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6 Signs That You May Be Allergic to Your Cat: Symptoms to Look For

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

man with cat allergy

Cats are beloved pets for many people. In fact, about 25 percent of U.S. households own at least one cat. Unfortunately, many people suffer from cat allergies, which can put a damper on owning these frisky and lovable companions.

If you think you may be allergic to cats, you have plenty of treatment options. Many people don’t even realize they’re allergic, however. Check out these six signs that you may be allergic to your cat.

Top 6 Signs That You May Be Allergic to Your Cat

Pet allergies are common, roughly one-third of Americans are allergic to cats and dogs. Cat allergies are caused by a protein in cat saliva, urine, and dander. The symptoms seem to have no change with different cat breeds, as even hairless cats still urinate and salivate.

Identifying allergies isn’t always easy, however. Not all cat allergies present with itchy eyes and sneezing. You can also develop a cat allergy at any time, even if you’ve spent your life around cats without a problem.

woman teary eyed due to cat allergy
Image Credit: Dmytro Zinkevych, Shutterstock

Here are some signs you may be allergic to your cat:

1. Fatigue

Sure, seasonal allergies present with sneezing and rashes, but those aren’t the only allergy symptoms. Allergies can cause fatigue and brain fog, leaving you exhausted all the time and unable to concentrate. This has to do with the inflammation caused by the immune response to the allergy.

Many people miss fatigue, however, and write it off as a symptom of something else. Combined with other symptoms, it’s a pretty clear sign of an allergy to your cat.

2. Sinus Discomfort and Sore Throat

A lot of pet allergies involve cold-like symptoms, such as coughing and sneezing. Cat allergies can cause post-nasal drip, which involves thick mucus sliding down your throat and creating a sore throat.

This symptom isn’t constant, making people believe it’s caused by seasonal allergies or fighting off a cold. If you always feel like you have a sore throat and the start of a cold or sinus infection, it could be your cat.

woman sneezing while holding a cat
Image Credit: Pormezz, Shutterstock

3. Swelling

In some people, cat allergies present with a swollen and puffy face, much like sinus congestion. Unlike colds, this congestion may not lead to sneezing and sniffling. Instead, you’ll experience head congestion that can lead to facial swelling or a sinus headache.

Note that this congestion may be more persistent than a sinus infection or cold, which may have symptoms that are worse in the morning or at night.

4. Itchy, Watery Eyes

Watery eyes are a classic allergy symptom. Most people attribute their red, watery, itchy eyes to seasonal allergies like pollen, but it could be because of your cat. This symptom can be so severe in some people that it happens if they’re in the same room as a cat. For others, it only happens if they pet their cat and touch their face or eyes without washing their hands.

This symptom is caused by pet dander. Microscopic pieces of dry skin can shed from your cat and get in the air, eventually landing on curtains, carpets, bedding, clothing, and your own skin. Sounds gross, right? But remember that humans also shed skin bits that can cause allergies in their cats.

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


5. Shortness of Breath

Pet dander floats around in the air, so there’s little doubt that some of it will get into your lungs. When this happens in allergic people, it can cause shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing.

In severe cases, it can lead to an asthma attack. Fortunately, this type of severe reaction is not as common and manageable, so you don’t necessarily have to give up your cat because of it. Lifestyle management, such as keeping the cat confined for part of the day or away from rooms that have a lot of carpeting and fabric, and managing the symptoms with medication can be a big help.

6. Skin Rashes

Cat allergies can trigger skin rashes and hives in sensitive people. However, it doesn’t need to be that severe to have skin symptoms. Some people only have redness on the skin after contact with a cat, which is less obvious. Watch out for redness in areas that touched the cat, especially on the face and neck.

Final Thoughts

Many people love having cats in their homes and wouldn’t trade them for the world. If you suffer from these cat allergy symptoms, however, it can make life miserable. The good news is that now that you know the symptoms, you can seek appropriate treatment and lifestyle changes for your cat allergies to not only keep your beloved pet but improve your own quality of life.

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Featured Image Credit: Elizaveta Galitckaia, Shutterstock

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