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Allergie aux chats

Allergens produced by cats

The glycoprotein Fel d 1 (secreted by the cat’s sebaceous glands) is a powerful allergen, found everywhere (ubiquitous) very volatile and sticky. Fel d 1 as well as Fel d 4 are found on the cat’s hair as well as in his saliva. Since the animals lick themselves, their hair is sticky and adhere to walls, furniture and carpets. They remain there for months.

Having one cat in a building is enought to spread the allergen in all flats. Naturally the amount of allergen increases significantly if a cat enters your own home.

If the cat is removed, the allergens will remain present in significant quantities for approximately 6 months.

Children may also present symptoms by simply being in contact with school friends who have cat hair on their clothes.

Cat allergy is characterized by rhinitis (sneezing, nasal congestion), conjunctivitis (watering eyes, eye irritation and redness) and asthma (coughing, wheezing, test tightening). Also possible contact urticaria (rash) and chipped lips. Symptoms are either immediate or chronic.

Immediate symptoms: appear as soon as there is contact with the animal or when patient is in a location where a cat was recently present

Chronic symptoms : very frequently appearing after a longer contact with the animal. Very allergic patients may suffer from chronic symptoms even with a small amount of allergen and without direct contact (animal not in direct proximity) due to the ubiquity of the allergen.

Sometimes, patients get used to the chronic symptoms and do not find them as problematic as before.

The Allergist’s role is to determine which environmental elements are causing the patient’s symptoms. The specialised allergy consult establishes diagnosis of  allergy to cats by:

  1. Anamnesis (history) of chronic symptoms
  2. Skin prick-tests (standard and very reliable), eventually IDR (intra-dermo-reaction)
  3. Blood test to dose  specific IgE
  4. Spirometry (to determine if there is asthma)


Allergist MD will provide useful advice for allergens eviction and environmental factors. He will also suggest various treatments according to symptoms:

First line of treatment is strictly avoiding the allergen

→  avoid being near cats, touching or petting them, do not let them into your appartment, etc.

Of course this will be impossible if you already own a cat and have no intentino of giving it away.

Symptoms treatment:

 Medication: Seriousness of symptoms will determine which drugs should be prescribed. Asthma is a very serious symptom which must absolutely be treated for fear of aggravation.

    • Occasional symptoms (such as visiting a cat owner’s house), usually taking appropriate medication a few minutes before entering the house or during contact should be enough to avoid symptoms (topic or systemic antihistaminic, short-term bronchodilatator)
    • Chronic symptoms require a thorough treatment of asthma, rhinitis and conjunctivitis.

Cure: a desensitization is often necessary since it is so difficult to avoid being in contact with the ubiquitous cat’s allergens.