Cat Dander

The Allergy Kit

About Cat Dander


Read any article about preventing allergy and asthma. What do you find? Avoiding cat dander and other pet dander is a top recommendation. Is cat dander and allergen a real threat to your health? If so, what can you do about it?

When it comes to cat allergens there is a great disparity of opinion. This is due to misinformation spreading unchecked. Some say dander is the cat hair. Others claim it is the dried saliva. Some say there are low dander or no dander cat breeds. It's time we clear the air surrounding cat dander and allergen.

What is Cat Dander?

Put simply, dander is dead skin cells. Every living thing with skin has dander. We humans lose skin cells all the time. Sometimes we see them as ashy residue on dry skin or as dandruff from our scalp. In fact, the word dandruff comes from the same root as dander. When we speak of dander though, we usually mean the dead skin cells that come from an animal. The hair an animal sheds is not dander. The length of the hair, long versus short, makes no difference in the amount of dander produced. In the case of cats, the dried saliva is also not dander.

Dander is the dead skin cells the cat or other animal loses as a part of its normal skin cell growth cycle. New cells are created in the lower portion of the epidermis. These gradually push their way up to the surface and surface cells die and are sloughed off. The typical cat, or dog for that matter, has a twenty-one day cycle of cell growth. Some animals, particularly breeds with problem skin can have growth cycles as short as 3 to 4 days.

The above facts highlight the absurdity of any claim for a cat with no dander or even a low dander breed. The poor cat would need to have no skin to be a dander free cat! Or our dander free cats would have to have indestructible skin with no need to ever renew their birthday suits!

Cats all have essentially the same skin growth cycle. A few breeds have faster cycles resulting in higher than normal dander levels. Older cats are also higher producers of dander than younger cats. This is because of the tendancy of older cats to have drier skin.

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What is Cat Allergen?

Cat dander is not the root of the cat allergy problem. The dander is merely the free ride that the cat allergen hitchhikes on. Research has uncovered 12 separate allergy-causing proteins in cats. The most significant is Fel D 1 (Felis domesticus allergen 1). This is the allergen that afflicts some 80% of cat allergic individuals.

Though it has been extensively studied, the biological function of Fel D 1 in cats is completely unknown. What is known is that tip to tail every fiber of a cat's being seems to be glued to the stuff. It's in their sebaceous glands where it secretes onto the skin and hair follicles. It's in their salivary glands and thus the saliva they use when grooming. It's found in the lachrymal glands (tear ducts). It's in the cat's anal glands, breast milk, urine, feces, and blood.

Researchers believe that Fel D 1 is hormonally related because male cats tend to produce more than females or castrated males. That it is such an integral part of cat biology precludes the possibility that there can be a low allergen or hypoallergenic cat breed. It seems the best you can do is to choose a female over a male.

The quantity of Fel D 1 shed by cats easily overshadows all other allergens for sheer volume. Research in Japan found that Fel D 1 concentrations were 160 times those of dust mite allergen. Considering that Fel D 1 is also more potent than dust mite allergen, you unfortunately have a potent recipe for misery for the cat allergy sufferer.

Cat Dander Allergy Treatment

Additional allergens that cats are partly responsible for include those produced by their parasites. In particular, fleas contribute to the allergen load found in household dust. The quantity and potency of cat dander and Fel D 1 allergen mean that your best control option is to remove the pet entirely. Even then it can take six months or more for allergen levels to subside enough to see relief.

If cat allergy is a serious problem in your home, we believe there are two viable options for you to consider: find a new home for your cat, or consider energy-based allergy treatments such as NAET or Bioset, which can quickly eliminate your cat dander allergy; often permanently!

Click here to learn more about an effective, often permanent cat dander allergy treatment

The Allergy Kit

Article courtesy of J Alan Rodgers of, where you can get the answers you need about home air purifiers and improving indoor air quality.