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I’d like a cat but I’m allergic. What is my best approach to finding out?

By: Dr. Jon Rappaport

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Our question this week was:

Dr. Jon – I love cats but I'm allergic. I recently got my own apartment and REALLY want a cat. But I don't want to get a cat then have to take it to a shelter because I can't keep it. Do you have any advice?

Sarah Ford


Answer

Hi – thanks for your email Sarah. And thank you for being so responsible to ask this question before just getting a cat and then sending it to a shelter because you can't keep it. This is what I recommend:

Talk to your doctor about how allergic you are and if it is safe to "try" to figure out if a new cat is right for you. Discuss if you should have an allergy test. If you have asthma, this is especially important as I don't want you to suffer from an asthma attack.

If he says okay...then...

If you have some friends with cats – spend some time with them. Hang out at their place, watch some movies, and play with the cat. Maybe even do some cat sitting. Alternatively, ask if you can time share a cat. Ask your friend if their cat can hang with you for an evening or weekend. Start with short periods of time and build up.

Consider contacting a rescue group and fostering a cat. Make sure they know it is a test and if you have problems – they may need to rehome the foster cat.

If you adopt – discuss your allergy with the shelter or breeder in advance. Make and agreement (and get it in writing) that you can return the cat if you have a real allergy.

You may find that your allergies are better (or worse) than what you thought. From there, you can decide if you want a cat or not. Some people take antihistamines to combat allergies or undergo allergy testing and shots.

Best of luck!


Dr. Jon




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