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How to Tell If You’re Allergic to Cats: 7 Signs to Look For

Written by: Patricia Dickson

Last Updated on January 12, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

girl sneezing near cat

How to Tell If You’re Allergic to Cats: 7 Signs to Look For

As pet parents, we adore our feline friends, and owning a cat is a truly wonderful experience. Even though cats can be aloof, moody, and have a habit of doing whatever they please, they can also be loving, cuddly, sweet, and adorable too.

Of course, that’s only if you’re not allergic to cats. While you’ll still be smiling and fawning over your cat, you’ll also be sniffling, sneezing, and in some cases, downright miserable! While almost 25% of households in America own at least one cat, many people are also allergic to felines.

If you love cats but seem to get sick whenever you’re around one, you might very well be one of those unfortunate people.

So, how do you tell if you’re allergic to your cat? We’ll give you a few signs to look out for in our guide below.

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The 7 Signs You Are Allergic to Cats

1. Itchy, Watery Eyes

Red, watery, itchy, and sometimes even dry eyes are a sign that you’re having an allergic reaction to your cat. While these same symptoms could be associated with seasonal allergies, if it’s happening when you hold or pet your cat, that might very well be the problem.

In fact, some people are so allergic to the dander from cats that they can’t even be in the same room with one without having itchy, watery, red eyes. These symptoms are caused by pet dander, so if it only happens when you’re holding your cat or a cat is in the same room with you, it’s a safe bet to assume you’re allergic to cats.

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

2. Exhaustion

Many allergy sufferers don’t realize that an allergy to cats can cause you to feel exhausted all the time. In fact, experts call this “brain fog”, and it’s caused by inflammation from the allergy. Even seasonal allergies can cause exhaustion because they leave you feeling drained, unable to sleep well at night, and congestion.

Your body’s immune system kicks in because of the inflammation, which leaves you fatigued, exhausted, and unable to do many of the things you love or even have to do. If you feel completely exhausted after being around cats, this could be the reason why.

3. Sore Throat with Sinus Discomfort

Sometimes it’s hard to determine whether you have a cold or are allergic to your cat because many allergies come with cold-like symptoms. A sore throat and sinus discomfort are two of those symptoms to watch out for.

If the sore throat and sinus drainage isn’t a constant symptom, many sufferers do put it down to a cold. However, if you’re constantly feeling stopped up or your throat is constantly itching, then it could be that you’re allergic to your cat.

cat owner sneezing
Image by: Pormezz, Shutterstock

4. Skin Rashes

While not quite as prevalent as the other signs of cat allergies on the list, some sufferers have developed skin rashes as a reaction. While a sudden, itchy rash will certainly let you know you’re allergic to something, you should also watch for signs of a general redness on your skin.

This redness will most likely show up on the areas of your skin that come in contact with your cat. It is possible that you’ll only have this redness show up on your skin after coming in contact with a cat, so you need to watch carefully for general redness just to be sure.

girl with skin rashes
Image by: Monstar Studio, Shutterstock

5. Asthma

In most cases, pet allergies are just annoying to deal with. However, in some people, the allergy can become dangerous. For example, someone who is allergic to cats can have a severe asthma attack when around cats.

In fact, it’s essential to note that prolonged exposure to cats can lead to chronic asthma for people who are allergic, to begin with. So, if you see any of the signs and symptoms on our list, it’s best to talk to your doctor to see if there’s anything that can be done to safely combat your cat allergy so that you don’t have to give away your feline friend.

6. Shortness of Breath

Some people who are allergic to cats end up feeling short of breath when they’re around them. This is because of the pet dander floating in the air, which gets into your nasal passages.

There have been reports of cat allergy sufferers starting to gag, choke, and cough from shortness of breath within 30 minutes of being exposed to cat dander in a room they are in. If you have shortness of breath when you’re in the room with cats, then it is likely you’re allergic to them and need to get help.

woman allergic to cat
Image Credit: Image Point Fr, Shutterstock

7. Swelling and Puffiness in the Face

Some cat allergy sufferers also end up with swelling and puffiness in their face when they’re exposed to cats, or sometimes even in a room a cat has been in. In most cases, this swelling is in your sinuses and your face and can cause a serious sinus headache as well.

If this swelling, puffiness, and head congestion are more intense than with a cold, you might be allergic to your cat and need to find a way to combat the allergies before they get any worse.

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Humans and Cat Allergies Explained

Believe it or not, you’re not the only one who is allergic to your cat. In fact, over one-third of Americans have an allergic reaction around their furry friends.

This reaction is caused by urine, dander in the air, and even the protein in the saliva of your cat. However, it’s not always easy to diagnose a pet allergy and sometimes, doctors have to do extensive testing. If you have more than one of the symptoms above when you’re around your feline pal, then you’re probably allergic and need to find a way to cope.

It’s also possible to develop an allergy to cats later on in life, even if you’ve never had a reaction before, so just because you weren’t allergic to them when you were a kid doesn’t mean you won’t be as an adult.

If you feel like you’re allergic to your cat, the best thing you can do is contact your doctor. Once it’s determined that you’re allergic, your doctor can hopefully help you develop a treatment plan to keep you allergy free without having to rehome your feline.

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Final Thoughts

This concludes our guide on cat allergies and what signs to look for if you think you might be allergic to your cat. Remember, while most allergies are minor and just an inconvenience, allergy sufferers can develop chronic asthma if they are around cats constantly, so make sure you get help before that happens.

Featured Image: Kmpzzz, Shutterstock

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