“A Swedish study in 2018 * showed that a small child in contact with cats (or dogs) before the age of one year would avoid the risk of allergies,” informs Dr. Catherine Quéquet, allergist , author of “New Allergies” published by Rocher. In general, allergy to cats can be manifested from the age of 2 and a half to 3 years (especially in children with a history of atopic family). Symptoms caused by cat allergy are mainly respiratory (asthma attack) and ENT (rhinitis) sometimes associated with conjunctivitis. The main allergen that causes it is very small and volatile, it is Fel d1. Very common, it is 3rd cause of respiratory allergy after allergy to dust mites and allergy to pollen.
What causes a cat allergy?
the The cat is a carrier of various allergens. They are found in their sebaceous and salivary glands. They are present in your skin and your saliva and we find them in the hair you lick several times a day to wash. Some cats are said to be hypoallergenic because they produce less Fel d1, the most important allergen. However, this name must be qualified: “Nothing proves that the hypoallergenic cat is 100% hypoallergenic! 80% of allergies are due to Fel d1 but we must not forget Fel d2 and Fel d4, the other cat allergens, ”says our expert. .
What are the symptoms when the baby is allergic to cats?
They are varied and manifest immediately:
– repetitive and successive sneezing,
– nasal discharge,
– itchy eyes, conjunctivitis,
– outbreak of atopic eczema, contact urticaria (in the area where the cat has come to rub: legs, hands, arms …).
If your child has severe asthma after contact with a cat, do not wait to go to the emergency room.
Separating the beloved cat from the family is an essential solution only in case of severe allergy, such as severe asthma. “Don’t abandon your cat! Call your friends for adoption, some of them will probably be willing to adopt your fur ball,” says Catherine Quéquet (also a friend of cats). Otherwise, it is not necessary, coexistence between your feline and your small child is possible as long as you take some precautions:
– Limit contacts as much as possible. Keep your cat away from places where you can hang out with your little one, such as the couch. A fabric sofa traps allergens more easily than a leather sofa. Your cat will no longer have to enter your baby’s room or sleep in his or her gorilla, crib or bed. You should also make sure that your cat does not take a nap in the closet on the baby’s clothes and personal items (toys, stuffed animals, comforter, etc.).
– Clean and vacuum regularly. Invest in a vacuum cleaner with bag and HEPA filter (index 13). Optimize your cleansing action by equipping your home with an air purifier with a HEPA filter (without adding essential oils).
– Avoid carpets and rugs (which are also loved by dust mites!) And opt for easily washable flooring such as tile, parquet and linoleum.
– When renting a holiday, make sure you do not stay with a cat owner for the summer. In fact, the cat’s allergy is very volatile and stays in the house for up to 6 or 8 months, even after the animal has left.
– Are you planning a vacation with your grandparents, happy teachers of a cat? Preventive antihistamine treatment may be given in the days before the child’s stay and the child should maintain the same habits as at home with the feline. This solution is only possible if the child is not very allergic to cats.
Does your cat like to splash in the water? Showering or bathing your cat once a month or wiping a wet glove over his coat once a week is a possible solution to significantly reduce the level of Fel d1 in his coat, but the effectiveness is of short duration (about 24 hours). Tip: The cat accepts a shower with hot water more easily than with cold water.
The treatment of a respiratory allergy always begins with prevention (see previous paragraph). If this is not effective, your doctor or pediatrician will prescribe medical treatment for your child (antihistamines). Sublingual desensitization is only possible from the age of 5 but we note that the effectiveness of desensitization in cats is less marked than desensitization to mites or pollens. “In fact, the allergenic power varies from one cat to another, the concentration of the allergen Fel d1 depends on the level of the hormone testosterone in the cat. A cat produces less Fel d1 than a neutered cat and even less than an uncastrated cat … A small child can tolerate his cat’s company very well and have an allergic reaction to the neighbor’s cat, ”confirms our expert.
On the other hand, vaccines were started to suppress Fel d1 in cats and they were quickly forgotten, some veterinarians opposed it. The croquettes on the market (Purina Proplan LiveClear) would try to suppress the effects of Fel d1 by neutralizing them in the cat’s saliva.
- Desensitization in case of allergies in children
- What is the risk of allergy to the baby when taking antacids and antibiotics?
* source: study conducted by the Sahlgrenska Academy of the University of Gothenburg.