Diseases We Can Acquire From Pets-Cat Asthma
( Originally Published 1936 )
I have just received a medical book from London which was printed in 1868. Its contents are, therefore, not very new, but they happen to be something that is a good deal better—they are true.
It is called, "On Asthma," and is by Dr. Henry Hyde Salter. When it was new nobody believed it because Dr. Salter announced a very queer thing. He announced that he and several members of his family had had asthma for many years and that he was finally convinced that it came from the presence in the household of cats.
It is only within the last 10 years that this doctrine has been generally accepted by the medical profession. Asthma, of course, comes in acute paroxysms, which consist of spasms of the muscles of the bronchial tubes. These spasms cause the wheezing. The question is, what initiates the spasm of the muscles? There seems to be no doubt that one thing that will do it is the dust, or dandruff, or emanation from animal hairs.
Dr. Salter relates away back in 1868, and it has been proved many times since, that when his pet cat or kitten would jump into his lap and begin to purr he would immediately begin to have an attack of asthma.
Cats are about the only domestic pets which do this. Rabbits do it—if they can be called pets—and children who raise rabbits frequently have asthma from this source.
Dogs or dog hairs very rarely cause asthmatic symptoms although cases of this sort are on record.
Horses and horse dandruff are, however, very irritating: more asthma patients will be sent into a paroxysm by horses than by any other animal. Patients who are so afflicted have learned to keep away from horses as much as possible, but even the entrance into the room of a person who has been horseback riding will produce an attack in extremely sensitive individuals.
The most unfortunate case of this kind that I ever heard of was a woman whose husband had given her a very expensive tiger skin coat. She immediately began to have asthma and it was traced to the tiger skin. It was a question of the asthma or the tiger, and the lady chose to get rid of the tiger.