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Cats, Allergies, & Newborns

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I thought I saw a similar thread a few months ago, but I couldn't find it on a search, so forgive me if I'm repeating.

We currently have a housecat, and I'm wondering what to do about bringing a newborn into a cat allergen environment. I was allergic to cats all my life until I had allergy shots, and I'm wondering if I should quarantine the cat to one part of the house and deep clean before the baby comes, just in case he/she inherits my allergy, or if we shouldn't worry about it unless the baby shows signs of allergy - which I assume I would notice, but if there's no rash, maybe I wouldn't.

Thoughts?
post #2 of 12
We had a home birth with three cats in the house. The one camped out by the door the whole time and watched what was going on. DS loves them, and I got a text message the other day that he actually grabbed Furball and lifted her off the back of the couch!

Anyway, it has always been my beleif that households with pets have kids with fewer allergies because they build up antigens and immunities against them sooner. People that didn't have contact with animals as small children may be more likely to have allergies because they never built up a tolerance. I'm sure I've seen some studies, but don't have a link or anything.

Baby used to sneeze some, but nothing now! Oh, there'll be hell to pay when he starts to be really mobile and can chase them down the hall! That'll teach them a lesson!
post #3 of 12
Yes, what the PP said! We have two cats, a dog and a rabbit. I remember reading somewhere that having just one type of pet from birth decreases the chance that a child will be allergic to ANY type of pet and is less likely to have allergies in general. Not sure what research there is to back it up, but that's what I read. Somewhere. A long time ago I know that's not much help!

With that said, I am certified in animal behavior and I strongly advise AGAINST quarantining your cat. Cat's are very territorial and babies are just little animals to dogs and cats. It's important to let your cat be around your baby as much as possible (keeping safety in mind, of course) so that your cat can become familiar with the baby rather than feeling like the baby is now the alpha in the house. Our cats love DD even when she grabs their whiskers or ears and pulls. We always let them smell her and gave the cats and the dog plenty of petting and cuddles around the baby.

I think you're safe letting the cat and baby become friends unless you see actual signs of an allergy.
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hklinefelter22 View Post
Anyway, it has always been my beleif that households with pets have kids with fewer allergies because they build up antigens and immunities against them sooner. People that didn't have contact with animals as small children may be more likely to have allergies because they never built up a tolerance. I'm sure I've seen some studies, but don't have a link or anything.
Well, I grew up with dogs, and I'm allergic to them too...
So I'm not sure I can go with that theory. Thanks for your input though.
post #5 of 12
On a side note it is virtually impossable to compleatly remove the cat allergen from the house once a cat has lived there any lenght of time. Not impossable but pretty close. We have 8 cats and both DH and I have cat allergies DS is a bit sniffly nosed at times but that is improving. And confining the cat won't work. You would have to have a seperate air system and change your clothing every time you go in the area with the cat to keep the allergens only in that area. Best to just let them meet and get to know each other from the get-go. It will save a lot of headaches both now and later.

Oh and on the note of allergies I grew up with a cat and am allergic to cats but if I am not around the cats for say a week when I come home it is bad again but with the everyday exposure to them I stop reacting. So it may not remove the allergy but having the source around in this case has sure made it milder allergy then it turns into with absence of the allergen.

I hope this makes sense trying to do too much at once atm.
post #6 of 12
DD has lived with three cats since she was born. She has a moderate cat allergy (as quantified by bloodtest). So... Annecdotal evidence will go both ways.
post #7 of 12
Funny, I was just doing some web research today because I think my LO has allergies (and we have cats) and I thought I read that infants with pets in the house were MORE likely to have allergies... but of course now I can't find it :
post #8 of 12
my friend who is a ped says there are studies that show infants younger than 6 mo who are exposed to cats are less likely to have allergies and asthma. I also know that allergies don't show up for the first year in terms of environmental as well.
post #9 of 12
I grew up in a house with a cat, and never had the slightest reaction to any cat until I went away to college and wasn't around cats for a few months. Then I began to have symptoms whenever I came home.

Have been living with 2 cats now for almost 10 yrs and no allergy whatsoever, I can rub my face in their coats and it's fine.

I don't think there's any reason to assume there will be a problem, until it happens.
post #10 of 12
A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association put that risk in doubt. The study, Exposure to dogs and cats in the first year of life and risk of allergic sensitization at 6 to 7 years of age, concluded that having two or more dogs or cats around during the first year of life actually decreased a child's chances of developing allergies.

In this study, 474 full term babies were followed until they were 6-7 years old, at which time they underwent skin testing to see if they were allergic to common things, such as dust mites, dogs, cats, ragweed, and blue grass.

Surprisingly, 33% of children with no exposure to animals and 34% of children with only one dog or cat tested positive on their allergy skin tests, but only 15% of the children with 2 or more dogs or cats had allergies.

Another study concluded that 'childhood exposure to cats was associated with a significant decrease in sensitization to cats in adulthood, particularly among those with a positive family history of atopy.' A 'decrease in sensitization' means that less of these people were allergic to cats when they grew up.

Many other studies have shown a decrease in allergies and asthma among children who grew up on a farm and were around a lot of animals.
post #11 of 12
I just wanted to add that we have two cats and the cat caretaker that we got both of our cats from warned me that newborns sneeze quite a bit and to not immediately link it with being allergic to cats if you hear a little sneeze. So, if you notice your DC sneezing, don't freak out unless it's a ridiculous amount! Luckily, our DS has shown NO signs of allergies to his two furry brothers.

Also, on a related note, if your cat is your baby (for right now), expect that you MAY feel super annoyed with him or her once the baby is here. I NEVER EVER thought I would feel how I did once DS arrived. Our cats are our babies and we treat them like people almost because we cuddled, kissed and loved them so much. And of course, once DS came, they still expected that amount of attention, but there was no way we (especially me) could give them what they were used to and to top it off, one of our cats was really vocal and would meow non-stop which would make me go ballistic, especially when DS had just fallen asleep. Not to mention that the non-vocal cat that would jump on the counter while I would be nursing DS and then I'd have to get up to shoo him away (while still nursing) and then the minute I'd sit down, he'd jump up again. : It took about three months for me to begin to like our cats again. And, the guilt that it made me feel for feeling negatively towards them was pretty bad too. I'm so glad we're past that stage. Hopefully you won't have this experience, but if you do, know that it's normal and that it will pass and that you're not a horrible pet owner.
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by richella View Post
I grew up in a house with a cat, and never had the slightest reaction to any cat until I went away to college and wasn't around cats for a few months. Then I began to have symptoms whenever I came home.

Have been living with 2 cats now for almost 10 yrs and no allergy whatsoever, I can rub my face in their coats and it's fine.

I don't think there's any reason to assume there will be a problem, until it happens.
I have a similar story. I grew up with cats and had no symptoms. Then we went a period in my early teen years without cats for a few years. Then when we got a cat, both me and my dad had symptoms for about 3 weeks. I have cats now and don't have any reactions, even with my face in them.

Quote:
Our cats are our babies and we treat them like people almost because we cuddled, kissed and loved them so much. And of course, once DS came, they still expected that amount of attention, but there was no way we (especially me) could give them what they were used to
I've already stepped down the attention dramatically. Now one cat just wants to sit near me and observe and just generally have my company, and only maybe 3 times a month wants to sit on me and be pet. The other cat pretty much only wants attention from DH now, though if I initiate, he will purr and rub on me.
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