Allergy to Cats: A Miserable Conflict for Kitty Lovers

Although felines enchant you, the runny nose, itchy eyes, the hives, sneezing wheezing and asthma attacks drives you up the wall whenever you are in close proximity with a kitty. How can something that you love so deeply at the same time cause you such extreme suffering? If this sounds similar to your scenario, my heart goes out to you profoundly.

Cat in paper

In spite of this miserable situation, you are not alone dealing with this heartbreaking conflict. At least two percent of the population living in the United States1 is tormented by their allergy to cats. But since you cannot even think of living without a kitty, you make the difficult choice and put up with these aggravating symptoms just like rest of cat-loving people who prefer to trade in their comfort to experience the pleasure of being owned by a feline.

Although most folks believe that the nasty culprit causing their allergy is the cat’s fur; this is not the case. Cat fur itself is not responsible for causing the allergy. What does make people miserable is something called “Fel d 1“; a protein that emanates from sebum. Sebum is a substance produced by the sebaceous glands. Its purpose is to help keep the hair and skin moisturized.

This protein attaches itself microscopic particles of dry skin called dander. Since these particles are incredibly small; only about 1/10th of the size of dust mites these particles quickly become airborne and attach themselves to our skin, to bedding, carpets, clothing and other objects. So when a cat grooms himself, with the particle floating through the air, it can instantly launch an serious allergy attack for the folks who are averse to Fel d 1. But for allergic cat lovers, there may be some good news on the horizon which hopefully may save the day!

Presently under investigation, there is new drug which may hold the potential for helping cat lovers conquer their allergies. Dr. Steven Tolber of the Allergy and Airways Treatment Center is studying an injection-based drug known to limit allergic reactions, by boosting the immune system of the folks taking the drug.

Tolber explained,

“As we all know, once you have a cat it becomes a member of your family. Most people who have cats, even if they have symptoms, really want to keep the cat.”

The new drug Tolber is working with is named Catpad. This potentially breakthrough drug requires far fewer injections than the traditional cat allergy treatments that are presently available. Catpad requires only four different injections and would replace the 40 to 50 different shots that now are being used to build up the immune system. Since the product has not yet received FDA-approval, further testing is needed.

Researchers are still looking for more participants in the CATALYST cat allergy study. Anyone wishing to participate in the study, Contact the:
Allergy, Respiratory & Sleep Center,
4048 Dressler Road NW,
Canton, Ohio

To find out if you qualify, Call Melanie Carlson at 330-479-3333. Considerations for inclusion in the study: You must be between the ages of 12 and 65, have a cat at home and have been diagnosed with a cat allergy for at least two years.

My kudos go out to Dr. Tolber for the work he is doing. I think this outstanding research potentially offers great promise for the folks who are allergic to cats.

What do you think? Tell us your opinion in a comment.


  • Photo Credit: Bonnie Huntsinger (internal frame added by Michael plus a bit of a clean up)
  • Source: Source: Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Note: 1. It could be as high as 10%
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Allergy to Cats: A Miserable Conflict for Kitty Lovers — 14 Comments

  1. I am wondering if they are doing anything with the mediation of. diet of the cat itself. I have a raw fed cat rescue and have found that my friends who are highly allergic. are not having reactions even when they are hugging me and I am covered with cat hair.

      • That would be pure speculation, however given the evidence over the year however given the evidence over the years being around some severely allergic individuals who did not have reaction to my cat hair I would say its a good possibility. One worth checking in to. I can tell you there is an absolute difference in the haircut and skin quality of a raw fed cat. I have actually started calling it and can spot a “kibble coat” when I see it. You can feel the difference even when you touch the coat..

  2. This is great news. Hopefully it will work and without a whole list of side effects. Cat lovers that are allergic now have some hope.

  3. Ruth, that’s so true. The only thing is that anyone who would use that as an excuse more than likely wouldn’t be interested in getting the treatment, don’t you think?

  4. It would be good news if there was a drug to suit everyone allergic to cats, no one could then use the popular excuse that someone in the family had an allergy, to relinquish the family pet to a Shelter.

  5. That is good news for those who love kitties enough to take shots. When I worked in a doctor’s office, I used to give shots every week to this little girl who started when she was 8 or 9 to take allergy shots because she dearly loved animals and was allergic to all of them. She had a real menagerie for years, including cats and also a sled dog team and at one point a llama. She still sends me Christmas cards with pix of her family and her animals.

  6. I know there are a lot of people who are allergic to cats, and I would be willing to bet it is more than 2%. There are also people who can take various meds to overcome it, but some can not. I feel for the people who love cats or other animals that cause them to be allergic yet can’t enjoy them.

  7. Very interesting! Though I am usually skeptical about “new” drugs since once a drug is on the market for a bit we see a laundry list of side effects. I will be interested to see what the outcome of this new drug will be once it’s been on the market for awhile. Meantime, being quite allergic to kitties myself, I take Claritin daily and vacuum my home daily. I also invested in air purification systems from ORECK and my allergy symptoms have become quite tolerable.

  8. Thank you for sharing this essential information, Jo, and huge props to Dr. Tober. With the wide variety of OTC and Rx drugs available to allergics, one would think that this would not be an issue, but since some say it is, I hope and pray this new drug is effective for them. A loved one of mine, btw, with COPD, which I understand is not an “allergy” but which nevertheless has been a stumbling block for many people where their beloved feline family members are concerned, made the right decision and absolutely refused to even think about betraying her beloved cat. I believe that the time she had on this earth was greatly enhanced by life with her beloved cat, who gave comfort, friendship, camaraderie, reassurance, and so much more, unconditionally. I have also known “allergics” who refused to abandon their beloved feline family members. It’s a big world, and people have different priorities. I am blessed to count among my friends and loved ones, people whose priorites are to place love and caring and loyalty at the very top.

  9. Folks in the USA can take part in the trial to help prove that the medication really works! Once the drug has been approved, so many people will be able to share their home with cats and no longer suffer. I think that’s fantastic!

    Please do share this information with your cat loving friends who long to have a kitty snuggled up on their lap!

  10. I think that you might find that the percentage of people who are, in one way or another, allergic to cats is somewhere around 10% of the population.

    There is a wide range of degrees of allergic reaction and of course it varies from cat to cat as well because unneutered males are more likely to cause an allergic reaction than other cats.

    If a scientist can produce some sort of method to prevent an allergic reaction taking place and provided the method is totally safe (i.e. no side effects) then the scientists will make a fortune because there are very many people who love cats and who fight through their allergies to look after them.

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