I Think Our Son Is Allergic to Our Cats. What to Do?

Updated on December 13, 2011
E.E. asks from Miami, FL
26 answers

Most people would say get rid of them. Its very hard to do this as not only have I grown attached to the cats but more importantly my son has. He is always loving on them. He has grown a special bond with one of them who doesnt even come to us. She prefers him. I do give him Zyrtec every night and it seems to not be working...neither does Claritin. He coughs and coughs (I myself have asthma so I know sometimes when its hard to breath I feel the need to cough) I asked if he is having a hard time breathing and he said yes. :/ I do vacuum and have an air purifier and I dont let the cats go in our bedrooms but this os obviously not enough. Is there a better prescription version of allergy medicine for kids nI can ask his DR about? Has anyone had luck? He doesnt get the sniffles or sneeze just a cough and he does have issues with allergies without the cats too but nowhere near as often as he has with the cats around. He loves animals and I would hate to make him part with his feline friends...although if I HAVE to then I will but we are going to try different options beforehand. Also any suggestions from other that are going through the same would be WONDERFUL! HELP

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answers from Rochester on

I think I'd rather get rid of my cats before I DRUGGED my child needlessly. Not that I don't get it...I had three cats before I was married, they were mine and mine alone, and particularly one I was VERY attached to. But my husband is allergic...so they went to good homes.

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answers from Dallas on

Bathing the cats is a great idea, and one that will definitely cut down on the dander. Also, don't allow the cats outside, because they only bring in more allergies...even if you put them in the garage.

Also consider another allergy medicine called Singulair. As my allergist explained, it has medicine in it the others don't...Claritin, Benedryl, Zyrtec and several others. I'm on a maintenance dose of 1 a day which really helps my allergies.

And lastly is shots. If his allergies are that bad, have you considered getting the shots? It builds up an immunity to those items he's allergic to. I did them for a number of years and got rid of my allergies to dogs & cats. As a pet lover, this was fantastic in my book!



answers from Columbus on

It is usually the dander or saliva that causes the allergies so wiping the cat down with a damp cloth a few times a day may help. I would talk to his doctor about meds and maybe allergy testing. Hope it works out.

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answers from Dallas on

Emily, bless your heart. I went through this with my son, but it started when I was 10 and my mother hated cats and told everyone she was allergic. She had ME convinced that I was allergic too, plus I never really liked them. They DID give me problems. I've always had dogs - we had a Lassie collie at the time - about 3 months old. When my son was 3 and my daughter 2, a kitten wandered up to our babysitter's house. She wasn't going to feed it or anything. It was SO thin and pitiful. I got some food and put the cat in the garage while we went to church. I told the kids I would take her to the humane society the next day. Well, long story short - (my son was NEVER a morning person - more like a monster in the mornings - I'd have to get up 2 hours early to wake him up slowly and peacefully if I wanted him to cooperate at all! The next morning, I went into his room and the minute I touched him, he sat up, rubbed his eys and said, "Where's my kitty." He was the happiest little boy you've ever seen. I decided right then and there that she could stay.......BUT, I had a LONG talk with her and told her that if she was going to live in our house, there would be no scratching on the furniture, no sitting on the tables and counters, etc.... Well, we had our trials and we both compromised.

When my son turned 4, he developed a really bad case of asthma. My mother's first words were 'get rid of all those animals - especially the cat!' I told the kids we would have to find a home for Amber (calico with yellow eyes). Mark was sick and got sicker - he cried constantly, not wailing, but sobbing sometimes. It was more than I could handle. I asked the doctor about it. He said since Mark DID have other allergies besides cat dander, there were things I could do to minimize the problems (most of the things mentioned in your answers here). One thing I didn't see mentioned was to always wash his hair - every night - and change his pillow case daily and not let the cat sleep with him. Well, Mark would sneak her into his bed. But the doctor DID tell me that - in his experience - the more we are around things we're allergic to, we build up an immunity to them. He encouraged me to make her an inside-only cat, which I did. Within a month, the wheezing was gone. He would have a flare-up in the spring and fall, but doctor said that was mostly pollen and mountain cedar. He said keeping the cat inside was the biggest deterent - as cats roam outside, they gather dander, dust, pollen, dirt - all manner of allergens and bring them inside with them. I DID wipe the cat off with a damp rag every night before they went to bed. In fact, Mark took over that chore....and she let him. (I had to fight her, but she would sit still for him). While over the next several years, he continued to have seasonal allergies, he outgrew his asthma when he was about 12 and has cats today (he's 41) and they don't bother him.

Long story, sorry - if you guys are attached to your felines, there are other ways. This might sound awful coming from a mother, but through this and other things, my children have grown up with a tenderness and sensitivy for all living creatures. Now that they are grown, they have both thanked me several times for seeking remedies other than 'get rid of it' and how much they loved having pets while they were growing up.

I have a 15-year-old granddaughter who also had asthma (from the time she was about 3). The SIL insisted they get rid of their 2 cats, so my daughter conceded. But after Emily got worse even on 5 different meds, they decided to try all the things I did and they're all much happier now - and Emily is not on all the meds anymore, runs track, is in marching band, plays sports .... she has seasonal problems like my son when he was little. But she'd never consider getting rid of her pets.

Good luck! Keep us posted!

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answers from Kansas City on

This may sound crazy, but try using one of those sticky lint rollers (you know, the ones with the individual sheets that you peal off and throw away) on your cats. My friend does this, and her husbands allergies improved a lot. It works better than brushing them, because the dander sticks to the roller and can be thrown away, as opposed to brushing and everything becoming airborn.

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answers from Raleigh on

My son just recently developed an allergy to cats- a pretty severe one. This had never shown up before on his skin tests. At the time, we had two cats (one recently passed) that he loved very much. But, it was horrible. He had allergic shiners, was coughing, nose completely stopped up. Then a rash started appearing on his chest and face. He was already taking the full dose of Zyrtec, and Claritin didn't do a thing at all.
Unfortunately, the cats had to go out. I did give one of the cats away , but the older cat (which was primarily outdoor) was already sickly and had to stay with us. The person I gave the cat to had to give her back, and I just couldn't force myself to give her to an adoption center. So they both went in the garage. Now that one as passed, the other stays in the garage and seems happy as a lark. :) She goes outside if she wants to, or stays in the garage if she wants to. She has a magnetic cat door with a collar. She has free roam. To me, it's a win-win situation.
My son goes out and pets her very briefly from each day (and then washes his hands). But she can under no circumstances come in the house.
I don't know if this is an option for you (we live in the country on a large lot), but it has worked out well for us. But the bottom line is that the cats cannot be in your home- period. I'm so sorry. :( Hope this helps.

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answers from Lakeland on

IMO I would find a new home for the cats. Allergies can get worse with constant exposure. And why would you want your child to take medication forever?
There are things you can give the cats to try it that way. I would feed the cat organic foods, most cat allergies come from their saliva since they lick themselves clean. I have known people to have slight allergies and this worked for them. They make wipes and baths for the cats, but I don’t know how well they work. I understand that you don't want your child to be heartbroken, but your child’s health must come first.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Well, first find a good allergist and get him tested to see if his allergies are truly to cats or something else. If he's allergic to cats AND dust, for example, simply taking measure to control the dust more might help so that you don't need to get rid of the cats.

The biggest thing is to remove all carpeting (esp in bedrooms) b/c carpeting really traps things like animal dander and dust. We actually moved to a different condo b/c of the carpeting situation for our son and it has helped some. Air purifier and also encasing the mattress and pillow with hypoallergenic covers would be good (again, if he's allergic to dust). to know how to tackle this sitch, get the allergy testing so you know what you're fighting. good luck!

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answers from Chicago on

I've been on a steroid inhaler for our cats since I was 6. I've grown up that way. My parents were not the type to ship the cats away (nor am I).

Take your son to the doctor and get him started on a treatment. Sounds like he might have asthma. Especially if his issues aren't only related to the cats. Get him on something now, so the poor thing doesn't have to walk around gasping for air. What an awful feeling.

If he's on a steroid, you should only need to do 1-2x day for it to solve the problem. I've been on Flovent, FloNase, Nasacort, Advair and Singulair at different points in my life (Advair, currently, for the last 6 yrs). I can't tell you what a difference they make.

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answers from Dallas on

I myself am an asthmatic with a severe ( think anaphylactic) allergic reaction to cats. I can tell if a cat has been in a room within 10 minutes. You need to get rid of the cat ASAP. This will only lessen the problems. According to my allergist it's not the hair that causes problems, it's the protein in their skin, therefore shaving or bathing the cat will not work. the protein can remain active 2 or 3 years after the cat has been removed. It's also very sticky and adheres to any and every surface (windows, carpets, air ducts). Years ago there was an allergy store near north arlington that I bought a spray from that neutralizes the protein (I had to spray down the entire garage because the previous owner of our house kept her cat in there). I think it was allergen or something, you could probably try to buy it online. I would rip out all carpet, wipe down the walls, ceiling fans, anything and everything I could get my hands on. I would also buy an air purifier with a built in hepa filter for your sons bedroom. Remember that allergy problems can cause his immune system to be downwhich can cause him
to be more susceptible to other illnesses. It basically comes down to who do you love more, sad to say.



answers from Tyler on

As others have said, I would get him tested and see what the problem is. It might not be the cat at all. To me, if he is having the dry cough, that sounds more asthmatic than allergic. My kids both have asthma and our cat does not bother them.

Good luck!



answers from Dallas on

1. Get special stuff for this from the vet and use it frequently.
2. See an allergist and get him on asthma medicine if needed. I hate inhalers but Singulair (script) works well for me.
3. Have him tested for allergies by the allergist; the back scratch testing is not bad at all, even for a child. My son was freaked out about it but then it was not an issue. Assuming he tests positive to several things, you can put him on allergy shots, but this is a several-year commitment. It really helps, but not quickly.
4. If you have to get rid of the cats, try getting a non-allergenic dog or perhaps a hairless cat. Your family will no doubt be sad about getting rid of the cats (be sure to find them a good home), but you will bond with the new pet and your son will enjoy better health.


answers from Providence on

Does he use an inhaler? It sounds like he as asthma due to allergies. I would double check with his doctor and ask for an allergy test.

My step father is allergic to cats. Growing up we had 4 in our house! We bathed the cats in Dawn , and it seemed to help, as well as flea comb, and brush them everyday. An air purifier will help as well as vacumning every day. I know he also was on a steroid inhaler, and used a nasal wash.



answers from New York on

I'm a cat allergy sufferer myself. I cannot be near cats without having a reaction. I hate to say but you must get rid of the cats. You need to ask yourself, what is more important, an animal or your son's overall health. Allergies that are not treated can lead to asthma. You don't want that, do you?

Have you spoken to his doctor (pediatric allergist)? Get his opinion. I guarantee you he will say to find a new home for the cats. Sorry. I know it will be hard.


answers from Tampa on

I shave my cats down really low an wipe them down with a wet wrung out washcloth every 2-3 days. I have 13 cats and am moderately allergic to ALL furry things. Took 3-4 years before my allergies were rarely set off by MY cats, but I still get hives when I pet other animals. I'm an animal lover so I deal with it by alternating claritin and zyrtec.

P.S. If one of my children ended up allergic to cats - unless they went into anaphylatic shock - I would NOT get rid of the innocent and dependent creatures I promised to care for. I do not feel animals are disposable - and giving them to strangers from online or shelters... you have a 50/50 chance they will be killed/abused/euthanized.



answers from Colorado Springs on

Hi Emily,
Oh, that is so hard! First, I would get him tested. If it is found that he is allergic to cats, I would get rid of the cats. The various meds you are giving him or might give him in the future are very hard on his kidneys. It is not good for him long-term. There are consequences to pharmaceuticals to our bodies. They may help for a time, but they do break down our bodies. Even tylenol is bad for us. If it were my child, I would get rid of the cats instead of having him take meds. But, that's kind of how we live anyway. I don't do pharmaceuticals unless I have no other choice.



answers from Des Moines on

Have you tried bathing the cats once a week (just a warm water rinse will help)?



answers from Colorado Springs on

Talk with your vet. My daughter and her husband are going through something like that with their baby. There is some sort of medication that you give your cats (not your child) that makes them become less of an allergen, somehow. I'm told it takes a couple of weeks to kick in, but then it's effective. I have no idea what it's called, but your vet might know.



answers from Washington DC on

Has he been tested for allergies to find out if it's just the cats or if it's also something else?

You can ask the allergist about shots, too.

Some things you can also consider are taking up carpet, giving the cats baths sometimes, putting a purifier in his room and making it a cat-free zone, having him wash his face and hands and change his clothes after snuggling the cats.


answers from Biloxi on

My son is allergic to cats. It is officall- scratch test and all last year at age 14 (finally) last year. He looked at the allergist and said - "Um, well, we are not getting rid of the cats". We have had cats his entire life - these are (some of) our pets. He also has a history of asthma, that he has mostly outgrown. He takes Singulair every day, and augments with over the counter allergy medicines as he is allergic to every grass God created and then some. He does not want to start allergy shots yet because of the long term commitment - and the brevity of his allergy attacks.

Keep your house swept and vacuumed, keep the cats out of his bedroom, talk to your allergist about other RX options. We have been managing allergies to pets for years with no adverse results.

Hmmm, there is a cat sitting on my lap as I type this. LOL



answers from Dallas on

I have 4 cats and am allergic to 3 of them. I have found that the medium or long hair-ed ones don't bother me as much. However, since I am off the charts allergic to cats I do the following:

no carpet
no drapes (or ones that come down easy for weekly washing)
no fabric furniture (wood with washable cushions, or pleather)

and I bathe the cats once a month. You can also get baby wipes at Costco and "pet" the cats with these if you are too wimpy to bathe them, but a sliding glass door shower is the best! :-)

I have a 2700 sq ft house and it cost me $2000 to re-floor it. It improved the look of the house overall anyhow, and therefore was a good investment. One that I was oh so happy to do.

Other things, have him eat TONS of citrus, it improves allergies and I use 'Wish Garden' brand's "Kickass-Allergy" herbal mix sold at Sprouts. It works very, very well.



answers from Dallas on

Get your child tested to make sure it's definitely the cats he's allergic to . . . you may be surprised to find out it's something else. The allergy tests aren't great fun (skin prick tests, usually done on the back or arm, where a tiny amount of the allergen is pricked into the skin. The size of the welt that forms, if any, will identify which allergens your son is most reactive to). But they really zero in on the problem areas and then the doctor can treat it better because some meds work better for certain allergens. Chances are a prescription med might be necessary, or possibly allergy shots (which ultimately help your body become immune to the allergen, but it takes time). My oldest child has been through this, she did prick tests when she was in 2nd grade (and what a trooper she was!) and helped us find out that she is highly allergic to birch trees and we were able to customize her treatment.

In the meantime, bathing the cats and even shaving them are good ideas. If you've never done this before with your cats you may want to consider bringing them to a groomer. I think if I tried to bathe/shave my cat for the first time in her life she'd likely claw my eyeballs out! Good luck!



answers from New York on

Go talk to an allergist. My husband was severely allergic to cats, and takes shots. While we wouldn't bring a cat into our home, he can now be around them for extended periods without any issue.



answers from Phoenix on

do you bathe your cats? or use flea stuff???? my son had issues with that stuff and once we stopped using it alot of stuff went away



answers from Charleston on

I am allergic to cats too, and had several while growing up. I really had to learn to be super cautious after playing with them to change my clothes and wash my face and hands. I didn't cough as much as it sounds like your son does, but I would break out in hives if I got the cat dander on or near my face. Our cats were mainly outdoor cats that stayed in the garage at night, so there wasn't an issue of them being indoors. Good luck and I hope you can find a solution so you don't have to part with them.


answers from Minneapolis on

my pre-school owner, also is allergic and has a daughter that is very allergic, but they love their cat. They bathe the cat in a special soap they get from the vet, every week. Ask your vet what you can do for your kitty. Cats hate baths but if it saves giving them up, I think its worth the pain and anguish :) She has been doing it for her cat over 3 years and they are doing just fine with it. Though I caution this doesnt work for everyone.

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