Library cats pose problems for allergic
When they are allowed to meet again, the Library Board of Directors will discuss the issue of cats in the library. Letters (regarding cats) dated and hand-delivered on Feb. 18 were given to Library Director Amy Dodson. By phone on March 9, Ms. Dodson said that these letters were read by the directors at the Feb. 25 board meeting and the subject will placed on an agenda. Ms. Dodson said that this placement on the agenda “doesn’t mean they’ll do anything”, the cats would continue to be showcased in the library. If the Library Board decides to allow the presence of cats in a public location, patrons of the library should, at least, be aware of its action. Excerpts of the Feb. 18 letter to the board are now shown.
As adorable as they are, cats should not be present in a public library. Douglas County residents with allergies or asthma are subject to possibly life threatening (“anaphylaxis”) or, at least, life-altering reactions to cat allergens. It would be best if the cats were not present.
(Following are facts about cat allergens retrieved from studies made by The American Lung Association; The College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology; and The Allergy and Asthma Centers of Fredricksburg and Fairfax, Virginia.)
An estimated 10 percent of people are allergic to household pets, with cat allergies being twice as common as dog allergies. Among children, about one in seven between the ages of 6 and 19 prove to be allergic to cats. Highly-sensitive people can develop symptoms within minutes of touching a cat or entering a feline-occupied room.
It is not the cat’s fur that is an allergen. Most people with cat allergies react to a protein found on a cat’s dander/dead skin that is regularly sloughed off. This protein is also contained in cat urine and saliva. It is called Felis domesticus 1 (Fel d 1).
The reason that cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies has to do with the size and shape of the protein Fel d 1. It is so small and light — about one-tenth the size of a dust allergen — that it can stay airborne for hours. The particle’s “just right” size allows its inhalation deep into the lungs. (Dog allergens don’t stay airborne the same way cat allergens do.) Fel d 1 does not lose its strength and its excessive stickiness allows it to adhere to walls, furniture, clothing and other surfaces.
Fel d 1 can get into the air when an animal is petted or groomed. During dusting, vacuuming and other activities, this allergen can be stirred into the air. Once airborne, the Fel d 1 particles can stay suspended in the air for long periods and may remain for up to six months after the animal is gone.
Contact with a cat can trigger a severe asthma attack in up to three in ten people with asthma: coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath. Allergy and asthma symptoms may take weeks or even months to improve. Cat allergies can also lead to chronic asthma.
The kindness shown our Animal Shelter cats is to be commended. Although a Mission Statement for Douglas County (or, if any exists, for its Library) was not located in a timely manner for this request, one of its tenets would probably not be the socialization of cats for adoption. Subjecting Douglas County’s allergic and asthmatic residents to cat allergens is unnecessary. The removal of cats from the library effectively takes care of any possible health issues and inherent liabilities to the County.
Cats should not be present in a public library. People with cat allergies or asthma should not be exposed to this type of allergen in a public setting — children, in particular, should be able to participate in all of the activities that the library kindly offers. Most doctors will say that the only sure way to limit or avoid symptoms of allergy or asthma is to remove the cat.” (End of Excerpt)
The allergic and/or asthmatic of Douglas County are now forewarned.
Davelyn Miyashiro is a Gardnerville Ranchos resident