Can Someone Who Is Allergic To Cats Develop An Immunity?

A woman sitting next to a black cat raises her hand to cover a sneeze.

(Photo Credit: Shutterstock)

If you start sneezing and get red, watery eyes every time you’re around cats, you might not be doomed to a life without a kitty to cuddle. Some people can develop an immunity to specific, individual cats. However, getting there may take some time. If you’re prepared to suffer through feeling like you have the flu or a bad cold for a few months, you might be able to own a cat of your own and not always be allergic to it. Remember, consult your doctor first before trying these ideas.

How Developing Immunity Works

Some people can develop an immunity to a specific cat or cats. Allergies occur because your body mistakenly sees the allergen as a foreign invader. Over time, some pet owners’ bodies may grow accustomed to the allergens of a specific cat and their reactions will diminish, according to LiveScience. In fact, certain food allergies are treated based on a similar principle of low-level exposure over time.

Even if you do develop this immunity, remember that it’s only to your specific cats. Most likely, your allergies will flare up all over again if you are around new cats.

Help Yourself Along The Way

There are seven types of cat allergens, and they’re found in saliva, skin excretions, and even urine, according to Dr. Jean Hofve, a holistic veterinarian. While you’re trying to adjust to cats in your home, it may help to take specific steps to reduce your exposure to the allergens. CatTime has a great article about reducing allergens in your home. In addition to the suggestions in that story, there are a few other unique ideas you can try.

Hofve suggests using non-toxic anti-allergy shampoos or wipes designed especially for cats. Adding some Omega-3 fatty acids to a cat’s diet can might also help. Before trying these, consult your veterinarian.

In addition, make your bedroom feline free. This will give you a place in the house where you can go and not be exposed to the allergens. Consider adding an air purifier with a HEPA filter to help remove airborne allergens. You might also try adding probiotics to your own diet.

Getting Shots For Cat Allergies

If you don’t seem to be adjusting, you can also try getting shots to help your cat allergies. These immunotherapy shots work on the same principle as exposure to a cat over time. The injections contain cat allergens starting in tiny doses that are gradually increased. You’ll get an allergy shot once or twice a week for about six months, with boosters every three years or so.

Always Consult A Doctor First

Before trying any of the suggestions listed above, consult your doctor. Some people with more severe allergies, such as asthmatic reactions to cats, shouldn’t try exposure therapy because they might have a very severe response. So make sure you talk to your doctor and get an allergy test first.

Have you or anyone you know been able to overcome an allergy to cats? What helped to reduce symptoms? Let us know in the comments below!

  • Carla Davison

    I am technically allergic to both cats and dogs, however, there was no way that I was going to go through my entire life without having a furbaby to love and call my own!
    Roll back the calendar to 20 years ago … I was a young mother to my 4 year old son who had been begging me for a kitten for as long as he could talk! One day while out shopping in the local mall, we saw one of the most beautiful long haired kittens in a pet shop window (she turned out to be a Maine Coin cat). We both wanted her soooo bad, but I knew what was in store for me if I were to bring her home, so I immediately went to the pharmacy before even bringing our new kitty home, and had my allergy meds prescription filled!
    I won’t lie but it felt like I was living in hell (feeling like I was sick with a cold or flu for 3-4 months straight). After I realized that I didn’t need my allergy meds anymore, I started hanging out at friends’ homes that had multi cat households, and it only took a couple of weeks to get my immunity up with them too!! So what’s the next thing I did? About a year after I got our furbaby, I ended up rescuing 3 kittens by bring them to my home.

    Roll ahead 20 years ….I now have a house full of kitties (I currently run a Persian cattery IN my house, where I live lol) and I don’t have any allergy reactions/attacks from them! The only times I have even the slightest reaction from them is when they sleep really close to my face at night (maybe 3-4 times a year, tops!), or if one if them accidentally scratch me (the site swells up something bad for a good part of a week even after cleaning the area immediately afterwards with soap and rubbing alcohol)..

    I have been telling everyone I know, for the last 20 years that I made myself become immune to cats, and not all hope is lost if you’re allergic! I literally forced myself (well, my body’s immunity system) to actually become immune and accepting to cats!

    So, yes!!! There is hope for people who love kitties but are allergic, and seem to invest in allergy pill medication stocks when around those furry babies!

    PS – I very well could have gone for allergy shots, however, I am more allergic (aka petrified lol) to needles than I am of cats, so that wasn’t happenin!! 😉

    So to all of you cat allergy sufferers…. There IS hope!