Sunday, November 28, 2004

Allergy Theories

Those of you who've been following my cat adoption process know that I always had cat allergies, but after taking Bioallers dander formula for a couple of months and visiting several people with cats and several shelters, I felt fine and so I adopted my boys.

The first 10 days we had the boys, my fiancee and I were both 100% fine no matter what we did with the boys. We'd let them climb us. We'd pet them then touch our faces. No problem.
Suddenly, a few days ago, we started to get big sneezing fits. We have since started a regiment of vacuuming, grooming the boys, spraying them with dander spray, mopping floors, but nothing works very well. Oh and we have a HEPA air purifier too.

We have been trying to figure out what changed in the environment on day 10 and we have a list of a few things. We are thinking that it's not the boys' dander that is causing our allergy but something else in the air that may be getting into their fur. Here's what changed on or around day 10. Any thoughts?
  • Boys started taking Cefa drops antibiotic daily. Could that change anything?
  • We opened up an air vent in our kitchen which let out a ton of dust. We just closed it yesterday, but maybe the dust is still on the boys' coats?
  • We went from using a mixture of Yesterday's News (pellets) and Swheat Scoop (wheat-based) to 100% Swheat Scoop. The Swheat Scoop now gets tracked all over the place. Could we be allergic to it?

Any theories?


Anonymous said...


My boys will be 7 months on December 1. They weren't my first cat, by any means, but they were the first kittens I've had in 20 years. So... I went through much the same process (down to the URI their first week, though theirs was indeed mild). I've always been mildly allergic to cats. This time around I implemented some new rules. The boys sleep in their own room (a kitten safe haven/play room) and not in my bed--they aren't allowed in the bedroom. I've got an air cleaner in their room and in mine. I comb/brush them almost daily (they have long hair). I take Allegra and Flonase (I'm allergic to dust, dust mites, etc.)--mild, no side-effects. I keep winter air humidified. This might be a factor in your sudden situation change.

I wish you could see the boys right now, in a heap on my office couch. Your boys would definitely recognize the pose, sort of all intertwined--like a two-headed kitten.

Oh, and I use (after experimentation) World's Best Extra Strength Cat Litter (buy at PetFoodDirect for best price), with Kittymaid's Stop Trax ( The boys don't mind (too much) walking on the squares, and it does catch 90% of the litter. The rest I just vacuum up with my little cordless (daily).



Avram said...

That's really great advice. I will look into all of these things. It's really a matter of experimentation with a wide variety of things.

Anonymous said...

Have you ruled out the idea that it could be a cold? Does your fiancee have a history of allergies also? If not then it seems unlikely that the problem is allergy related. It could be the dust or it could be the litter. I would try going back to the other litter for awhile and see if that makes a difference.

I saw you mentioned in another post that you are thinking about seeing an allergist to get tested. That would be a good thing. You may have other allergies that are too low level to notice (like dust) but may contribute to the overall problem. I have allergies to different things among them cats and at least in my case they tend be cumulative.

I wouldn't worry too much about trying to see a particular allergist. For someone with simple allergies (i.e. nothing life threatening) allergy testing and treatment are fairly straight forward. The testing will be done by a technician most likely anyway and that is the important part. They will insert small amounts of allergens under the skin of your arm and see if you react to it. If you are allergic a red bump will form at the site. They will do several allergens at once and number each site. This will tell them what you are allergic to and how severe it is.

The doctor may give you some handouts about preventative measures but you seem pretty well versed in that already anyway. They will most likely give you a scrip for Flonase as that is pretty much the standard treatment. There are other things that work better for some people. I know you want to avoid taking any medication if possible though.

As for finding an allergist that will condone having cats you can pretty much forget it. I'm not saying there isn't one somewhere but let's just say it's unlikely :)

By the by, have you tried bathing the kittens yet? That should be an adventure :) Maybe something you might want to put off until you know whether it is absolutely necessary or not.

Anonymous said...

Oops, forgot to sign my name to that last post about allergy testing.

Ellen aka Calamintha

Wendy said...

Avram, I think that the dust could have been a real irritant so that it is helping set off your cat allergy as well. Give it a few days to settle down. I've been noticing this a lot - if I just drink some wine, I'm fine, but if I drink wine AND get in some dust, I have a clogged nose for hours.

And, yes, it is so hard to leave the playful, warm kitties and go off to the big impersonal office.

Yesterday our cat found some heretofore unknown hideaway in our house for 4 hours. We just couldn't find her, obviously she was sleeping someplace but not her usual places at all. Weird! We've only had her 5 years or so, you think you'd know their tricks by then!

Anonymous said...

My allergies are almost nonexistent now that I have cats. The first couple of months were a challenge but passed quickly. I've not had to take any meds or preps since my first cat (Emma) was about two months old. Hang in there, Kid, it gets better quickly and having such wonderful pets (though they seem more like children) considerably lessens the discomfort.

socidoc said...

Hi there again,
You know, reading the above postings about allergies makes me think... I don't have allergies, but I do appreciate your comments about wanting to avoid meds if possible. Have you tried acupuncture? I don't know if it is effective with allergies... but it sure is effective with my joint pains! And it's certainly non-invasive and non-toxic! Thankfully my insurance also pays for it. Anybody have any comments on this suggestion? Avram, thanks so much for posting this blog. It's fascinating!

Anonymous said...

Allergies are not fun by any means!!
I have COPD I'm don't have any allergies to my 2 cats.
I fine that it comes down to the litter that a person uses.. I have used one of the name brand litters( Tidy Cat) I started to whizz ect.. really bad I thought I had to get rid of my 2 cats here.. Thankfully my Doctor who is a cat lover too.. Told me to change litters ASAP
with a little expermenting I came up with a mixture that works for me & my 2 cats which btw are American short hair & a handsome Orange & white Tabby.
They both keep me lots of company!! :)

Anonymous said...

I noticed you said you had an exterminator service your home. Many people react poorly to the chemicals used, could be cuz they are using poisons intended to kill pests. Though many never make the connection..