Patients allergic to cats, are allergic to the cat’s saliva. However, typical allergic symptoms are not as a result of coming in direct contact with the cat’s saliva. Instead, when the cat grooms itself by licking its fur and skin it deposits its saliva. They saliva dries, leaving behind the protein antigen that are the source of allergy to cats. These allergens (cat saliva antigens) are very light-weight and are easily aerosolized. Once air-borne the antigen can spread to clothes, furniture, carpeting, or any other household item.
Once cat allergy is confirmed, the best way to decrease allergy symptoms is to remove the cat from the home. However, relatively high concentrations of cat antigen can remain, even months after the cat is removed. Thereby it is important to clean or replace the carpeting, furniture, and all other material that may harbor the cat saliva antigen.
Thankfully, there are less dramatic means to improve or eliminate cat allergy symptoms as well, including the use of medications and allergy immunization. HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters can catch particulates as small as one micron, and are effective in com