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Cat allergy is an allergic reaction to one or more allergens produced by cats. The most common of these allergens are the glycoprotein secreted by the cat's sebaceous glands and which is expressed in saliva. An allergic reaction is a histamine reaction that is usually characterized by coughing, wheezing, chest tightening, itching, nasal congestion, rash, watering eyes, sneezing, chapped lips, and similar symptoms.
About 10% of the U.S. population has pet allergies and cats are among the most common culprits. Cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies. But contrary to what you might think, it's not the fur or hair that's the real problem. People with cat allergies are really allergic to proteins in the cat's saliva, urine, and dander (dried flakes of skin).
Causes and Symptoms
People with allergies have oversensitive immune systems. Their bodies mistake harmless things -- like cat dander -- for dangerous invaders, and attack them as they would bacteria or viruses. The symptoms of the allergy are the side effects of your body's assault on the allergen, or trigger.
Symptoms of cat allergies can include:
- coughing and wheezing
- hives or a rash on the chest and face
- red, itchy eyes
- redness of the skin where a cat has scratched, bitten, or licked you
- runny, itchy, stuffy nose
Symptoms of a cat allergy might develop in just a few minutes or take hours to appear. About 20% to 30% of people with allergic asthma have severe flare-ups after coming in contact with a cat.
If you have a history of cat allergies or suffer from allergic symptoms when you are exposed to a cat, contact us today to learn more about our current study opportunities for this diagnosis.
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