How to Test for Cat Allergies at Home

Laboratory Equipment

Maybe you’re looking to eventually adopt a furry friend, or maybe you’re noticing your eyes starting to itch when you’re around your cats. Regardless of the reason, many cat lovers have asked a similar question at some point: “am I allergic to cats? If so, how do I test for cat allergies at home?” Fortunately, you can take a variety of actions to help answer these questions for yourself in a safe manner, all-the-while having several options to help alleviate your symptoms if needed.

What Are Cat Allergies?

To better understand how to test for cat allergies, it’s helpful to have an idea of what actually causes cat allergies. Like most allergies, cat allergies typically cause symptoms such as itchy eyes, stuffy/runny nose, shortness or breath, and/or skin rashes. These reactions are due to your body’s immune system mistaking a foreign substance to be harmful when it’s actually safe. Such substances are called “allergens.” In the case of cat allergies, the culprit is Fel D1: a protein found in cats’ saliva that’s released into the air and other surfaces when they groom and shed.

Simply put, when you’re allergic to a substance that enters your body, your immune system overreacts and produces antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). These IgE antibodies cause certain cells in your body to release chemicals – known as histamines – that lead to an allergic reaction. For instance, somebody with a cat allergy might accidentally be exposed to airborne Fel D1 from a nearby cat that shed recently. This could trigger their immune system to produce IgE, which in turn causes their eyes to become itchy, or their nose to become stuffy.

How Can I Test for Cat Allergies?

If you think you’ve experienced an allergic reaction to cats, or if you just want to be as prepared as possible, there are a few ways to get tested for cat allergies. 

Ask Your Doctor or an Allergist

Many healthcare providers, such as allergists (allergy specialists), can help diagnose your allergies based on several factors: your medical history, symptoms, and test results. In the case of testing for cat allergies, the healthcare professional may use a skin prick test, where your skin is gently pricked after being exposed to a cat allergen. Your body’s reaction to this test (if there’s any swelling or redness, for instance) could aid in their diagnosis.

Take a Test for Cat Allergies at Home

Although your doctor or allergist is usually a go-to for allergy testing, there are also options to test for cat allergies at home. For instance, you can take a home allergy test, many of which are purchasable as over-the-counter products. There are a variety of brands to choose from, such as Everlywell’s Indoor & Outdoor Allergy Test, which tests your IgE activity to many of the most common allergens – including cat allergens. 

Take Measures to Reduce Allergen Exposure and See What Happens

While it may not be the best course of action in addressing how to test for cat allergies at home, simply seeing how your body reacts (differently) to reduced allergen exposure could be another option. For cat-owners, this could include installing air filters to directly remove the allergens, regularly cleaning areas that your cats frequently walk around, or using products such as Pacagen’s Cat Allergen Neutralizing Spray, which reliably neutralizes the Fel D1 allergens in the air and on surfaces with just a few sprays.

When Should I Test for Cat Allergies?

It’s never too late or too early to test for cat allergies. Whether testing at home or in a doctor’s office, having a more complete understanding of your body’s reactions and limits is always a good thing.

In particular, if you’re looking to adopt a cat in the near future, it’s best to pre-emptively get tested. That way, if you do end up being allergic to cats, you can make a decision accordingly or take several precautionary measures to manage your symptoms better. If you’re still looking to adopt a cat despite having allergies, you can look to adopt certain hypoallergenic breeds, described in further detail in another one of our articles. We’ve also included a couple tips and tricks you can take to improve your quality of life in a separate article.

If you’re already a cat-owner and are just realizing you might be allergic, it’s also not too late to reactively get tested. If you find out you have cat allergies, you still have time to begin changing some habits, on top of using additional products and supplements. For instance, you can begin using Pacagen’s Cat Allergen Neutralizing Spray or take antihistamines to help alleviate your symptoms.