It has been estimated on good authority that 4 in 10 senior citizens over the age of 65 in America own a cat; the majority of such pet owners happen to be women. Roughly 37% of cat owners are allergic to their pets, but still refuse to give them up.
They are willing to endure symptoms such as sneezing, wheezing, runny nose, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, and skin rash or hives before they will surrender old Fur Face.
Here are several reasons why cat allergen is especially bad for those who are hypersensitive to it. The primary offender in cats is a protein called Felis domesticus allergen 1, or better remembered in its shortened form Fel d 1. It is found in the saliva and skin of all cats. This allergen is continually shed as tiny airborne particles only one-tenth the size of a bit of dust.
Contrary to popular belief, cat hair it self is not allergenic. On the other hand, some Fel d 1 is transferred to the hair as the cat grooms it self. Any hair floating in the air can irritate the respiratory tract of persons afflicted with asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema. Also, other substances like pollen, dust, and mites that can cling to cat hair might contribute to a person’s allergy.
A major obstacle to helping cat owners who are allergic to Fel d 1 is that the particles are so tiny that they hang suspended in the air, where they are easily inhaled. Another is that they are sticky and adhere to all porous surfaces, notably to rugs, upholstery, draperies, and bedding but also to walls and ceilings, particularly those that are rough and textured.
Another thing many cat lovers may not realize is that Fel d 1 is feather light and can linger in a house or an apartment for up to half a year after the pet itself has been removed. A final factor is that all cats produce this allergen, but in varying amounts. The situation becomes even more complicated by the fact that every allergic person reacts differently to Fel d 1.