Ten percent of the human population has pet allergies, and cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies. If you’re one of those allergic individuals, you may be wondering if a cat allergy can actually kill you.
Cat allergies, like any other allergy, can be mild, moderate, or severe. There are a range of symptoms that affected people can experience. Some break out in hives, others get stuffy noses and sneeze, and others even have trouble breathing. But can a cat allergy be so severe that it could be considered lethal?
Here is everything you need to know about cat allergies and whether they can actually kill you.
Can Cat Allergies Cause Anaphylactic Shock?
Allergies, in general, can become lethal if they cause anaphylactic shock. Anaphylaxis is a rare but severe allergic reaction that can occur suddenly, escalate quickly, and potentially even be deadly.
The condition comes on rapidly and can lead to death if the individual doesn’t receive prompt treatment. It progresses from symptoms like itchy rash, throat or tongue swelling, shortness of breath, vomiting, lightheadedness, and low blood pressure. Over the course of minutes to hours, symptoms can escalate and become deadly.
The most common triggers for anaphylactic reactions are food (for example, peanuts and shellfish), latex, medication, and insect stings. Although cats are not listed as a common trigger for anaphylactic shock, that doesn’t mean the idea of cat dander causing anaphylactic shock is completely out of the realm of reality.
Anyone who would suffer an anaphylactic reaction to a cat is most likely someone who already suffers a severe allergy to cats and is aware of their condition. A cat allergy that makes you a little sneezy would almost never suddenly escalate to an allergy so severe that it could cause anaphylactic shock.
Cat Allergies Can Still Be Lethal
While the odds of anyone going into complete anaphylactic shock aren’t high, severe allergy symptoms could lead to death if not treated accordingly.
The same allergens that cause watery eyes and itchiness in one person can cause an asthma attack in others. A person suffering from allergic asthma could have increasingly severe symptoms the more they interact with a cat.
If the individual is not treated and removed from the cat environment, severe allergic asthma attacks can restrict the airways in a deadly manner.
Can I Still Live With A Cat If I Have Severe Allergies?
Most allergists and health professionals would highly suggest NOT living with a cat if you have cat allergies so severe that they could cause a potential allergic asthma attack or if you have experienced anaphylactic shock in the past caused by any allergen.
While we here at CatTime love cats, if you don’t already have a cat, we would not suggest getting one if you have severe cat allergies. At they very least, you should spend some time in a home that does have a cat, and see if you can tolerate it.
There are people, however, who do find ways to live with cats, even with the worst of allergies. Some people swear that they’ve built up a tolerance after enough exposure.
There are lots of allergy management strategies to use if you’re already living with a cat and experience any amount of allergic symptoms. And in fact, scientists may have found ways to reduce cat allergens by using egg products. However, that needs further study before we can call it a “cure,” though it can give allergy sufferers hope.
Do you or someone you know have a deadly allergy to cats? What do you do to make sure you stay healthy and safe? Let us know in the comments below!