I've had allergies since childhood...my mother & I went for weekly "shots" for many years...My children share my allergies to pet dander, along with "hayfever".
Over the years I noticed that my reaction was most severe to a "new" cat..we've always fostered & I went to college for 3 years to become an AHT...( animal health technician...aka vet tech ). Non drowsy antihistamines never really helped much, but I hated the side effects to the more effective types. So I hated taking anything.
My children unfortunately have inherited my allergies...same pattern became evident...highly reactive to new cats or when visiting at a home with other animals...I thought this was weird but there was no denying it.
There were many times that I felt soooo guilty for exposing my kids to our large number of cats & various other animals...
A couple of years ago I had the chance to voice my observations to a renowed & respected pediatric allergist & he told me..... drum roll here....
...I was actually desensitizing my children to the allergens by continuously exposing them... that this was perfectly safe to do as long as they were free of eczema or asthmatic reactions. This is pretty much the same effect as allergy shots, ( they contain traces of that which the patient is allergic to )...Eventually the kids may be much less allergic...Then recently, I read an article in a medical journal that stated that limiting contact to allergens drastically, as well as over medicating with antihistamines could possibly potentiate or prolong allergic reactions.
To summarize, as long as the person doesn't have ASTHMA or ECZEMA it's okay to expose them to whatever they're allergic to & that eventually over time the reaction may be significantly reduced.
To repeat...ASTHMA is an absolute contraindication!!! Also, I'm referring to sneezing, runny nose,itchy, runny eyes types of allergic reactions...this principle DOES NOT APPLY TO NUT ALLERGIES!!!! ( different type of reaction altogether & it would be life threatening to expose those people to nuts with the intention to desensitize them.)
Some ideas to lessen reactions to cat allergies...brush the cat...bathing is controversial & may actually increase allergen production by the cat,
wash your hands VERY well after handling the cat, especially before touching your face or eyes...BTW...I use antihistamine eye drops to minimalize the redness & itching...avoid sleeping on pillows that the cat has been laying on, etc.