Allergic to cat but NO symptoms?

Posted on: Tue, 06/20/2006 - 9:38pm
vlcarnes's picture
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Joined: 11/17/2005 - 09:00

I have the strangest situation and I just wanted some feedback. My PA daughter is allergic to peanuts (>100), nuts, molds, dogs and cats. Her cat allergy is a Class 5 on RAST tests and huge on skin tests. Both of our allergists say she is extremely allergic. For reasons that I won't get into, we recently acquired a kitten for what was supposed to be a week (interim home before going to permanent one). To make a long story shorter, the permanent home fell through and we've had the kitty now for 3.5 weeks. My daughter had absolutely no symptoms for the first week. Then, she started getting hives from contact (around face and wrists). No respiratory symptoms at all.

I went on line that if you wipe a cat down periodically, you can dramatically reduce the dander. So, I started doing this nightly. Since then, I have not seen a single hive on her. She holds the kitty constantly, rubs it against her face, kisses it, etc. etc. (BTW: not because I let her, but because she's 5 and can't seem to help herself). She was also diagnosed with asthma at age 1.5 due to a couple of wheezing episodes with colds. She is now 5.5 and since she was 2, she has neither wheezed nor has she ever had any attacks. Needless to say, I'm very skeptical regarding whether she even has asthma. Regardless, my allergist thinks I'm crazy to even consider keeping the kitty due to how "severely" allergic my daughter is.

Anyway, my 3 children are BEGGING me to keep the kitty. Any thoughts? Am I doing her some insidious harm if she's totally asymptomactic? Has anyone out there ever experienced anything like this?

HELP!! Thanks.

[This message has been edited by vlcarnes (edited June 21, 2006).]

Posted on: Tue, 06/20/2006 - 10:48pm
becca's picture
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Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

We had our cat before dd was born(my cat before I even met dh). Dd tested allergic upon her allergy visit after discovering food allergies, but never had an obvious reaction. In hindsight, she did seem overall more allergic to everything(sensetive skin, occasional mystery hives) then, but she was also 3 and younger.
Because she was born into the home with the cat, I think it desensitized her. HOWEVER, now that we have not had the cat for 3+ years, she reacted to cats for the first obvious time on Sat. night. I have wondered a bit at our piano teacher's home as well. Seems she scrathses her noe alot during lessons, esp. in the winter.
Well, Sat., she was very itchy around her nose and eyes from touching cats then her face. She seemed relieved by washing her hands and face then resisting touching(hard to do). So, she kept washing up. She is 6.
So, now, it seems, without the constant desensitization, the periodic exposures are sensetizing her.
Anecdotal, but FWIW, thought I would share.
Way back when our allergist said, "I can tell you to get rid of your cat. You won't. So I will just say, do not replace him when he is gone." becca

Posted on: Tue, 06/20/2006 - 11:45pm
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Joined: 01/16/2006 - 09:00

I was in my 30's when I finally got my food allegy diagnosis. He also did the SPT for environmentals. I was a 4++ for cats. At the time we had 5 (used to work at a Vet school). Like Becca's allergist, he suggested I not replace any in the future. He said I would probably be ok with 1 or 2. My eyes still get very swollen and itchy if I don't wash my hands just after petting the cat.
The best thing he told me was to keep our bedrooms free of pets. Both the cats and I were resistant to this at first, but it has worked out just fine. And my bedroom is cleaner without all the fur! LOL We are gradually switching our house over to all hard surface flooring. So far the MBR has hardwood, all bathrooms are tiled, and the kitchen through the den are tiled. Much easier to clean, especially with pets.
Tell your DD that if she want to keep the cat, she must keep it [b]out of her face[/b] and [b]wash her hands after petting it[/b]. Just make it "house rule".
Cat saliva seems to be the problem for some people. I'd love to know what you're using to wipe the cat?
Daisy

Posted on: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 12:23am
vlcarnes's picture
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Joined: 11/17/2005 - 09:00

Thanks - both - for your thoughts. I have been using distilled water and paper towels to wipe the kitty (tap water leaves a residue, apparently). He has no problem with it. He just stands still in the sink - it takes about 2 minutes. Also, "allerpet" sells wipes that reduce dander as well - although I'm sure these are a lot more expensive than distilled water.
I have a family that has offered to take and really wants the kitty, so I'm really torn. I want my kids to have a pet, but I also don't want to worry everyday if I'm somehow harming my daughter. I think too that this might be my one and only chance to give the kitty to a good home where he will be well-loved without a major disruption in his and our lives since he is still a kitten and my kids, while attached, wouldn't be totally devastated.
Anyway, thanks again for your thoughts! I really appreciate it.

Posted on: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 12:32am
Daisy's picture
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Joined: 01/16/2006 - 09:00

Could you try another type of pet? (Just saw that she is allergic to dogs and cats.) Nice that you found a home for the kitty...could you get visitation?
I'll have to try your wiping method. Although, my cats are 14 and 16. Don't know how they'll adjust. They are very good about letting DD brush them.
Thanks,
Daisy
[This message has been edited by Daisy (edited June 21, 2006).]

Posted on: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 1:16am
shoshana18's picture
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Joined: 02/02/2005 - 09:00

just because there are no respiratory symptoms now doesn't mean they won't appear. my dd when first diagnosed with her dog allergy just had eczema. while we were trying to find a home for the dog (which took several months), she developed nasal/respiratory symptoms as the time went on.
i had my golden retriever long before my dh or my dd and she was the previous light of my life for 8 years. however, there was no doubt in my mind what should be done. you can reduce dander, you can somewhat isolate the pet, etc. but your child is still allergic and even if YOU don't SEE symptoms, that doesn't mean they are not there or won't appear. i wouldn't put a child through that personally.

Posted on: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 1:19am
starlight's picture
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Joined: 01/16/2004 - 09:00

In college, I heard of at least 3 people who were fine with their cats at home. They moved into the dorm, and when they went back for Christmas, they started reacting to their cats.
Keeping up the exposure is definately the key to being able to live with animals. If the dander wipes are working and it's not making any of her allergy symptoms worse, then I don't see any problem with it. I'm allergic to dogs, but I have one sitting in my lap right now. I even take naps with her on the couch, but she's not allowed in my room (in theory, she still gets in there but only for a minute at a time). Sometimes when she licks me or gets her snot on me I'll get a hive, but since I started allergy shots this has only happened twice (I started them in February or March). Just make sure she keeps her hands washed after touching the cat, and vaccuum often. We have blankets on all the chairs my dog is allowed to sit on, so they can be easily washed weekly (this is very common- I've seen other families do this too just to cut down on the hair on their couches). If your cat goes outside, wipe her paws off before she comes indoors so she doesn't track in pollen. If you do all that, I think your DD will be fine.
And about the asthma, some people with asthma do only have problems when they're sick. So make sure you keep her inhalers filled and up-to-date.

Posted on: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 1:43am
my2boys's picture
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Joined: 01/26/2005 - 09:00

My PA son's three worse allergies are cats, peanuts, and egg whites. We have 2 cats. I was told by a nurse not to get rid of the cats. Another friend who is severly allergic to cats, and also has two, was told by her dr not to get rid of them because their presence will always be in the house(rugs, furniture, pillows). My son has never had a problem other than some sneezing in the winter months when the velux blanket is in my bed. The way I see it, that allergy is not the one that can kill him.

Posted on: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 1:44am
VariegatedRB's picture
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Joined: 11/23/2005 - 09:00

Personally, I would get rid of it since you have already said you are going to and like you said if you do it now it won't be too difficult for everyone. And then find a pet they can have- was she tested for rabbit? They are great pets!
I think what happens (or can happen) is even though you don't see obvious symptoms, the more allergens you are exposed to, the more you react to other allergens... so, you might not see her sneezing around the cat, but her reactions to other things she is allergic to might be worse.
It is also possible she is having reactions but they are less obvious...
I say this as an sdult with allergies and pets (cats, a dog, and a rabbit-- all of whom I am allergic to). *I* would be happier living without them, but they are my children's pets, so I just try to reduce the exposure (keeping them away from my laundry, bedroom, etc) and they will NOT be replaced!
Tara P

Posted on: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 2:03am
selketine's picture
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Joined: 04/11/2004 - 09:00

My son who is also allergic to peanuts tested even MORE allergic to cats. I've had cats since before he was born and so he has been used to having one or two cats around (one cat died last December after a long life).
William does not react to the cat(s) at all nor any other cats at other people's houses. The allergist said it was likely due to his constant exposure to cats and she said nothing about getting rid of them.
So...I would keep the cat - why not? I always want to have a cat so I don't plan on letting this be the last one! I really love cats and as long as William doesn't react then I don't see why not having them.
On a side note, I recently read in the paper that some breeder has developed an "allergy free" cat - which they sell for about $9000!

Posted on: Wed, 06/21/2006 - 3:12am
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

My son tested highly allergic to cats at 18 months, which we were quite surprised at since we had had a cat for years before he was born and he never showed the slightest sign of allergy to him. However, he did sneeze and itch around other cats, and he had a horrible allergy to dogs. If a dog licked him he would break out in head to toe hives - awful! Now at age 7 we still have the same cat and still no problems. He doesn't react to any cats now. In fact, we just got another one. He is also less allergic to dogs, to the point where he will either not react at all or just get redness where licked. Although there still seem to be some breeds he reacts to more than others.
Our first allergist said to get rid of the cat but the second one (which we stayed with for a long time) said we should keep him as long as DS didn't show any overt symptoms, because otherwise he might become even more sensitive.
Just our experience. DS and the cat are best buddies. They don't sleep together, though, and I would have to recommend not letting the cat in the bedroom if possible.
Good luck with your decision - trust yourself to make the best choice for your family. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
Lori

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