A cat lover’s guide to allergies and cat allergy testing

January 22, 2024

Being a cat lover with allergies isn’t easy, and managing cat allergy symptoms like coughing, sneezing, itchy/watery eyes, runny nose and itchy skin can put a strain on your relationship with your feline friend. But if you’re like most cat lovers who are allergic to their pets, living without your cat may be the last thing on your mind.


Fortunately, scientific advancements in things like diagnostic testing and specialized cat food are making it easier than ever to manage cat allergens and live in harmony with your cat. To help you better understand cat allergen sensitivities, we’re shedding light on what you need to know about cat allergens, cat allergy component testing and more.


Cat allergies are more complex than they seem

You may know the symptoms of cat allergies (coughing, sneezing, itchy/watery eyes, runny nose, itchy skin, etc.), but do you know what’s to blame? It might seem that cat hair is the culprit for all the sniffling, sneezing and itching, but the reality is a little more complicated.


When you experience cat allergy symptoms, your body is reacting to one or more specific proteins in your cat’s saliva, urine and dander. So, when it comes to the question of cat allergies, you need more than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. 


Knowing which proteins (or components) you’re sensitive to makes an enormous difference in helping you and your healthcare provider or allergist develop management plans. That’s where allergy component testing comes in.


What can cat allergy component testing tell you?

Component testing goes deeper than telling you whether you’re sensitive to cat allergens. By measuring your immune response to specific proteins, component testing can provide a better picture of what you may be allergic to and guide a more precise treatment and management of allergy symptoms with your provider. Labcorp OnDemand’s Dog and Cat Allergy Test measures your Immunoglobulin E (IgE) level to dog and cat dander.


If the test finds that you are sensitized to cat dander, further testing is automatically performed (at no additional cost) to find out which specific proteins may be causing your allergy symptoms. These specific proteins can be found in cat’s dander, saliva or urine.


  • Felis domesticus allergen 1 (Fel d 1): Present in about 95% of all people with cat allergies, Fel d 1 is the most important and major cat allergen, triggering an allergen sensitivity response in the body.
  • Felis domesticus allergen 2 (Fel d 2): While Fel d 2 is considered a minor cat allergen, sensitivity to this protein can have important implications for how you manage allergies. Sensitivity to only Fel d 2 could mean your symptoms may be caused by other mammals (e.g., dogs, guinea pigs, horses, pigs, chickens, sheep, goats, rabbits, hamsters) but not likely by cats. This is called cross-reactivity and occurs when your immune system identifies the proteins in different substances similar enough to trigger an allergic response.
  • Felis domesticus allergen 4 (Fel d 4): Fel d 4 is the second most common allergen component of cat dander. Like Fel d 2, Fel d 4 is cross-reactive with proteins produced by other mammals. This means a cat is unlikely to be the primary allergen if you’re sensitive to Fel d 4 but not sensitive to Fel d 1.


What can I do if I have cat allergies?

If allergy component testing reveals sensitivity to one or more of the proteins in cats, don’t worry; there are plenty of ways to improve your quality of life without rehoming your beloved feline.


  • Groom your cat regularly: It’s a longstanding myth that hairless or short-haired cats are less allergenic than other cats. The truth is that all cats, regardless of hair type or color, produce Fel d 1. Frequent grooming can help reduce dry skin and excess shedding, reducing the amount of allergen in the air
  • Wash your hands frequently: Don’t touch your eyes immediately after handling a cat without washing your hands first
  • Designate a cat-free zone in your home: Cat allergens are notoriously ‘sticky,’ meaning they travel easily and can persist on surfaces, especially carpet and fabric, for a long time. To give yourself some symptom-free spaces, it can help to keep certain rooms, like your bedroom, cat-free
  • Avoid carpet that cat allergens can stick to easily: Where possible, opt for hardwood or tile, which can be cleaned more easily
  • Keep your home clean: Install high-quality HEPA air filters, vacuum floors and wipe down surfaces regularly
  • Consider a change of diet: Purina® recently developed a revolutionary cat food that’s been shown to reduce the amount of Fel d 1 in cat hair and dander by an average of 47% by the third week of daily feeding. Discover how Purina Pro Plan® LiveClear uses a key protein in eggs to simply and safely neutralize Fel d 1 in cats, potentially reducing your allergen exposure and making life with your cat more comfortable
  • Treat symptoms as recommended by your provider: Antihistamines, corticosteroids, decongestants and other medications or therapies may be used to alleviate symptoms. If you purchase the Labcorp OnDemand Dog and Cat Allergy Test, take your results to your provider to develop a personalized allergy plan.

Get started on the path to relief with allergy component testing


Saying goodbye to allergy symptoms doesn’t have to mean saying goodbye to your pets. With Labcorp OnDemand’s Dog and Cat Allergy Test, you can get the answers you need to work with your healthcare provider and find relief.