Owning a cat is truly wonderful. Sure, they can be a little moody and tend to do whatever they want, but they are also super cuddly, sweet, and adorable companions that will always make you smile. Unless, of course, you’re allergic to them. In that case, you’ll still be smiling, you’ll just also be sniffling a whole lot. The thing is, though, many people don’t even realize they’re allergic to their cats, which is not ideal: you need to know the signs of a cat allergy for the sake of your own health.
Pet allergies are very common: in fact, a third of Americans are allergic to cats and dogs. And, again, many people don’t even realize they’re suffering from this. When you think of someone who is allergic to cats, you might assume that they start sneezing the moment a cat goes near them. Maybe you think of someone who breaks out in hives right after petting a cute kitten. These are symptoms of pet allergies, but they certainly aren’t the only ones.
It’s easy to overlook some of the symptoms that could easily be explained by something else, especially if you don’t want to admit you’re allergic to your cat. But having an allergy to pets doesn’t mean you can’t own one. There are tons of ways to make the experience better, from over-the-country allergy medications to weekly shots from a doctor.
It’s also important to note that you can develop cat allergies at any time, even if you’ve never been allergic to anything else before. I developed my cat and dog allergies after college, and for a long time I thought I was just sick all the time because I never even thought I might be allergic to my pets. I had never been allergic to anything before!
So, even if you think it’s unlikely that you’re allergic or developing allergies to cats, you should know the signs and symptoms. If you do start feeling these things, it’s worth a trip to the doctor!
1. You Feel Exhausted All The Time
When you think of allergies, you probably think of sneezing, wheezing, and rashes. Those are very common symptoms, but they aren’t the only ones! Cat allergies can also cause fatigue, leaving you feeling exhausted all the time. This is an easy symptom to overlook, as fatigue can have a tremendous amount of causes, but if it’s combined with some of the below symptoms, it could be a sign of allergies.
2. It Feels Like You Have A Constant Sore Throat
Pet allergies will generally make you feel like you’re living with a cold that won’t go away, and can result in sneezing and coughing. Cat allergies can also lead to a post-nasal drip, which can make you feel like you have a constant sore throat. You might also notice that it comes and goes. It could be worse in the morning and at night, or only really bad whenever you’re home. If you always feel like you have a cold, but no fever or any other symptoms, see an allergist.
3. Your Face Feels Swollen And Slightly Painful
Another sign of allergies that you might overlook is your face feeling kind of swollen, puffy, and sightly painful. This can happen when you’re very congested. Sometimes that congestion doesn’t come out as a sniffly nose; instead it just causes head congestion that leaves you feeling swollen, foggy, and kind of odd.
4. Your Eyes Are Red And Itchy
Watery eyes are a common symptom of allergies, especially pet allergies. You should also be on the lookout for red, dry, itchy eyes, which is another common symptom. A lot of people think this is just a result of general allergies from being outside and being exposed to pollen, but that itchy feeling in your eyes can also happen after you’re around your cat, especially if you pet them or hold them and then touch your eyes.
5. You Experience Shortness Of Breath
Another annoying symptom of cat allergies is feeling like you just can’t catch your breath. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) says, “Many airborne particles are small enough to get into the lungs. For some, this exposure can cause severe breathing problems. Highly sensitive people can begin coughing, wheezing and have shortness of breath within 15 to 30 minutes of inhaling allergens.”
6. You Have An Asthma Attack
Most of the time, pet allergies are just annoying. Sometimes, though, they can get a little more serious. The AAFA says that being around a cat can trigger a severe asthma attack in up to three in 10 people with asthma. So, if you have asthma, and you have an asthma attack, it could be because of the cats.
Also important: cat allergies, when left untreated, can actually lead to chronic asthma. That’s why you need to go to a doctor!
7. You Notice Redness On Your Skin
Cat allergies can definitely cause an obvious rash, and even hives that leave your skin super itchy and inflamed. But you should also look out for general redness on the skin, especially on areas of your skin that have had contact with your cat.