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Ask the Allergist

Ask the Allergist

Do I have a cat allergy?

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Question
I have never been allergic to cats. Two days ago I got a new kitten. Yesterday I began having a lot of allergy symptoms. Last night I put him in my guest bathroom and deep cleaned my room, which was the only place he had been. It has been approximately 15 hours, but my symptoms haven't improved very much. Is there any way to determine if I have a cat allergy?
Answer

Yes, allergy testing can determine if you are allergic to cats. There are two available tests provided by a board-certified allergist. A skin prick test for cats is a simple test that involves scratching the skin with cat extract. 15 minutes later the pricked skin is checked for a reaction. The second testing option is a blood test called a specific IgE test for a cat allergy. Typically, all aeroallergens are tested with both tests. These include cat, dog, pollen, mold, roach, feather, and dust mite. It may be helpful to be tested for other allergies at the same time. It is possible to develop a cat allergy even if you were not allergic before. Here is more information on pet allergies.

Categories
Diagnosis, Pet Allergy
Answered by

Douglas T. Johnston, DO, FAAAAI, FACAAI, is an allergist/clinical immunologist at Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Assistant Professor at Edward Via School of Osteopathic Medicine in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He is a fellow of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI). He has lectured at national and international medical conferences and has publications in several medical journals, including “Clinical Immunology,” “World Allergy Organization Journal,” “Journal of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology,” “The Journal of the American Medical Association,” and the “New England Journal of Medicine.”

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