Key Allergens

There are 8 allergens associated with cats, this includes their hair, dander (which is flakes of dry skin), urine and saliva.

Fel d 1 is the most common allergen people react to. Most animal allergies are caused by lipocalin proteins, but cat allergy is different in that the main allergenic protein is a uteroglobin. Uteroglobin proteins are anti-inflammatory proteins produced by mucosal cells in most of the organs. This means Fel d 1 is found in cat saliva, urine and dander and in higher concentrations in male unneutered cats. As such there is no such thing as a hypo-allergenic cat (not yet), as hair is not the main culprit in this allergy.

Fel d 2 is a serum albumin protein, people who are allergic to this protein are more likely to be allergic to other mammals and very rarely can become allergic to eating mammalian meats such as beef, chicken and pork, which also contain these proteins.

Fel d 4 and Fel d 7 are lipocalin proteins, in other animal dander allergies this is the protein that most individuals react to. These proteins transport molecules like lipids and steroids around the body.

Associated Syndromes

There is some evidence of cross reactivity between eating pork and allergic reaction to cat skin. This is known as Pork-Cat Syndrome and is due to Fel d 2, the serum albumin protein.

Allergy to cat dander is strongly strongly associated with allergic rhinitis as well as asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis and atopic dermatitis.

Cross Reactivity

A cat allergy can be strongly linked to other animal allergies due to the lipocalin proteins. There is evidence of cross reactivity due to this protein with cockroaches, cows, dogs, guinea pigs, horses, hamsters, mice, rabbits and rats.

In extreme cases there may be some cross reactivity between other foods containing serum albumin proteins. These foods include other meats such as beef, pork and chicken.

These allergen lists are not completely exhaustive, the most up to date information is on the Cross Reactivity Tool.



Healthline - Cat Allergies

Allergy UK - Pet Allergy

Articles and Journals

Relationship between indoor inhalant allergen concentrations, serum IgE, and allergic diseases: A cross-sectional study from the NHANES 2005–2006 program, 2024

First-in-class biologic to treat human allergy to cats, 2024

Why is Pet (Cat/Dog) Allergen Immunotherapy (AIT) Such a Controversial Topic? Current Perspectives and Future Directions , 2024

The holo beta-lactoglobulin lozenge reduces symptoms in cat allergy—Evaluation in an allergen exposure chamber and by titrated nasal allergen challenge, 2023

An update on the prevalence and diagnosis of cat and dog allergy – Emphasizing the role of molecular allergy diagnostics, 2023

Could a bite trigger the onset of cat allergy? 2022

Human allergy to cats: A review of the impact on cat ownership and relinquishment, 2021

Cross-reactivity of Can f 1 with Syrian hamster and Fel d 1 in children, 2021

Keep the cat, change the care pathway: A transformational approach to managing Fel d 1, the major cat allergen, 2019

Initial description of pork-cat syndrome in the United States, 2013

Intralymphatic immunotherapy for cat allergy induces tolerance after only 3 injections, 2012

Two newly identified cat allergens: the von Ebner gland protein Fel d 7 and the latherin-like protein Fel d 8, 2011

The Major Cat Allergen, Fel d 1, in Diagnosis and Therapy, 2010

Cat-pork syndrome: a case report with a thee years follow-up, 2006

Fel d 4, a cat lipocalin allergen, 2004

Molecular cloning, expression and modelling of cat allergen, cystatin (Fel d 3), a cysteine protease inhibitor, 2001

Does early exposure to cat or dog protect against later allergy development? 1999

Allergic cross-reactions between cat and pig serum albumin. Study at the protein and DNA levels, 1997

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