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How Many People Are Allergic to Cats? Statistics and Reasons

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

man with cat allergy

For pet lovers, having allergies that keep you from owning one of your own can be heartbreaking. The loyalty of a dog and the playful fun of a cat are things many of us take for granted each day. Unfortunately, for those of us who are cat lovers, there is a high chance that you could have an allergy. But, is it the cat you’re allergic to or something else?

When trying to understand how many people are allergic to cats, you can find several statistics on the matter. You’ll also find several reasons. If you find yourself getting watery eyes and fits of sneezing when you’re in the presence of a cat, but not your dog, then it’s clear you have cat allergies you must deal with.

Let’s take a look at a few statistics floating around about cat allergies. We’ll also take a look at the reasons why you are allergic. This will help you better understand these types of ailments and whether these issues could have been prevented.

Cat Allergy Statistics

Before we discuss what’s causing your allergies, let’s take a look at a few statistics concerning cats and your sneezes.

  • 70% of homes include a cat or dog
  • Cat allergies are roughly twice as common as reactions to dogs
  • Allergens produced by cats are stickier than other allergens
  • Hypoallergenic pets are not truly a thing
  • 30% of people in the US have allergies to pets
  • Being exposed to pets during the first year of life can limit allergies as you grow
  • A protein on a cat’s skin causes allergies not the cat’s fur
  • Male cats produce more of the allergy-inducing hormone than females
woman teary eyed due to cat allergy
Image Credit: Dmytro Zinkevych, Shutterstock

For the Love of Cats

As you can see, the majority of homes in the US have pets. While cats are still less popular than dogs, cat lovers want to provide their kitties with the best environment possible. Even if their kitty is making them sneeze. Many people refuse to give up their connection with their pets, even if they present with allergies. This adds to  the number of people in the country with pets in the home, even though so many people are allergic.

Luckily, research is showing that if you are exposed to pets early in life, allergies may not be an issue for you as you get older. This is great news for pet owners who plan to welcome a bundle of joy into their lives. By keeping their dogs or cats as part of the family, they may help their child build immunity to future problems.

What Causes Cat Allergies

People with pet allergies automatically assume it’s pet fur that causes the issue. When it comes to cats, this isn’t the case. It’s what is found on your cat that is the culprit. A protein called Fel d 1 is found on a cat’s skin that is the root cause of your itchy eyes and bouts of sneezing what a cat is around. Your cat’s urine and saliva can also produce this protein and can affect us in adverse ways. You’ll often notice that male cats seem to cause more allergy issues than females. This is because they produce more hormones than females which means more Fel d 1 is present.

woman with cat allergy
Image Credit: Image Point Fr, Shutterstock

The Symptoms of Cat Allergies

Like with most allergies, people who react when they’re around cats will experience symptoms from mild to severe. This is due to the person’s sensitivity level and how exposed they are. These sensitivities also play a part in how quickly your symptoms may appear. For some who are highly susceptible to cat allergies, symptoms may appear in moments after exposure and can become quite dangerous.

Here’s a list of cat allergy symptoms you should keep an eye out for when you are around cats or inside a home where they live.

If these symptoms occur and become severe, you should seek medical attention immediately:
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Pain in your face from nasal congestion
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Chest tightness or inability to breathe
  • Hives or skin rash

Can I Keep My Cat After Allergies Appear?

For many people, rehoming their cat isn’t an option. Luckily, for those whose allergy symptoms are more on the mild side, it’s possible to continue living your life with cats. By following a few protocols, you may be able to visit your allergist, get treatment, and be fine as a kitty parent.

Here are a few tricks you can implement to keep your home and yourself safer when you’re allergic to cats:
  • Keep your kitty out of your bedroom. This will make things easier for you at night but won’t stop the allergens completely.
  • Try to avoid petting, hugging, and carrying your kitty as much as possible. When you do things, immediately wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Use HEPA air cleaners to reduce the allergens in your home. These are especially beneficial in your bedroom and living room areas.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner daily that is designed to help reduce allergens in the home.
  • Bathe your cat regularly to help reduce airborne allergens.
adorable cat walks beside vacuum_Mr Mrs Marcha, Shutterstock
Image Credit: Mr Mrs Marcha, Shutterstock

What About a Hypoallergenic Cat?

You may think a hypoallergenic cat is an answer to your allergy issues. Unfortunately, it isn’t. There are no hypoallergenic cat breeds out there. You may think that isn’t fair since there are hypoallergenic dogs, but that happens to be wrong too. Yes, some dog breeds have fewer allergens and shed less, but no dogs are truly hypoallergenic. Sadly, until science can find a way, if you wish to keep a kitty in your home, it will take a lot of dedication to keep yourself free of any adverse reactions if you suffer from cat allergies.

In Conclusion

Loving cats is something many people in the world share. Allergies to kitties are also shared by many. While allergies may appear at any point in your life, saying goodbye to your cat may not be something you can do. That’s understandable. If you find yourself in that situation, try implementing a few of the things we discussed so you can continue being a loving cat parent. As always, if you suffer from cat allergies, stay in close contact with your doctor and allergist so they can help you follow the best course of action for your situation.


Featured Image Credit: Elizaveta Galitckaia, Shutterstock

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