Sunday 21 February 2021

Allergy to your cat versus viral infection (common cold)

These days I get itchy eyes sometimes. I have a sniffle. The symptoms are like a very low level cold. But it happens almost all the time, on and off. It is not confined to the winter or the summer or any other season for that matter. How do I know if my sniffles are due to an allergy to my cat or because I have a mild cold that my immune system is managing to deal with?

Allergy to cats versus common cold
Allergy to cats versus common cold. Image: PoC.

I think it is very difficult to tell the difference between "the sniffles" (a low level viral infection which your body deals with and eliminates) and a low level allergy to your cat. The only way to find out is to remove your cat from your life for a while and see what happens. I'm not prepared to do that so I'm not going to find out!

Different cats produce different allergic responses. It depends upon the concentration of the allergen in their saliva which is called Fel d1 as you might know. Male cats who have not been neutered tend to produce more of the allergen and therefore are more likely to generate an allergic response in people predisposed to the feline allergen.

My cat is, of course, neutered but he is a male and it is conceivable that I might be is just slightly allergic to him. It's unlikely because I've not had problems with an allergy to cats, except I did once have a minor reaction to a stray cat who used to come into my home many years ago. I noticed the difference. He was not neutered.

I was also slightly allergic to a cat I adopted from my mother who had, at that time, just recently passed away. So I can be allergic to cats albeit to a very low level. I'm just wondering aloud. I am chewing the cud on this one because it is irritating to have these low level sniffles which I have to deal with using paracetamol.

I also have some antihistamine pills which I will take today.

Allergy to your cat VS cold symptoms

Apparently, there is a slight difference in the symptoms between those caused by an allergy to your cat and those caused by the presence of viral infection i.e. a cold. An allergic reaction causes itching, sneezing and a runny nose with clear drainage. A cold produces a runny nose, sore throat, body aches and sometimes a mild fever. The difference would seem to be that you can have a sore throat with a cold but you don't have a sore throat with an allergic reaction to your cat. On that basis I'm allergic to my cat!

The is also be a difference in the onset of the symptoms and their duration. Cat allergies start immediately, as soon as you are exposed to the allergen whereas colds require an incubation period. That doesn't really help me. An important difference is that common colds normally last to a maximum of about fourteen days whereas allergy symptoms can persist for months as you are constantly exposed to the allergen. That's a telling difference.

Two things that you can do now and/or in the future

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.

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