Your allergy to cats may fade away

An allergy to cats can fade away over time. If you read stories about people suffering from a cat allergy, sometimes they will say it went away. I have a similar story to tell and Elisa, a regular contributor to PoC and her daughter have had similar experiences. This post is a follow up to one by Elisa about how asthma sufferers appear to be more prone to have allergies including to cats.

Cat Allergy

Photo Andrew Goloida

I had never been allergic to cats until all of a sudden I became allergic to a stray cat I called Timmy. He was unneutered and a great boy cat (I miss him).  I think you’ll find that an allergy to a cat is most likely to be to an unnuetered male. Following that, when I took on Charlie, after my mother died, I was slightly allergic to him. However, the allergy lasted no more than about 6 months. It faded away. I don’t even think about it now.

It seems that I became used to his allergen. I self-cured, or desensitised myself. Other examples are:

  • When a woman became pregnant she stopped being allergic to cats and it stayed that way. Her doctor attributed it to hormones.
  • A man had bad allergies from 18-30 years of age when suddenly they all cleared up.
  • A woman was allergic to her sister’s cats. She adopted her own cat and looked after her sister’s cats with no allergic reaction.
  • It seems that people can grow out of allergies developed when young but this is less likely to happen when the allergies develop when 20+ years of age.
  • One person on Metafilter (a forum) states that a person’s immune system develops.
  • Although not an example of an allergy to cats fading, research indicates that when a young toddler is around cats (s)he can develop antibodies to allergies. This seems to indicate that the body develops resistance to allergens when exposed to an allergen, in this case the Fel D1 cat allergen.

I wonder if the Fel D1 allergen that causes the allergy to cats is individualised slightly on a cat-to-cat basis? Perhaps each cat has their own slightly different version of the allergen and our bodies adapt to it over a period of months until we are immune to it.

I ask myself: why should some people be allergic to a small substance that comes from a cat’s saliva (the Fel D1 allergen)? It seems strange really. It seems unnatural that an estimated 10% of people are allergic to cats because of this allergen. It makes me wonder if the unnaturalness of the situation is caused by the unnaturalness of the world that we are creating through our heavy industrialisation and intensive farming.

Are we making ourselves sensitive to some substances such as a cat’s saliva because of the environment that we create through our activities? For example, air pollution. Air pollution is a massive problem, probably far worse than people think. Do the toxic substances in the air that we breathe damage us slightly thereby allowing non-toxic substances such as a protein in a cat’s saliva to irritate us?

Allergies can fade. Children in particular can outgrow their allergies. Asthma can also fade. What causes asthma? We don’t know. We know what exacerbates it or predisposes people to it. The causes are genetic and environmental. These are the same causes of allergies including the cat allergy. We don’t know exactly why a protein in the cat’s saliva causes an allergic reaction. There has been research that indicates that the allergic reaction is due to the presence of a bacteria in our guts. The exact process is unclear.

Conclusion?: Well it is hard to find one because allergies appear to be a bit of mystery to the scientific and medical profession, which is why the treatment is rather crude: steroids. Steroids are an admission of not understanding the problem as all they do is reduce inflammation and reduce immune system activity.

However, people with a cat allergy, particularly children, should have at least a small expectation that their allergy will fade and that they will get used to be around cats.

The conclusion is: don’t jump to conclusions about your cat allergy. Be patient and see if it resolves itself. I’d also look at the environment you are living in and the food you eat. Is it as good as it can be? There are also many things one can do to alleviate it. There are no hypoallergenic cats, incidentally, although people will dispute that.

Photo by Andrew Goloida

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Your allergy to cats may fade away — 7 Comments

  1. I’ve had an eye allergy to cats fur since I started working with them, if I forget and rub my eye after touching a cat it comes up red like in that picture. I have to take an anti histamine tablet and put soothing drops in. Years ago my eyes used to swell up but with time it settled down to being manageable and it was my own fault if I wasn’t careful.
    It’s a small price to pay because I just couldn’t live without cats in my life and it’s hardly happened with our own cats, given time we do become desensitised I think.
    A lot of people relinquish their cats saying they or another family member is allergic, but I think many times it’s just an excuse to get rid of the cat.

    • The only realistic time is if a child is born allergic – but I don’t believe 90% of the people who make such claims when dumping thier cat.

      • I agree Marc and Ruth it’s just an excuse most of the time.
        Anybody who loves cats can surely cope with an allergy that will lessen with time anyway.

        • Ironically I feel like it would be unfair to have children because of my cats. If I had a child it would be such a thing for my cats I almost couldn’t do it just for that reason. If I had a kid who turned out to be allergic then I’d find a way no matter what.

          I remember reading a poster on a lampost in Canada offering 2 free beautiful cats because of “a new child with allergies”. Poor cats always get the short end. Even dogs don’t get kicked out.

          In my world cats have priority – they are first class citizens with equal rights, if not more rights just because they usually have less rights.

          • Kids are competition for cats and if there is a clash kids always win, as you say. As I recall, children being scratched or having a new baby are somewhere near the top of the pile for excuses to get rid of the family’s cat.

            That said, cats are good for kids on many levels. Learning to respect animals is one but as usual it depends on the attitude of the parents.

    • I agree it is often an excuse as there are many examples of the allergy becoming manageable or disappearing. Commitment and patience are important. It is really about how keen you are to live with a cat. All cat caretakers should be keen. It should be mandatory!

      • My daughter in law was allergic to cats. Her and my son still adopted 2 of them and within about a month her reaction was completely gone. This was over 10 years ago and her allergy has never come back.

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