cats and asthma

For children with asthma, you can never know where the next trigger lies. Some children are allergic to dust mites, pollen, or in some cases, mold. While other kids are allergic to cats’ fur or dander (dry skin flakes from cats/dogs). So what’s the link between cats and asthma? 

Table of Contents:

  1. The link between cats & asthma
  2. 5 ways to manage the cat’s allergen
  3. Saying goodbye

The link between cats & asthma 

Of all the pets, cats cause the most allergic reactions. Although asthma isn’t necessarily caused by allergies, 90% of children who have asthma, have allergies as well!

Kids who are sensitive to proteins (allergens) may get an allergic reaction when near cats as their dander (dried skin flakes) contain these proteins. In most cases, these skin flakes usually linger in the air or stick to the cat’s fur, urine, and saliva. 

When in the air, these skin flakes may also end up sticking to microscopic particles in the surroundings. In essence, these particles could end up on surface areas all over the house. As such, it can be very difficult to avoid a cat’s skin flakes. 

If you have a beloved cat at home, don’t panic though. It can be devastating to find out that your cat might be a trigger for your child’s asthma. 

But, not all hope is lost. Cats are part of the family and as long as you take extra care, you can decrease your child’s exposure to a cat’s allergen. 

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5 ways to manage a cat’s allergen

  1. Vacuum Frequently: Vacuuming the house can help to control the amount of cat dander and fur around. Clean the furniture frequently especially those with upholstered fabric that traps allergens. Consider changing your floor tiles to wood, tile or linoleum as they’re easier to clean! 
  2. Bathe your Cat: Bathe your cat at least once per week to help reduce cat allergen. You might want to use shampoos and sprays that help neutralize the dander. 
  3. Keep the bedroom cat-free: Keep your cat out of your child’s bedroom. Create a safe space for your child especially when he/she sleeps at night. If you have a centralised air-conditioning system (with filters) in the house, that’d be great too!
  4. Clear the litter box: Clear your cat’s litter whenever it needs a clean. Don’t take it for granted because cat’s urine and feces trap dander. 
  5. Hand Hygiene: Remind your child to wash their hands frequently and keep them from touching their face after playing with your cat. 

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Saying Goodbye

It is never easy saying goodbye. If the above-mentioned ways don’t seem to help your child reduce asthma attacks, it might be time to re-home your cat.

Naturally, you or your child may feel sad, devastated, or even angry. Losing pets often feels like you’re losing a loved one. If these feelings persist, speak to a professional counsellor or therapist as soon as possible.

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References: 

Fuld, Gilbert, and Elizabeth Matsui. (2018, May 21). Cats and Children with Asthma. HealthyChildren.org. www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/allergies-asthma/Pages/Cats-and-Children-with-Asthma.aspx

If I Have Asthma, Can I Keep My Pet? (for Teens) – Nemours KidsHealth. (2017, May). Edited by Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation,  kidshealth.org/en/teens/asthma-pet.html

Jewell, Tim. (2019, May 9). Cats and Asthma: What’s the Connection? Healthline Media. www.healthline.com/health/asthma/cats-and-asthma

Vann, Madeline R. (2013, October 1). Living With Pets When You Have Asthma: Everyday Health. Everyday Health. www.everydayhealth.com/hs/allergic-asthma-in-adults/living-with-pets-and-asthma/