Sophie Matzik is a freelance writer for NetDoktor’s medical editorial team.
Many people suffer from Cat allergy. Symptoms trigger certain proteins that the cats release in their saliva, urine or through sebaceous glands. These proteins are called allergens. The allergic reaction itself is caused by an overreaction of the immune system. Read here everything important about cat allergy symptoms.
Cat allergy: What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of a cat allergy, colloquially also called cat hair allergy, show up in different areas of the body. Not every affected person necessarily shows all typical symptoms. The severity of the symptoms usually depends on the duration of the contact. The longer you are exposed to the allergen, the more severe the symptoms usually are.
Symptoms of respiratory tract
Especially the respiratory tract is irritated in case of cat allergy. Allergens from the air enter the body with the air you breathe. If they settle on the mucous membranes of the nasopharynx, an allergic reaction occurs with the following symptoms:
- Cough irritant
- Scratching in the throat
- Severe coughing fits, similar to a chesty cough
- Inflamed throat and pharynx
- Sneezing stimulus
- Runny or blocked nose
- In extreme cases: respiratory distress
Symptoms of the eyes
There are also mucous membranes in the eyes that are irritated by cat allergens. Many allergy sufferers react with burning, reddened and itchy eyes when they encounter cat allergens. Watery eyes are also a natural defense reaction of the body to wash allergens out of the eye with the help of the tear fluid.
Symptoms are particularly pronounced in the eyes when allergy sufferers pet cats and then wipe their face and eyes with their hands. The same effect has the direct contact of the face with the cat, such as cuddling or kissing.
Skin symptoms: How and where does the rash manifest itself?
If the skin comes into contact with the cat allergens, an allergic reaction is also imminent here. In most of the affected people there is reddening and swelling of the skin with strong itching. Large, itchy pustules, so-called wheals, are often formed. These are usually limited to the areas that had direct contact with the cat. Sometimes, however, they spread to other parts of the body.
Skin rash like this already shows up during affectionate contact with the pet. If the cat has scratched the skin additionally, the symptoms intensify. The injured areas then swell up and become inflamed in some cases.
When do the symptoms appear?
Sneezing, coughing, eye tears, skin rash – these symptoms usually appear suddenly, within a few minutes after contact with the allergen. The cat allergy is an allergy of the immediate type. The allergy-causing proteins show their effect immediately.
However, the symptoms are not always equally pronounced and break out even if there is no cat around – but a cat owner with allergens on his clothes. Therefore, it sometimes takes some time until a cat allergy is recognized as such.
Cat allergy symptoms in the early stages
A cat allergy manifests itself with different symptoms in each person. Especially in the early stages of an allergy, mild symptoms are often not attributed to a specific trigger, but dismissed as insignificant or mistaken for signs of a cold. Sneezing, itchy eyes or a runny nose are the first symptoms of cat allergy in many of those affected.
Cat allergy symptoms in the further course
A cat allergy triggers untreated complaints such as general malaise or a reduced ability to concentrate in some affected people. Many people also suffer from sleep disturbances. Problems falling asleep and sleeping through the night occur especially if the cat sleeps in the same room or even in the same bed as the person affected. Then the body is exposed to a large amount of allergens throughout the night. Sleep disturbances result in the consequence by sneezing, throat scratching or also shortness of breath.
If a cat allergy remains untreated for a long time, there is a risk that the symptoms will worsen over time. This is especially true if the affected person continues to be exposed to the allergens. In severe cases, a cat allergy can even develop into bronchial asthma. Bronchial asthma is accompanied by severe attacks of respiratory distress and may be life-threatening.
In order to be able to react to a Cat allergy symptoms how to avoid these, it is important to seek medical advice and take preventive measures as early as possible. How a cat allergy is diagnosed and treated, you can read in the article Cat allergy.