A study conducted by researchers at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health showed that cat ownership probably has a very good effect on young children of ages up to 5 years. The study was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Basically, what is showed was that children which live in the same home as cats have smaller chances of getting allergies and asthma, due to the fact that they create antibodies for allergies related to cats. At three years of age, children who had made antibodies to cats early in life were more likely to have wheeze; wheeze is a respiratory symptom which is connected to asthma.
So especially prolonged cat ownership and early life exposure to cats may have a really protective effect. This doesn’t mean that if a child has asthma cats could help him. Study leader speaks his mind:
“While the study design does not allow us to recommend early cat ownership to prevent asthma, it does seem to indicate that avoidance of cats to prevent the development of asthma is not advised. However, once a child has asthma and is allergic to cats, the recommendation would still be to find a new home for the cat,” said Matthew Perzanowski, PhD, assistant professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health and lead author and investigator on the research.