I rarely talk about my cat on this blog, but I have one and I absolutely love her. She has been with our family for about 14 years and she is super sweet, especially around our son. When he was a baby, she would rub up against his toes until he giggled. Today, they are good buddies and she always comes into his room to help me wake him up for school.
I am particularly thankful to her for one other thing: She may have prevented my son from developing a cat allergy.
I am allergic to cats, but I take medicine every day to alleviate my symptoms. (I am not alone in this.) This is not, however, a fate that I wanted for my son, so we watched the two of them closely to see what would happen. Five years later and my son doesn't have any reaction to our cat. In fact, when we did get him tested for allergies, he came up as negative for cat dander.
Was it my husband's allergy-free genes or growing up with a cat that helped?
Researchers have recently completed a preliminary study that shows babies who grow up in a furry-friendly household have enriched gut bacteria. The enriched gut bacteria actually shares microbes with the family pet's bacteria, which reduces the chance of the child developing allergies. This may sound disgusting, but keep in mind that all organisms that share a household are also sharing bacteria - whether they are furry or not.
Although the results from the small study are inconclusive, it is encouraging. You may not have to choose between your pet and your baby if you are concerned about allergies. It is possible that issues may work themselves out with constant exposure, leaving you to focus on teaching your children how to play nice with the family pet.
Are you allergic to any animals? If so, do you have them in your household anyway? Tell me in the comments.