Henry Hyde Salter has provided the first accurate description of the attacks of asthma on exposure to a cat.
The cause of this asthma is the proximity of a common domestic cat; the symptoms are very similar to those of hay fever, and, as in the case of hay fever, are occasioned by some sudden influence inappreciable by the sense. I cannot recollect at what time I first became subject to the cat asthma, but I believe the susceptibility has existed from the earliest period of life.
I believe there are even some asthma symptoms even if I were sitting by the fire and the cat sleeping on the hearthrug; but the effect is much greater when the cat is at the distance of about one or two feet, or still closer; it is still further increased by the rising of the fur and moving and rubbing about; but most of fur and moving and rubbing about; but most of all when they are in the lap; just under the face….
The asthmatic spasm is immediate and violent, accompanied with sneezing, burning and watery condition of the eyes and nose, and excessive itching of the him I believe that if the cause were suffered to continue, all or most of the other symptoms of hay fever would ensue, only with a more excessive and conspicuous asthma.
After the removal of the cause, and if the paroxysm is not very severe, the cure is effected in five or ten minutes, leaving, as in all other cases of asthmatic spasm, a tendency to mucus at the top of the wind pipe, which being repeatedly removed in the ordinary way, the last symptom disappears, and the lungs and throat resume their normal condition.
One can become allergic not only to cats, but to other animals like horse, fur-bearing and feather-bearing animals. A thorough history of the patient gives a due to diagnosis.
As in other forms of allergy, here also, it should be understood that a person may have come in contact with a cat, dog or horse and never had symptoms, but may develop them now without any apparent reason. So the argument of the patient that, “I have always kept a cat, without getting any symptoms” does not carry weight.
Exposure to animal allergens in a person who is already allergic to house dust, may lead to an increase of symptoms. In a similar manner, removal of animal allergens may lessen symptoms.
The general rule in treatment of allergy—avoid the allergenic agent, applies here as well. This applies not only to the offending animal in the house, but also to the animals in the houses of other people.
Getting rid of pets is not easy. And so is the case with allergic symptoms if you continue keeping the offending animal.