I think I might have an allergy to my cat. I've had her for 2 years now and there was nothing when we got her, but now when I pet her I sneeze and my eyes itch and get really red and sore. I don't want to get rid of her because I love her. What should I do?
It is possible to develop an allergy to something that's never bothered you before. The good news is that people with allergies don't always have to get rid of their pets — some people just need to make some changes in their house, such as keeping the pet out of their bedroom.
Make an appointment with an allergist to find out for sure if you have an allergy and, if so, what's causing it. The allergist will ask you about your symptoms (like when you sneeze) and your medical history, including whether family members have allergies. The doctor may also recommend allergy testing.
If you do have an allergy, your doctor may prescribe medications or allergy shots. Your allergist will also recommend things you can do at home — like washing your hands frequently, making sure your house is vacuumed and dusted regularly, and getting rid of carpets and drapes that trap dust and pet dander.
Most doctors recognize that pets are important members of a person's family and they do everything they can to help people keep them!
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: October 2011
*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.