Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2004 Mar;113(3):433-8.

Presence and timing of cat ownership by age 18 and the effect on atopy and asthma at age 28.

Author information

  • 1Woolcock Institute for Medical Research, Sydney, NSW, Australia.



Asthma and allergic sensitization to cats frequently coexist, although recent studies show less atopic disease among people who had pets in infancy. However, no longterm evaluations have been performed thus far.


We sought to evaluate the relationship between cat ownership at different age periods (< 18, > 18, and both periods and atopic disease at age 28.


Australian school children aged 8 to 10 years were recruited in 1982 and participated in follow-up surveys until 2002. Cat ownership was defined by surveys in 1992 and 2002 as having a cat before age 18 only, after age 18 only, or in both periods of life. Health outcomes were defined at a mean age of 28.5 years.


Complete data were available for 224 subjects, 50 of whom had a cat before 18 years of age only, 14 after age 18 only, and 70 in both periods. Compared with 90 subjects that never had a cat, having a cat before age 18 protected against atopy to outdoor allergens, airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) to histamine, current wheeze, and current asthma (P < .05). In contrast, subjects who acquired their first cat after age 18 showed a trend toward higher prevalence rates for asthma symptoms and AHR (P > .10).


Having had a cat before 18 years of age protects against adult asthma and atopy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center