I wuv you kitty *sniff sniff*
September 21, 2015 5:22 PM   Subscribe

We have adopted two kittens, yay. I've had the sniffles almost the whole time we've had them. Halp.

Our household has just acquired two new kitties (obligatory picture). Terrific! Life is great. Except: I've had an on-again, off-again runny nose since they've been here.

I am not allergic to cats! And while I have mild allergies I've had nothing like this in the past.

So - help me out - this has to be kitten-related, right?
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome to Pets & Animals (28 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
So adorable!

Are you sure you're not allergic to cats? Did you have no reaction at all when you were adopting them from the shelter/breeder?

I am a fairly new cat owner who went into the process knowing that I was mildly allergic to cats, but had been fine visiting friends who had cats. I was very sniffly in the shelter and still sniffly for a few weeks after adoption--and recently had another couple-week random flareup of apparent allergy symptoms--but it's worth it. The on/off runny nose is my only symptom.

Maybe others will have better explanations though, if you're sure about the non-allergy.
posted by serelliya at 5:27 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Very cute.

Run your hand lightly through their fur in the opposite direction to the direction you would normally go in. Is there discernible dander?
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:29 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ok this is why I don't think I'm allergic to cats: 1) I would know by now, I've had friends with cats and relatives with cats, although I did not grow up with cats. I haven't had an allergic reaction to cats ever before. 2) I am a volunteer at a local humane society, and my work involves visiting cats that are up for adoption and spending time with them (petting, playing, etc.). I don't get the sniffles when I do this volunteer work.

Re: dander. My husband and I have just done what you recommend, turbid dahlia. No discernible dander. (thanks for the 'cute' comments - we are totes in love with them!)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 5:32 PM on September 21, 2015

Best answer: You could be allergic to something that comes with the kitties, eg dust from the kitty litter. Or it could be coincidence and something flowering/spore-info started at the same time.

My vote: try an OTC antihistamine (preferably one you know works for you personally in general) for a week and see if it helps.

That wouldn't tell you it's the cats, but it would then be worth trying to reduce your exposure (cats don't get to sleep with you or on your bed, wash your hands after petting, no snorfling kitties). And I would see if you can try a different litter, too. Might be best to try these one at a time so you know what the problem is though- you wouldn't want to stop snorfling kitties if you didn't have to!

And even if it is the kitties themselves, you might find that your allergies to them change over time.
posted by nat at 5:36 PM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Two hypothesis:

1. More dust and dander kicking up in the air is aggravating sinuses. Solution: Gross Neti Pot whatever is aggravating your sinuses don't fester.

2. Mild cat allergy. I finally got my full panel of allergies done after moving to a city that drove my allergies crazy. I grew up with cats in my house since I was five without issues, yet my blood test showed a mild cat allergy. My doctor was not surprised. Your body can handle a certain amount of allergens. But being exposed to everything else all the time weakened my immune system to a point that even cats were triggering an allergic response.

Right now I'm on Flonase and Fexofenadine (Allegra) with pretty decent results.
posted by politikitty at 5:37 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've been watching these little furballs' progress on facebook and they are indeed super cute little things. Sorry to hear you're having problems.

It is totally possible to be allergic to only some cats, or allergic only sometimes to cats, or allergic to things of and related to those cats, and to be allergic to them seemingly out of nowhere.

Me? A proper grid allergen test from an allergist showed me that I am allergic to cats and dogs (and many other things, as well). In practice, I have only been allergic to some cats. In practice, I have only been allergic to some dogs. In practice, I am more allergic to dog saliva than to dog dander. But my body and its histamines have the capacity to be allergic to all of them.

My brother loves cats and interacted with all cats he saw all the time as a kid. No issues. Then one day he was babysitting for a family he had sat for dozens of times before (family had a cat) and all of a sudden swelled up so bad he couldn't open his eyes. Ever since then he has either been very slightly allergic to cats or extremely allergic to cats, depending on the cat.

Allergies can be funny like that.

It's definitely worth going to an allergist to get yourself a full grid test done, just to know, and so the allergist can instruct you as to which allergy drugs will work best for your kinds of allergies, should they ever worsen in the future.
posted by phunniemee at 5:41 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ohhhhhh, they are so, so adorable! I *love* tabbies and itty bitty snuggly snoozy tabbies are the best!

Could be lots of reasons for runny nose. Correlation & causation and all that. I like the suggestion to try an antihistamine, see how you go and look at seeing an allergist. Or maybe you have a lingering cold that can't really make up it's mind to be full on cold. No kitties as cute as that could make you sick I will be in denial for you.
posted by kitten magic at 5:47 PM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm not allergic to dogs, but at certain times of the year my dogs fur sets me off. In spring when they are bringing in pollen, & in fall with mould as they like digging in the fallen leaves. Have you tried washing the kitties? Also this time of year my allergies go nuts in general and as you get older symptoms of allergies can show up for things that never seemed to bother you before.
posted by wwax at 5:52 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Kittens are generally less likely to cause allergic reactions than adult cats. Have you bathed them, or at least wiped them down with a wet washcloth, to ensure that they don't have another allergen in their fur?
posted by metasarah at 5:53 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I see you live on the opposite coast from me, but I was about to say that at this time of year I get allergy flare-ups from either something blooming or something dying. (I have one now.) Never been identified for me but I just take pills for a while and it's OK. You may well be reacting to something else and it's just synced up with getting your kittens.
posted by dlugoczaj at 5:59 PM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

well hellooooooo there!

I second the bet that it's something they brought with them. Try a bath (them, not you) ... and don't forget the blow-dry at the end because that will make them forgive you for the bath part.
posted by Dashy at 6:03 PM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

omg they are so fluffy and cute and I want to pet their tummies.

Have you bathed them since you acquired them and do you know if they were treated with anything.
I remember in the past having bad reactions to flea treatments but I assume that they use those drops now instead of what they had when I was a kid. I have mild cat allergies that don't bother me too much as long as I am regularly exposed to cats.
posted by oneear at 6:09 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Babies! Precious babies. I say wipe them both down with a wet paper towel just in case, and then get some Nasacort for the allergy symptoms. I'm not allergic to cats, but I am allergic to the dust and mold spores they can carry around in their lovely fluff so I spend a lot of time in the same state as you because hello, cats are totally worth whatever pain comes with having them.
posted by Hermione Granger at 6:10 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: ps please tell me you have done what I really want to do which is smooch both of their fluffy tummies this is very important and for science
posted by Hermione Granger at 6:11 PM on September 21, 2015 [12 favorites]

You do not say how long you have had kittens and sniffles.
posted by feral_goldfish at 6:38 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Changing the litter gives me an allergy attack. Because I have dust allergies not cat allergies. I take Zyrtec.
posted by zutalors! at 6:40 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I had a nasty cough for months that sounded like I smoked a carton a day for years until I figured out that the perfume in the cat litter was clinging to my cat's fur. Try an unscented litter and see if that makes any difference.
posted by stray thoughts at 6:45 PM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Strictly anecdata here, but fuzzy, wirey kitten fur bothers me, and sleek adult cat fur does not. It has been that way with every kitten I've had.

They are adorable!
posted by kimberussell at 6:53 PM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Have you ever had hay fever or other seasonal allergies? I'm thinking it's just possible your getting the kittens has coincided with a late summer allergy season.
posted by zadcat at 7:05 PM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

It is possible to develop a new allergy at any time. I'd go to an allergist and explain your problem and get tested for cat allergy, indoor allergies (like dust, mold, etc.) and seasonal allergies. If it turns out you are suddenly allergic to cats, the allergist might be able to help you come up with a treatment / management plan to help you keep your cute little kitties anyway, with fewer sniffles.
posted by BlueJae at 7:27 PM on September 21, 2015

Best answer: 2nding unscented kitty litter. Also, the dust from litter can be considerable. I like "World's Best" (it's not clay, which is also great) but make sure you get the _unscented_ kind. OTOH, if you are using corn/newsprint/other plant-based litter, maybe you're allergic to that.

Also - if you want to try something less intense, you could do what I do to manage kitty dander: wet a washcloth with warm water, then use it to pet the kitty all over, going in normal petting direction first, then back and forth.

There are also pet allergy wipes you can get with some kind of special cleaner on them. I liked the warm washcloth because it was simple and worked fine for my (mild) allergies.

Finally, if you don't own a HEPA air filter, they are really nice to have, especially if you have a friend or relative with allergies who might come visit.
posted by amtho at 7:31 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I tended to have a mild sensitivity to new cats for a couple weeks after adopting them, which seems to pass (though I have a high baseline for nose irritation). I assume that once the cats are on the diet plan of the house for a bit they generally get sorted out.
posted by wotsac at 9:18 PM on September 21, 2015

I've had cats for years including a cat who sleeps on my face and it wasn't until I adopted my most recent addition that i showed ANY signs of allergy. Try taking zyrtec for a week or two and see what happens.
posted by janey47 at 9:19 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hi neighbor! Your kittens are so cute and sweet and stripey! I would second the advice on keeping them out of your bedroom and making sure your sheets and pillowcases are pristinely clean. I buy extra pillowcases so I always have a clean one even if I don't change the sheets that day - bonus side effect, it's so much better for your skin to have your face touch a clean surface.

The Neti pot (or NeilMed rinse) is also a great idea.

Also, get a HEPA air purifier, one for your bedroom and one for the main area. If you have carpets, get them professionally cleaned. Our lovely town is a hotbed of pollen allergies and I think if you cut down on all the external pollutants, then you won't sniff so much around the kittens.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 5:46 AM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

FWIW, I get horribly sniffly for about 1-2 weeks every time I go visit my parents (who have two cats), despite the fact that I lived with those cats for years with no problems. It usually settles down after a couple weeks. FYI, I'm allergic to pretty much everything on this planet, but after a few weeks exposure I'm fine with the cats, just need that time to get used to them. So I usually take some claritin for a couple weeks until I'm used to them.
posted by Shibui at 8:07 AM on September 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Relevant story from my current experiences: I am allergic to cats, get immunotherapy which more or less completely suppresses symptoms, and I lived with two cats for a year recently. Those cats moved out with their owner; I got lonely and adopted a friend's spare kitten. About 10 days into kitty-ownership, I've started getting some allergic symptoms. I am fairly convinced, however, that this is September pollens, particularly ragweed, and currently believe I and this adorable fluffball can live together as soon as the seasonal allergies die down (my allergist thinks this is reasonably likely, too).

So, yeah, there might be other factors, particularly seasonal ones, and pure coincidence. Or perhaps you (and I also?) have a bad reaction to this one cat. But don't leap to conclusions.
posted by jackbishop at 8:22 AM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I've had the kittens 4 weeks now; I don't remember when the sniffles began but I believe it was shortly after they arrived, like within a week.

Thanks all for the ideas and advice (and compliments). Kitties and I are grateful. I plan to try a few of the suggestions here, keeping in mind that, as some suggest, it could always be coincidence and my sniffles have nothing to do with Jacqueline and Jake.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:24 AM on September 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Further update: I am now 99% certain that I am, in fact, allergic to cat fur. I did not realize this when I did volunteer work with cats because I did not stick my face directly into their fur (like I do with my own kitties). I guess I was wrong about assuming I wasn't allergic.

Thanks everyone. <3
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 11:17 AM on November 14, 2015

« Older What are some expressions in French for nose...   |   Removed above ground pool; what to do about the... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.