According to a new study out of Verona, Italy, all families with young children will be doing their kids an immense favor if they get a cat. That’s because without exposure very early in life, kids will more likely develop allergies to cats later in life.
So, if you have young children – get a cat.
Dr. Marlo Olivieri, University of Verona, and colleagues collected data on people 20 to 44 years old whose blood work showed they weren’t allergic to cats. The 6,292 participants were tested a second time, 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 significantly lower risk of developing cat allergy when they got a new cat as adults. Other researchers have reported the same finding.
No one knows for sure, but it seems that exposed at a young age (we’re talking infants and toddlers), is a very good thing, a way to acclimate to the Fel d 1 protein which creates the allergy. Exposed later in life, many human immune systems can’t cope for some reason. 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.
The Latest Winn Feline Foundation-Funded Research
Darn Stubborn Staff Infections Can Affect Cats
The emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in companion animals is a concern for human health. If you’ve been hospitalized recently, you know that one concern in human medicine is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). This bacteria is commonly found in people, but only rarely in dogs and cats.
Dogs and cats are more commonly infected with Staphylococcus pseudintermedius (MRSP). A study of dogs and cats in Portugal, where MRSA is a problem, discovered that pets were found to harbor MSRP relatively commonly.
These bacteria have significant antibiotic resistance, and when wounds or other internal tissues are infected opportunistically, treatment can be difficult. MRSP can potentially transfer from pets to humans, although the extent of this occurrence remains unknown. Further research is needed to define the role, if any, of MRSP in human infections.
Feline Asthma and Bronchitis
Chronic feline asthma and chronic bronchitis affects an estimated 1% of the pet cat population. Both conditions are diffuse inflammatory diseases of the lower airway that can lead to irreversible damage called “airway remodeling.”
Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) analysis is the only diagnostic test readily available in a clinical setting to determine the type of inflammatory cell present in the lower airways. No studies in cats have determined if absence of clinical signs correlates with absence of airway inflammation.
A retrospective evaluation of 10 cats aimed to determine the correlation between the resolution of clinical signs in cats receiving oral glucocorticoids with the resolution of inflammation based on BALF cytology (diagnosing diseases or conditions based on tissue samples).
The findings showed that 70% of the cats diagnosed with asthma or chronic bronchitis that had resolution of clinical signs (cough, wheeze, or episodic respiratory distress) with simultaneous high-dose glucocorticoid therapy still had evidence of persistent airway inflammation based on BALF cytology.
So, use caution when saying the absence of clinical signs means the absence of airway inflammation. Premature tapering of glucocorticoids based on absence of clinical signs in cats with subclinical inflammation could be detrimental in the long run.
Keep tabs on cat health research updates here.
The Oldest Tiger Ever, Could Have Been Larry King
Scientists in China discovered a skull and jaw that belongs to what is thought to be the oldest extinct species of tiger known. Although the skull is thought to date back 2.1 to 2.5 million years ago, and clearly resembles today’s tigers, it’s more the size of a jaguar skull. This skull predates other known tiger fossils by up to a half a million years. The species, Longdan tiger (Panthera zdanskyi), lived in Northwest China.