Asthma UK community forum

Cat allergic symptoms and building a tolerance

Hi, new to the forum here. I mostly have mild asthma since a child. Knowing that cats are usually one of my triggers we have recently got a gorgeous Siberian cat, having researched they tend to have less of the protein causing reactions, wheezing etc. Unfortunately she has given me more asthma symptoms though and I am regularly tight chested. Having seen my doctor, I am trying out daily antihistamines in the last week which so far are helping.

I'm really keen to find out stories of anyone that has experienced a natural desensitisation to a pet cat where their asthma symptoms got better over time? And how long could this take months or even years? I am hoping there is a chance this could happen for me. For now I'm seeing how I feel on a weekly basis and becoming more attached to the cat!

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Hi! This I know a bit about. Our daughter, who is allergic and has asthma, is besotted with cats. She knew, however, that it is a trigger for her. Like you she researched and found out about Siberians. They often all less allergenic, but not always. It is not foolproof. For her it has worked with her cat. Another Siberian may not.

These days many people who sell Siberians allow allergic people to come and spend a day, so that they know if it will work before buying. She didn’t have that luxury so she was lucky.

Sadly, I suspect it is not a matter of developing less sensitivity, more that the cat produces smaller or no quantities of allergens, which not necessarily all of them do. For her it was fine from the word go and has remained so. She can bury her face in his fur and she is fine. She could never do that before, even if she varied how much she reacted to each cat we had. Apparently dark/black cats are worse and lighter better, but also one we had, half Siamese/half Persian, triggered less allergies (and she was talkative to boot and had a flat face and round body.)

I am not sure this is what you want to hear, but I hope it helps.

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Thanks for coming back to me and I'm glad your daughter is fine with her siberian. They truly are a magnificent breed!

As people do go for cat immunotherapy I am still hopeful that I may build some tolerance. It's early days (3 weeks) since we have the cat. I haven't needed to take my reliever inhaler for a few day so I think the antihistamines are working for me. I regularly use my preventer too which definitely helps with asthma overall to reduce symptoms.

We are thinking of getting her spayed soon and I read that also in females it can reduce the allergen but obviously may not.

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Hi & welcome.

I have a violent & on at least one occasion life-threatening allergy to cats sadly. I think the problem is that people with little understanding of serious asthma assume that it's just the hair or smell & if you can reduce that all will be fine. I think that this holds true if the allergy is mild or at a level where anti-allergen treatment can work. For a lot of people you read about, the allergen might have caused a bit of a sneeze rather than serious breathing difficulties.

I don't pretend to totally understand, but I think that the allergens can come from the 'whole cat' so to speak - hair, waste, breath, mites that it collects, etc.

Unfortunately, & as Wheezycat says perhaps not good news for you, but I don't think that for many of us there is a realistic way to 'cure' this. Proponents of 'natural' remedies will make claims that they can sort out this, that or the other but there is hardly any - in truth probably no - research to show that these claims are true & tested across significant numbers of people.

Depending on how serious the allergy is there might be a management strategy for you though. The fact that you've had the cat for a few weeks suggests it isn't a major allergy (10 minutes in my house & I'd probably be ringing 999!) so there may be hope, but I think you also need to be realistic & assess what, on balance, is right for you. It may be that you choose a trade-off of accepting some reaction, but you need to keep a careful eye on your symptoms if you choose that path.

Good luck anyway & I hope you find something that works.


Good advice! I'm willing to accept some trade off to keep her as she is delightful but all depends how much. Don't want to become too reliant on meds.

Interestingly I did get a RAST cat allergy blood test prior to deciding to get a cat and came up completely negative which was a surprise!. Not always accurate I suppose.

I'm now thinking of cat immunotherapy and will try to find out if my GP will agree to refer me.


Prior to our daughter got her Siberian, some considerable time before, she managed to persuade her GP to refer her for this treatment. She was then living in Wales, and she was referred to Brompton, I think. At first the Brompton were dismissive, but then got interested when they realised what she reacts on. She is atopic, even if not reacting as violently as minushabens. At that point she was told she coukdn’t have it, due to her atopy. So, then they found out about Siberians.

So, be aware, even if you get a referral, they may refuse it.


Cats and dust were my original triggers when first diagnosed 28 years ago but I had no problem with viral infections etc now I am ok with both dust and cats, I can visit my mum who has a cat, just your common moggy, and I am fine. 20 years ago I couldn't be in the house for more than 5 minutes and I would be wheezing and sneezing!

However, viral infections are now dreadful just one sneeze and it's on my chest. So I think I have either become used to cats or have lost the sensitivity but gained others.

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