Scientists are bumming out cat lovers everywhere with the news that cats could be bad for your health, especially if you didn’t grow up with felines around. Apparently, if you were around them as a kid, your chances of developing allergies and asthma are lower, but if you get your first cat as an adult, your chances of developing an allergic reaction to it are nearly doubled.
Dr. Mario Olivieri of the University Hospital of Verona, Italy and his colleagues surveyed about 6,000 European subjects–none of whom had any antibodies for cat to start–twice over the course of nine years. Of those who didn’t have a cat on either occasion, 3% became sensitized over the course of the nine years; 5% of those who did acquire a cat became sensitized. But here’s the catch: Only those who allowed cats into their bedrooms became sensitized.
Dr. Andy Nish of the Allergy and Asthma Care Center in Gainesville, Georgia wasn’t involved in the study, but he told Reuters:
If you are an adult with asthma and/or allergies, you should think twice about getting a cat and particularly, if you do so, letting it into your bedroom.
Keeping the cat out of the bedroom is a step I have always advised. It is remarkable that none who did not allow the cat in the bedroom became sensitized. Second best is to keep the cat outdoors always. If it comes in even occasionally, its dander will remain in the house for months. If the cat needs to be indoors, at least keep it out of your bedroom, consider a HEPA filter for your bedroom and consider washing the cat at least once a week.
Although unproven, my hypothesis is that a weekly cat bath would present a larger chance of health problems than allergies. Or, you could just get one of those hypoallergenic sphynx cats.
Photo: Sphynx Cats