Buying a Kitten For a Gift? Fighting Allergies and Asthma

QUESTION: My children, ages 8 and 10, are begging for a kitten for Christmas. However, the 8-year-old has challenges with allergies that can sometimes turn into asthma. The veterinarian says that children who have asthma may or may not be allergic to cats and it depends on the individual cat. Is there a way to know the probable outcome before we get one? Are there certain breeds that are better for kids?

ANSWERS: The Ragdoll cat is a registered breed with hair much like a rabbit's fur so it is like fluff rather than hair. My daughter was always allergic to cats, some much more than others. When we picked up the Ragdoll, she held him for the 3 hour trip home and never even sneezed. In fact, there was not a problem with her allergies or others who said they are normally allergic to cats. We do have a filter system on each floor of our house. They are small portable systems but I do believe they help with cat allergies and certainly with odors. Ours happens to be by Eco Quest. My mother-in-law had two cats in her apartment that shed like crazy all over everything. When she starting having trouble with her throat they purchased one of these systems and she never had a problem again. - J. S. in SC

Many people think it is the actual hair of the cat that causes an allergic reaction when in fact it is the saliva which attaches to the hair and skin of the cat. Since they frequently clean themselves, their saliva and dander become airborne and can stick around for an extended amount of time and even adhere to items such as curtains, furniture, carpet, etc. The degree to which someone can be allergic to cats, or to other things, like dust, pollen, dog dander, etc., depends on the individual's environment and how sensitive they are to specific allergens. For example, one of my children has flair ups of asthma and whizzing directly correlated to a wide array of allergens. We have two cats and both of us are sensitive to the same one. However, we recently started using the Blueair Medical air cleaner and it has amazingly cut down on our allergic reactions to many things, including the one cat. Some people have an instant allergic reaction to various things while others will be able to tolerate whatever is causing the reaction for an extended amount of time. Since the degree to which your 8-year-old is allergic to cats may or may not be as strong as someone else's, you definitely need to visit with different kittens or cats before buying one. Ask your vet if he has anyone that you could call and make arrangements to visit who owns a Sphinx, Devon Rex or Cornish Rex cat or kitten. Apparently, these breeds do not shed as much and their coats hold less saliva. Also keep in mind that even a mixed breed might work just as well, especially if you try an air purifier as an additional health option for your family.


Our 10-year-old daughter is an excellent speaker, really funny and rather tall for her age. She would like to try and get into making commercials and expand from there. My husband is not too thrilled with the idea and is basically trying to talk her out of it. The more he does the more she is determined to do it. Should we go along with it or make her wait until she's older? If we do agree, is it best to begin with a modeling school or some other type?

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