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Surprise Sneeze Trigger: Your Cat's Fur Color
[sidebar]Cats with dark coats may provoke more sneezing, congestion, and itchier eyes and throats than lighter-hued felines, according to research inThe Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Researchers at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn studied 60 cat owners: 29 with moderate allergy symptoms, 14 with mild symptoms, and 17 who had no symptoms at all. Those with moderate symptoms were more likely to own dark-colored cats than those with mild or no symptoms. In fact, the odds of having moderate symptoms were six times higher with a dark kitty.
Dark cats might have higher concentrations of antigens, the proteins that prompt allergic reactions, in their fur, says lead researcher Sumera Hussain, MD, a fellow in the hospital's allergy department. Or their antigens may simply be more potent.
Dr. Hussain says it's too soon to advise allergy sufferers to maximize their comfort by choosing light-colored cats over dark ones. But whatever the color of your cat, you can lessen allergic symptoms this way:
- Keep kitty out of your bedroom."You need an antigen-free environment for sleeping," says Dr. Hussain.
- Install air-filtering machineswith high-efficiency air (HEPA) filters in rooms frequented by your cats. You can find these units (they're roughly the size of toaster ovens) at most department and hardware stores.
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