Putzing in the garden is nothing less than therapy. It's even good exercise,
if you exert enough effort. But the sneezing and stuffy-headed feeling that
lingers afterwards -- that's the downside of gardening with allergies.
Eleven million people are allergic to cats alone. About 15% of us are
allergic to animals.
People who love pets and don't have allergies should not become complacent. "You can
develop an allergy at any time," Derek K. Johnson, MD, director of allergy
and immunology at Temple University Children's Medical Center, tells WebMD.
"That's why it's important to know what causes pet allergies. It's the
flakes from the animal's skin, called dander, not the fur. So even if it's a
bald cat, you can be allergic."
The animal's saliva on the fur from cleaning itself or on your skin from
slobbery kisses can also incite a reaction. Pet urine can also be a
"To be exact," Pamela A. Georgeson, MD, a board-certified allergist
at the Kenwood Allergy and Asthma Center in Chesterfield Township, Mich., tells
WebMD, "a lot of people are allergic to a cat protein called FEL-d1 found
in dander and saliva."
Allergies are more commonly caused by cats, says Dean C. Mitchell, MD, a
board-certified allergist in practice in New York.
"I have had people come to me from all walks of life," he continues.
"Some people can't even go to Thanksgiving at a house with a pet. I see
veterinarians with allergies, pet groomers."