14

The following is from http://blog.petspyjamas.com/getty-dog-owners-vs-cat-owners-unbelievable-facts/9/:

9. Cat owners have a lower chance of developing allergies

When cats enthusiastically rub themselves against your legs, it isn’t just out of affection or a desire for food. Those clever cats are also helping to boost your immune system, and are particularly great for triggering allergy immunity in babies. No wonder they were worshipped as gods in ancient Egypt!

Is it true?

  • It seems that there are two claims here - that exposure to cats is good for the immune system, and that cats are aware of this effect, and intentionally try to produce it. – user43536 Jan 16 '18 at 9:52
8

The evidence is somewhat mixed. Maybe. In summary, there is conflicting evidence. None of the evidence here is particularly strong. I conclude that cat exposure is neither associated with a strong benefits nor detriments, or we might expect to see more consistent results.

None of these studies are sufficient to show causality - merely suggestive correlation.



Mild evidence that cats are good

This was only a survey but it found cat exposure was negatively correlated to allergies.

Children exposed to pets during the first year of life had a lower frequency of allergic rhinitis at 7–9 years of age and of asthma at 12–13 years. Children exposed to cat during the first year of life were less often SPT positive to cat at 12–13 years.



Evidence that cats are mildly evil

Exposure to animal dander did not influence the prevalence of clinical disorder, but positive SPT reaction to cat dander was more prevalent in infants who were exposed to cats and/or dogs (p = 0.04)

So cat exposure isn't associated with serious allergy problems, but is associated with subclinical ones.



Evidence that cats are mild

This was a study focussed on cow's milk, but as an aside:

Allergic disease was not associated with exposure to tobacco smoke, house dust mite antigen, or cats.

So cat exposure is UNcorrelated with allergies.

However, no relation between early indoor allergen exposure and the prevalence of asthma, wheeze, and bronchial hyper-responsiveness was seen.

So, cat exposure is UNcorrelated with allergies.

  • If someone can find a peer-reviewed meta-analysis, I would vote it up over this answer. – Oddthinking Feb 11 '15 at 4:49
  • 1
    @Oddthinking I found this review from 2003, but it comes to much the same conclusion. – Is Begot Feb 11 '15 at 16:40
  • @Geobits: Nice find. I would still suggest writing an answer based on that, because it is still more recent than my cites, their literature review was more systematic, and they have more expertise so their conclusions are more definitive. – Oddthinking Feb 11 '15 at 22:55

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