Your cat companion might be allergic to you

This is a reminder that probably rarely – although we don’t know for sure – domestic cats can sometimes be allergic to their human caregiver. And the cause will be an allergen in human dander; bits of hair and skin which the human throws off into the air inside their home where it lands on furnishings. It’s pretty well everywhere. This is exactly the same but in reverse as to what happens when humans are allergic to their domestic cat.

Cats can be allergic to humans
Cats can be allergic to humans. Image: MikeB using Canva.

Cats also deposit dander around the home and in their dander, there is an allergen called Fel D1. About 10% of people are allergic to domestic cats.

The problem with cats being allergic to humans is that we don’t know much about it. We do know that human dander would be regarded as an environmental allergen for a cat if it caused an allergic reaction.

We don’t know what the allergen is on my research. We do know that more research has been carried out on dogs than cats in respect of companion animals being allergic to their human caregiver and other humans in the home.

The usual symptoms for cats would be eczema and the usual treatment, on my research, would perhaps be steroids and antihistamines. But I’m not a veterinarian and therefore I don’t want to discuss that. It’s quite a complicated area isolating and treating allergies in cats.

A cat might be allergic to several allergens including the allergen in human dander. That being the case it might require some quite complicated tests to discover that a cat is allergic to their caregiver.

Around 10% of dogs apparently exhibit allergies to human dander. I find this statistic extraordinary. Perhaps, they are mild symptoms as is the case for humans being allergic to cats.

Although allergic symptoms in humans can be quite severe, they often aren’t. This is an interesting aspect of cat caregiving because a cat might have mild symptoms which would cause permanent mild discomfort which in turn may affect behaviour. The human caregiver wouldn’t know about it as it wouldn’t be apparent.

I don’t know if veterinarians test for an allergy to humans when they test a cat who’s suffering an allergic reaction from an environmental allergen. They might not because it’s probably quite rare for a cat to be allergic to the human companion.

In addition to this possible environmental allergen, cats can be allergic to food and flea bites. Fleas are probably the most prevalent cat health problem of them all because they give cats tapeworms, they suck the cat’s blood, they can make a cat anaemic with a bad infestation and the cat can become allergic to the flea which causes substantial discomfort.

RELATED: Flea Bite Allergy – feline miliary dermatitis

We don’t know but is almost certain that cats cannot have a severe reaction to human dander. Of course the cat lifestyle predisposes them to picking up human dander because they like to rest on the floor, on the carpet, on the sofa, on the armchair and other surfaces on which there will be human dander.

My research indicates that antihistamines are not that effective against allergic reactions in cats. A further treatment would be steroids such as prednisone.

The purpose of this post is to simply flag up the potential of a cat being allergic to their owner. It’s something that might not cross people’s minds.

RELATED: Canadian vaccine against the cat allergen being trialled in the UK


Study referred to: Human dander as a potential allergen source in atopic dogs : allergen characterization and IgE-profiling. Link: Other source: Dr. Heather Edginton, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

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