The frequency and severity of cat allergy vs. dog allergy in atopic children

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1983 Aug;72(2):145-9. doi: 10.1016/0091-6749(83)90522-5.


Questions were put to parents accompanying 1238 children, 1 to 17 yr old, who had symptoms of respiratory tract allergy. Skin prick tests were then performed. Symptoms after exposure to cats and positive skin test results from cat hair extract were significantly more frequent than symptoms after exposure to dogs or reactions to dog hair extract. The prevalence of symptoms and positive skin test reactions to cat allergens increased with age, significantly more so than the reaction or symptoms after exposure to dog allergens. The greater frequency of sensitivity to cats was not caused by exposure to cats in more homes, since dogs significantly outnumbered cats as the household pet in both atopic and nonatopic families. However, greater intimacy of exposure to cats when they were present may have been a factor because cats, significantly more often than dogs, were inside the house and in the child's bedroom. Two subgroups were examined to determine whether those with cat sensitivity who owned cats had more severe symptoms than those with dog sensitivity who owned dogs. Numbers were small and differences not statistically significant, but those in the cat subgroup more frequently had persistent allergic nasal symptoms and abnormally low spirometric measurements than did those in the dog subgroup. Our findings indicate that children are more often allergic to cats than to dogs and suggest that the greater frequency of sensitization to cats may be due to increased intimacy of exposure to cats.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aging
  • Allergens / administration & dosage*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic
  • British Columbia
  • Cats / immunology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dogs / immunology*
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Skin Tests


  • Allergens