Managing Cat Allergies: Exploring Immunotherapy Options

Cat allergies, like nearly any other allergy, are a nightmare. From a runny nose and itchy eyes to hives and rashes, the allergy symptoms you may experience can be more than just annoying. They’re uncomfortable, inconvenient, and overall a burden. While traditional treatments might help you manage your symptoms, they’re only a short-term fix. 

Luckily, there’s another option. Enter allergy immunotherapy. This treatment offers promising results for cat lovers, helping them find relief from their allergies and spend more time around their feline friends without being miserable due to their symptoms. 

Cat Allergies: The Basics

A cat allergy is similar to any other allergy, like a dog or pollen allergy. It’s simply a reaction in the body to a foreign substance, which, in this instance, is a cat. The cat allergen, while many people think it’s the fur, can actually be a number of things. 

The most common cat allergen is cat dander, which is the dead skin the animal sloughs off to make room for new skin cells. Saliva and fur can also trigger the allergy, but dander is the most common culprit. 

When you have a cat allergy, your immune system produces antibodies that identify the allergen as harmful, even though it’s harmless. But since your body strings caution tape all over the allergen when you’re exposed to it, a reaction occurs. This reaction happens when the antibodies communicate with specific cells, triggering the release of chemicals that cause the allergy symptoms. 

What is Allergy Immunotherapy?

Allergy immunotherapy (AIT) is a treatment that desensitizes the body to an allergen through repeated exposure. It works by using a small, incrementally increasing dose of the allergen to “train” the body to become less sensitive by reducing the production of the “blocking” antibody. 

The allergen is typically administered under the skin via an injection or under the tongue via a tablet or drops. 

Do Cat Allergy Shots Work?

Cat allergy shots are incredibly effective in reducing your body’s sensitivity to cats. These shots, among other types of immunotherapy, have been extensively studied by healthcare professionals and researchers over the course of nearly a century. 

In that time, hundreds of research trials, clinical trials, and studies have emerged, each evaluating a different facet of the treatment. For example, a few research and clinical trials examined the efficacy of repeated subcutaneous injections in achieving an allergen-specific tolerance that remained even beyond the treatment’s discontinuation. 

These trials are just a drop in the bucket compared to the host of resources out there. If you want to learn more about cat allergy shots or allergy immunotherapy in general, you’ll have no shortage of resources. 

What Types of Immunotherapy Are Available for Cat Allergies?

There are two primary types of allergy immunotherapy for cat allergies: sublingual and subcutaneous. Each option has its merits and is best suited to different needs. 

Sublingual Immunotherapy

Better known as allergy drops or tablets, sublingual immunotherapy for cat allergies is a great option for kids and needle-shy individuals. It involves administering a few drops or a tablet under the tongue, which delivers the dose of the allergen and gives it time to do its work. 

This option is great for people who don’t have the luxury of taking time off to visit the doctor’s office for frequent injections or kiddos who are nervous about needles. It’s as simple as dosing the allergen under the tongue, letting it sit for a few moments (if necessary), and swallowing!

Subcutaneous Immunotherapy

Better known as cat allergy shots, subcutaneous immunotherapy for cat allergies is administered under the skin via an injection. It’s the most common method for treating various types of allergies and is highly effective. 

However, it’s a less common pick for kiddos and other needle- or doctor-shy individuals, as it involves frequent injections and doctor visits. There’s a higher risk of adverse reactions with subcutaneous immunotherapy, so doses have to be administered under the watchful eye of a healthcare professional. You’ll also have to stay for monitoring after you get the dose to ensure you don’t have a reaction. 

Allergy Immunotherapy: A Promising Solution to Annoying Cat Allergies

If you’re a cat lover who has a cat allergy, allergy immunotherapy can be an excellent avenue to pursue. Whether you choose cat allergy shots or allergy drops, this treatment can make a huge difference in your immune system’s reactivity around cats. 

Talk to your doctor about which option might be right for you. They can offer personalized input based on your medical history and needs, helping you choose the option that takes you one step closer to hanging out with your feline friends. 

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