Of the many things that can trigger an allergy in your toddler, dogs and cats -- the latter more so than the former -- are among the most common. Contrary to popular belief, cat allergies are not caused by the animal's fur, but rather by proteins in her saliva and dander. So-called hypoallergenic cats may, therefore, cause symptoms.
Symptoms of a Cat Allergy
If your toddler is allergic to cats, he may experience these symptoms around the pet:
- Runny nose
- Itchy, inflamed eyes
A cold typically goes away in a few days; a cat allergy will not, as long as the offending animal is around. Similarly, seasonal allergies triggered by pollen, for example, are likely to improve at certain times of the year, while a cat allergy will persist. If you are not sure whether your toddler has a cat allergy, an allergist can perform skin or blood tests to determine if the child's symptoms are indeed caused by feline substances.
Nasal discharge due to a cold is likely to be thick and yellow or green; a runny nose caused by allergies usually produces clear mucus.
Cat Allergies and Asthma
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, 20 percent to 30 percent of people who suffer from asthma have severe flare-ups of symptoms when exposed to cats. Cat allergies can also progress to asthma.
Coping With Your Toddler's Cat Allergy
One way to address a toddler's cat allergy is to find a new home for the kitty, especially if the child's allergic reaction is severe. After you've secured a foster home for the cat, thoroughly clean your house, as cat dander can linger and cause symptoms long after the pet has left.
If you choose to keep your cat, employ strategies to help minimize cat allergens in the home.
- Keep the cat out of your toddler's bedroom and confined to one part of the house, ideally an area that is not carpeted.
- Limit items in your toddler's room that can attract and trap cat dander, such as linens, window drapes and stuffed animals.
- Sweep, vacuum and dust your home frequently, and regularly launder textiles such as furniture covers, chair cushions and bedding.
If your child is allergic to cats specifically, a series of shots may help her overcome the symptoms and possibly prevent her from developing other allergies in the future. An allergist can help you determine if your toddler is a candidate for allergy shots.