode, and when you’re exposed to a cat’s saliva, fur, dander, or even urine, your body will be on the defense, which causes the unpleasant symptoms.

Allergy shots are not a quick fix to the situation, but over time, your body will be trained, so to speak, to tolerate a particular allergen. A simple skin or blood test performed by an allergist can help determine what you’re allergic to.

How Can I Reduce Allergens from My Cat?

To help reduce allergies even further, here are some more helpful tips:
  • Clean, clean, clean. Ensure you dust and vacuum regularly. When vacuuming, use a HEPA filter to trap dander. If possible, replace any carpet in your home with hard floors.
  • Use air purifiers. Using air purifiers with HEPA filters will help trap dander and other allergens.
  • Wash your cat’s bedding. Try to do this at least once a week.
  • Limit your cat’s areas in the home. Create places for your cat to hang out in, and avoid allowing them into areas where you spend most of your time. Definitely avoid letting your cat have access to your bedroom or where you sleep.
  • Bathe and brush your kitty. If your cat will let you without too much of a fuss, try bathing them once a week and brushing their coat. This will help keep dander down.
  • Wash your hands often. Definitely wash your hands after handling your kitty to remove any dander that may be on your hands.

What About a Hypoallergenic Cat?

 As much as we wish it were true, there are no cats that are truly hypoallergenic, but there are some cat breeds that may not cause severe allergic reactions, such as the Siamese, Sphynx, Balinese, Devon Rex, and Cornish Rex, just to name a few.


Final Thoughts

If you’re thinking of adopting a cat, you may want to see an allergist to ensure you’re not allergic before committing. An allergist can do a skin test to check the things you are allergic to. While not 100% accurate, it can be an excellent starting point before getting attached to a kitty.

Featured Image Credit: Dmytro Zinkevych, Shutterstock

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