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Can Your Cat Be Allergic to Humans? Quick Facts

Approximately 10%-20% of the population is allergic to cats and dogs. Of course, people can be allergic to far more than just pets. We can be allergic to different foods, pollen, dust, mold, and a lot more. While everyone knows that humans experience allergies, fewer people are aware that pets do as well.

Cats are often allergic to very similar things as we are, namely fleas and foods, including beef, fish, chicken, dairy, and more. Naturally, far less research has been done on cat allergies than human allergies, so we don’t know nearly as much about what allergens affect cats.

Still, we know that humans can be allergic to cats. Does that work in reverse? Can cats be allergic to humans? It’s a pretty rare occurrence, but the reality is that yes, cats can be allergic to humans in much the same way that people can be allergic to cats.cat face divider 2

Why Are Human Allergies Less Common Than Pet Allergies?

Most people probably never even give thought to the possibility of animals being allergic to people, even though loads of people are allergic to animals. Granted, it’s far less common for animals to be allergic to us than for us to be allergic to them. But, why is that the case?

Well, for one thing, we don’t have fur like many of the animals we’re allergic to. It’s not that we’re allergic to fur though. People tend to be allergic to pet dander and saliva. Think of how many times you’ve watched your cat bathe itself with its tongue. Well, all of that saliva dries on its fur, leaving behind large amounts of the allergen found within saliva that causes people with cat allergies to react.

Credit: David Bokuchava, Shutterstock

It’s not just your cat’s saliva though that’s to blame. Pet dander comes from their skin, and it also collects on your cat’s hair. When you touch your cat, all of the allergens from the dander and saliva are then catapulted into the air around, leaving airborne allergens everywhere. Soon, those allergens will settle on the floor and furniture, waiting for you to kick them up again.

As your cat sheds, it’s leaving behind allergens on every hair that comes off. We tend not to shed hair the way that cats do, so we’re not constantly ejecting allergens into the atmosphere at the same rate as cats, dogs, and other furry mammals. And since we bathe so much more frequently than other furry mammal species, we don’t shed dead skin at the same rate either.

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Other Things Your Cat Could Be Reacting To

While it’s rather rare for cats to have allergic reactions to humans, it’s less rare for them to have reactions to things we wear or use. For instance, that smelly soap you love to use in the shower is full of fragrances and perfumes that could cause a reaction in your cat. Even the laundry detergent you use has the same potential. Similarly, most cleaning products contain preservatives that can also cause reactions in cats.

Ironically, cats can even be allergic to other pets. If you have multiple cats in the house, they could be allergic to each other’s dander and saliva. More likely, your cat could be allergic to dogs in the same household or other animals that they come in contact with.

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Though it’s rather rare for animals to be allergic to humans, it’s completely possible and does happen on occasion. For cats that are truly allergic to people, cat antihistamines are available that can potentially help treat the allergies.  But it’s more likely that your cat is allergic to something you’re wearing or using, such as your soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, or cleaners you use around the house.

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Featured image credit: AJR_photo, Shutterstock