Should you want to purchase a cat but are not sure whether you will face any allergy problems in the future, it is a great idea to test yourself for the cat allergies first. Finding out what you are allergic to is an important step in order to avoid possible forthcoming complications.

Even if you already know you suffer from cat allergies, it is still recommended to test yourself for allergies to find out how much you are allergic to them as allergy reactions vary. Some reactions can be even severe and threaten life. Thus the aim of this article is to provide you enough information how you can get yourself tested before purchasing a cat and therefore avert eventual health issues.

Should I get a hypoallergenic cat? How to find out if I will have any troubles?

There exist several ways how you can test yourself whether buying cat is a good idea for you. Why should you care? As said before, some allergies can threaten your life. If you are intentionally and continuously exposing yourself to known allergens, you may devastate your health and even get asthma.

We are definitely not trying to scare you here. We just want to make sure you avoid a rash decision that could impact you negatively. For completeness we provide you with the following list of common allergic reactions:

Mild Allergic Reactions

  • Itching
  • Runny Nose
  • Sneezing
  • Rashes
  • Watery, Red Eyes
  • Hives

Severe Allergic Reactions

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Abnormal Breathing Sounds
  • Anxiety
  • Chest Discomfort or Tightness
  • Cough
  • Breathing and Swallowing Difficulty
  • Dizziness
  • Anaphylaxis

Now when you already know why it is important to beware of allergies, you surely wonder what are the options of cat allergy testing.

1) Test your allergies with a doctor first

If you have any doubts whether you would be allergic to cats or not, it is wise to get yourself tested for allergies with a doctor first. You should not rush with adopting a cat without working with an allergy specialist and/or your doctor if there are any suspicions you could suffer from cat allergies. 

How is the allergy testing done?

To give you some basic overview how is the allergy testing done, we have prepared the following description of the allergy testing process. Basically, the allergy testing is relatively simple and fast method. First, you get tested for possible allergens. Second, you get the results. And third, the doctor sets the treatment in cooperation with you.

Essentially allergy testing can be done in two ways – as skin tests or as blood tests.

Skin Tests

This type of testing is the most common and is relatively painless. There are two types of skin tests – first type and second type. During the first type of skin test, a drop of a suspected allergen is pricked or scratched on the surface of the skin. The test is performed on the back or forearm. Many suspected allergens are tested at the same time. If you are allergic to one of the tests, you will have redness and swelling at the test spot.

Sometimes doctor also recommends the second type for testing. It is very similar to the previous one with a difference that doctor uses an injection to inject a small amount of suspected allergen straight into the skin of the arm as in the first type. This is done especially when a substance does not cause a reaction in the skin prick test but is still suspected as an allergen for tested person.

Blood Tests

By blood tests, the doctor gets some of your blood and the testing is being done on it. This method is used e.g. when a patient takes a medicine which could interfere with skin testing when the patient suffers from severe skin condition such as eczema or for babies and very young children.

How long does it take to get results?

Skin testing is a fast method. It usually takes only 20 minutes for positive reactions to appear. Sometimes redness and swelling can occur several hours after skin testing.

On the other hand, the blood tests can take several days as this test involves drawing blood, so results are not available as rapidly as with skin tests. The blood samples need to be sent to a lab for testing.

2) Visit Catteries

The second possibility how you can test your allergies without medical testing is to visit some catteries. A cattery is place where cats are commercially housed. Many catteries allow people to visit their place and spend few moments with cats. That way you can hang around with them for a while, play around with them and see how does it go. If no allergies seem to occur, you may be happily thinking about purchasing one.

The goal of such visit is an authentic allergy test that gives visitors a clear indication of their response to cats and also to the kitten they wish to purchase. But do not rush. We again want you to note that it can take some time before any of the allergic symptoms occur. Therefore we recommend you to undertake more visits in a shorter period of time so you can proper observe symptoms and do the proper testing. Some catteries may even allow you to borrow a cat to bring it home. Get informed by the cattery of your choice to see all the possibilities.

How to Proper Test Yourself

Prior to a visit, review the severity of the allergic response to cats. If you already use some medications, do not forget to take them with you just in case you’d need them. When possible, consider not taking antihistamines before the cattery visit as it will mask the severity of reactions.

We recommend you to spend at least an hour or two with the cats. The majority of Fel d1 reactions are shown within 15 minutes of exposure. Rest of the reactions needs longer exposure to appear. If applicable, you should get in touch with the cat in cleanest room possible else other factors can distort the testing results. The room should be aired out prior to visit and upholstered furniture collecting large amounts of allergens should be covered or avoided by visitors.

Do not spend the time with one cat only, especially with a kitty. Kittens do not have the same levels of allergens as are present in adult cats. For that reason, they are a poor indicator of allergic response.

Catteries In Nutshell

Catteries are a great opportunity and pleasant way how to check for potential cat allergy problems. It is primarily good because you can check them with potential cat breed you would like to purchase. Therefore we recommend you working with catteries should there be any conjectures you’d suffer from cat allergies.

Cat Allergy Testing Summary

We have shown you two ways that can help you decide whether buying cat is a good idea in your case. We suggest you to undertake both testing methods to have enough information for your future decision.

But don’t worry. Even if tests show you are allergic to cats there are still many options how you can mitigate the allergy effects and have a cat. The first option may be taking pills such as Zyrtec or Claritine, which temporarily relieves many allergic symptoms due to hay fever or other upper respiratory allergies. This includes a runny nose, sneezing and/or itchy, watery eyes. One of the other possibilities is allergy shots. They are not suitable for everyone but it’s definitely worth talking to your doctor about them. Allergy shots help your body get used to allergens, the things that trigger an allergic reaction. They aren’t a cure, but in time, your symptoms will get better and you may not have symptoms as often.