Health

'Cat allergy made me feel like an outcast'

Chinchilla kitten
Image caption The discovery raises hopes of treatment for cat allergy sufferers

Scientists may be a step closer to developing a preventative treatment for people who are allergic to cats.

Researchers from The University of Cambridge have been investigating how proteins found in the cat's skin can trigger an allergic reaction in some humans.

Their findings have been hailed as a "big step forward" by Allergy UK.

BBC News website readers who suffer from cat allergies have sent in their reaction to the findings. Here is a selection of their comments.

Clare, Birmingham

Image caption 'Allergies are horrendous things and can really have a profound effect on your life'

I've suffered with asthma and cat allergies my whole life. It was so heightened that I could usually tell if a person had a cat or not, simply by the smell and the taste of the allergens in my mouth!

It's all linked - hay fever, asthma and cat allergies.

I started suffering symptoms around a year or so ago when I could not stop scratching my eyes and blowing my nose all morning. Usually these symptoms would subside in the afternoon.

I was diagnosed with chronic rhinitis allergy to the following: Cats, pollen, perfume, aerosols and dust.

I now have to take two tablets, a nasal spray and my asthma medication every morning for the rest of my life.

People thought I was exaggerating and did not realise how debilitating this was. I used to get very upset.

After 25 years of discomfort and upset I am pleased to be on the drugs.

The side effects make me incredibly drowsy, but I can now enjoy my new pet cat, Spock, and the summer heat wave without fear of my throat closing up.

Allergies are horrendous things and can really have a profound effect on your life. I welcome and applaud Dr Bryant's findings.

Ian Milner, Brackley, Northamptonshire

Image caption Ian Milner's cats Boris and Tilly are hypoallergenic

I have a severe cat allergy which had prevented me from owning cats which is a shame as I love them.

However, I recently heard that there were hypoallergenic dogs so I did some research and discovered that there are several breeds of hypoallergenic cats.

So now I'm the happy owner of two Siberian kittens, Boris and Tilly.

Robert Wallace, Cheltenham

Image caption 'I am also allergic to horses'

I discovered that I could not live with a cat when I was given a kitten. I was 10-years-old, I am now 86.

My asthma-like symptoms were worsening daily until we found the kitten another home.

I have since discovered that I am also allergic to horses and, on visiting a circus, to elephants.

Fortunately, as a dog lover, dogs I can live with.

Amy McGregor, Bath

Having grown up with cats I was very surprised that when my last cat died I became allergic to them.

This manifests itself it an itchy throat, welts on my skin, sneezing and a blocked nose.

My eyes are the worst effected and become red and swollen.

I adopted a rescue cat on Tuesday and am now suffering these symptoms.

I am hoping that just like when I was growing up my body reaches a tolerance level and these symptoms disappear.

Kay Short, Moelfre

I have an allergy to cats, confirmed by doctors when I was young.

I own 21 cats and have managed to de-sensitise myself to all of mine.

I also breed cats and it takes me about three to four weeks of regular daily handling to overcome my allergy to the new kittens.

Other people's cats still effect me.

Samantha, Buckinghamshire

I was very allergic to our pet cats and to house dust mite as a child and even had asthma.

I was rushed to the emergency room for oxygen on a number of occasions.

My father arranged for the doctor to give me a two year course of allergen desensitizing injections (paid for by medical aid). The course involved weekly injections, then monthly injections and finished up with weekly injections.

Now I can actually cuddle a cat without much more than a slight sniffle or the odd sneeze.

This was in the 1980s. It's not a complete cure and it is a long course, but I do not need to take antihistamines at all anymore.

Considering that this technology exists, why can't the same thing be offered to children with serious, but non life threatening allergies? It makes for a far better quality of life, less emergency room visits and could be a drug free solution.

Douglas Fairbank, Bushey

Image caption 'I would be first in the queue for a trial of the medication when it becomes available.'

Having a cat allergy has made me feel like social outcast.

Even close friends do not understand. They think it is "only" a phobia and I could snap out of it.

When my daughter helped a friend who was flat hunting by temporarily housing her cat, I wasn't able to visit her for more than a few minutes.

My own reaction could frequently trigger a week long illness resembling a heavy cold and difficulty breathing. It is a constant curse.

I would be first in the queue for a trial of the medication when it becomes available.

Sally Gibbons, London

Image caption 'At 20 I developed asthma and one of the allergens was identified as cats'

I always lived with cats as a child.

At 20 I developed asthma and one of the allergens was identified as cats.

I continued to keep cats, and as long as I had them around me constantly I did not have a problem.

When my last cat died four years ago and we did not replace her the allergy took hold, although it only seems to apply to certain types of cat.

Similarly, my daughter was fine while she lived with us, but once she left home the cat allergy cut in and she now suffers quite noticeably.

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