Depending on the severity, there might be a subtle difference between the symptoms due to an allergy to your cat compared to the symptoms of a mild common cold, a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract in humans. It might, therefore, be difficult to tell the difference. Some people might be allergic to their cat thinking that they are predisposed to a series of mild upper respiratory tract infections.
There is a difference in symptoms, however. Trying to pinpoint the difference leads me to the sore throat. Common colds nearly always start with a sore throat and then develop into a runny nose. The other cold symptoms are body aches, possibly a mild fever, fatigue and a cloudy or discoloured nasal discharge. This might be due to a secondary bacterial infection.
The symptoms for an allergy to cats do not include a sore throat it seems to me and the nasal discharge is clear (no secondary bacterial infection). In addition you might suffer from itchy eyes and itchiness generally together with sneezing. Itchiness does not accompany a common cold.
Another difference between an allergy to cats and they mild common cold is that the cold shouldn’t last more than about two weeks before the body defeats it due to the immune system. An allergy to cats can go on indefinitely as long as a cat is present in the life of the sufferer.
The difference on duration might not be as clear as it sounds because perhaps an allergy to cats waxes and wanes by which I mean the symptoms are very mild and then they may become more severe for various reasons. The climate may have an effect because in warm weather a cat owner may open the windows a lot more which may help to disburse the cat allergen which as you probably know is Fel d1. It’s in a cat’s saliva which is deposited on the fur and which then dries and flies off around the room settling on furniture and up your nose!
Antihistamine tablets will reduce the symptoms caused by the cat allergen. But they probably also help to reduce symptoms of a common cold. I would like to think that the two major differences are:
- An allergy to cats does not produce a sore throat whereas a cold normally does;
- A allergy to cats results in a clear nasal discharge whereas a cold results in a more opaque discharge or a yellow/green one if there is a persistent secondary bacterial infection;
- An allergy to cats can continue indefinitely whereas a mild common cold shouldn’t last more than fourteen days.
Two quick fixes?
Purina make a cat food which reduces the strength of the feline allergen. It is called Pro Plan LiveClear Allergen Reducing Cat Food. You might consider trying it if you are allergic to your cat. Another possible for the future (2 years?) is a single injection given to a cat which makes them hypoallergenic.
If you have some tips and tricks to help on this matter then please leave a comment. I feel very confident that quite a lot of people are unaware that they are allergic to their cat because they think that they have a weak or compromised immune system which opens the door to a series of mild viral infections.