Ask the Vet with Dr. Shelby Neely

QuestionI’ve had cats all my life—longhaired, shorthaired…you name it. And I’ve never had any trouble before. Until I brought Sammy home. I think I’m allergic to her, because I’m sneezing a lot and my eyes are always itchy. But I’m 54 years old. I would have thought I’d have known about any allergic reactions I might have by now. Is it possible I developed an allergy over time? What can I do about this? I’ve had some relief with over-the-counter allergy medicine, but it always comes back. Giving up Sammy is not an option. So what are my other options?

AnswerYes, it is possible to develop an allergy at any time in your life to something you haven’t previously been allergic to. It certainly sounds as if you could have an allergy to cats or to Sammy in particular. The best action would be to make an appointment with an allergist who can do testing and determine if that is, in fact, the problem. If you are allergic to cats, the allergist will give you advice, and if your allergy is serious enough, her or she can even prescribe allergy shots.

Other things you can do, meanwhile, include:

• Bathe Sammy once monthly
• Keep her out of your bedroom
• Dust and vacuum your home frequently
• Avoid touching your face after touching Sammy, because this can make the
reaction worse
• Purchase an air purifier unit for each room or a central unit for your home
• Continue with your over-the-counter allergy medication until you see the allergist, if it has
no adverse affects on you

About the Vet:

Dr. Neely has been the owner of a feline-only veterinary hospital in the Philadelphia area providing medical care, surgery, boarding, and grooming since 1991. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and has degrees in music and education also. Her website AskTheCatDoctor.com has more than 1000 pages of cat information, is read in over 130 countries, and is ranked in the top 1% of all sites on the web

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