Thinking about adding a new pet to your household? If you're over 20 and have never owned a pet before, you might want to opt for a dog, according to a new study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Buying a cat for the first time as an adult, the study found, could up your risk of developing cat allergies by 85 percent.
The study followed 6,292 people between the ages of 20 to 44 who were tested and found to be free of cat allergies at the start of the study. Of those people, 651 acquired cats during the nine-year study period, and they found that those people were much more likely to become sensitized to cat dander and develop allergies than people who had never owned cats. The authors also found that people who already suffered from asthma, nasal allergies, and eczema were the most likely to develop cat allergies. On the plus side, however, they noticed that having a cat during childhood protected against future cat allergies well into adulthood; previously, allergists believed that the protection lasted only through childhood.
Read More: 5 Ways That Spending Time with Animals Helps Your Health
This study doesn't necessarily mean that you have to kick kitty to the curb if you're suddenly noticing allergy symptoms. Among the steps that allergists recommend for allergy-prone cat owners:
• Leave the cat out of your bedroom. In fact, the study authors here even noted that people who allowed a cat into the bedroom had a higher chance of developing allergies than people who had a separate bed for the cat.
• Get a HEPA-filter air purifier for your bedroom.
• Talk to an allergist about allergy shots.
• Wash your cat once a week. If you do that, we want pictures….