Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Get First Cat as Adult, Double Allergy Risk

Cat Allergy Risk Lower in Adults Who Had Cats as Kids
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 29, 2011 -- Adults who get their first cat double their risk of cat allergy -- especially if the cat is allowed in the bedroom.

But adults who had cats as kids are less likely to become allergic to their new feline pets, a large European study finds.

An adult's risk of developing a new cat allergy over a nine-year period "was nearly doubled in those acquiring a cat," report Mario Olivieri, MD, of the University of Verona, Italy, and colleagues. "Interestingly, this effect was confined to those allowing a cat in the bedroom."

Olivieri and colleagues collected data on cat ownership during a multicenter study of asthma. They collected cat ownership data and blood tests for various allergies in people aged 20 to 44 years who were not allergic to cats. The 6,292 study participants were tested again nine years later.

Over that time, more than 10% of the study participants got a pet cat. Nearly 4% of them became allergic to cats. Risk of cat allergy was three to four times higher among those who already were allergic to things besides cats.

Getting a new cat raised cat allergy risk by 85%. However, none of those who kept the cat out of the bedroom developed cat allergy.

People who had a cat during childhood had a lower risk of developing cat allergy when they got a new cat as adults. Other researchers have reported the same finding.

"The effect of exposure to high doses of cat allergens seemed to be different at different ages," Olivieri and colleagues note.

Although getting a cat for the kids may well protect them against becoming allergic to cats, the researchers warn that parents should consider their own risk of cat allergy.

The findings appear in the December issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing