Zoltan P. Rona, MD, MSc
According to the Asthma Society of Canada, half of the more than three million Canadians with asthma have symptoms triggered by a pet cat. However, before you give kitty away, try alternatives that may help you keep your cat and still stay symptom free..
According to the Asthma Society of Canada, half of the more than three million Canadians with asthma have symptoms triggered by a pet cat. However, before you give kitty away, try alternatives that may help you keep your cat and still stay symptom free.
Symptoms can range from a runny nose to clogged sinuses, eczema, and hives. Cat allergies are caused by proteins (antigens) in saliva, urine, and dander, the dead skin flakes that cats shed continuously. These find their way into clothing, furniture, and carpeting.
Various alternatives will reduce symptoms for those with mild to moderate cat allergies. They may also help those who suffer severe asthma attacks when exposed to cats by reducing their dependence on prescription steroids and antihistamines. These people may not, however, be able to stop their medications altogether.
Avoid Highly Allergenic Foods
Eliminate from the diet refined sugar and foods that contain chemical additives because they impair the immune system. Allergic symptoms are often diminished by eating more whole foods, such as garlic, onions, horseradish, citrus fruits, carrots, greens, and cayenne or other hot peppers as tolerated, provided you are not allergic to them. The diagnosis and elimination of unsuspected food allergies (usually to dairy and wheat products, yeast, corn, chocolate, soy, and eggs) can also have a significant beneficial effect in some cat allergy sufferers.
Stabilize Mast Cells
Mast cells manufacture and release histamine, the chemical that triggers abnormal immune responses leading to inflammation, asthma, eczema, rhinitis, and other allergic conditions. Stabilizing mast cell membranes may help reduce the impact of histamine- mediated reactions. Quercetin has been shown to do this and is effective at reducing practically all cat allergy symptoms. Take one or two 500 mg capsules three times daily.
Try Nutritional Supplements and Herbal Remedies
Other nutritional supplements available from your local health food store may also help (see chart). Herbal remedies are effective too. To reduce or prevent mucous and nasal congestion, try herbs with an anti-allergy effect, particularly stinging nettles. Take one or two capsules (500 mg) every four hours as needed. Licorice root, lobelia, eyebright, cayenne, horehound, fenugreek, and mullein also have an anti-allergy effect.
Consider the alternatives before giving away your pet. Cats not only make good companions, they also have powerful natural stress-reducing capabilities. In a 1999 study of New York stockbrokers, stroking a cat daily was shown to reduce by half the increase in blood pressure that came with stress.
Nutritional Supplements that Help
Multivitamin with minerals: Ensures immune system is not compromised by deficiencies in key nutrients such as selenium, zinc, and vitamin A
One capsule daily, as directed on product label
Curcumin: As effective as prescription cortisone but without the side effects (heart disease, increased blood pressure)
500 mg one to three times daily
Pycnogenol (pine bark extract) or grape seed extract: Useful natural antihistamines
300 mg daily
Bromelain: Has anti-inflammatory effects and improves the absorption of quercetin
500 mg three times daily
Rutin, hesperidin, and catechin: Bioflavonoids with anti-inflammatory effects
1,000 to 3,000 mg daily as needed
Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5): Helps form adrenal hormones that deflect stress and allergic reactions
500 mg three or more times daily
Vitamin C: A natural antihistamine
Take to lower histamine levels (6,000 mg or more in divided doses throughout the day)
L- Histidine: An essential amino acid that can prevent excessive histamine production
One or two 500-mg capsules three times daily
Vitamin E: For each additional milligram of vitamin E consumed there is an allergy antibody lowering effect of over 5 percent
400 to 3,200 IU daily
Common Sense Measures