According to a new study, owning a cat can help prevent high risk children from developing asthma.
Contrary to popular belief, a cat in the house is good for infants born with a gene that makes them more susceptible to the condition.
According to Danish scientists, ‘early exposure’ to these allergens could help prevent the ailment developing. However, researchers at the University of Copenhagen's specialist childhood asthma research facility found no benefits for owning a dog.
In the study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunilogy there is a genetic variant, called a TT genotype, which is associated with a higher risk of asthma and related illnesses such as pneumonia and forms of bronchitis.
Having a cat made little difference to children with a low risk of asthma, lead author Dr Jakob Stokholm discovered.
However, the chances of getting asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis were 'inversely associated' among the TT genotype kids.
In other words, the higher the risk of getting asthma, the more benefit owning a cat would have.
It is believed that exposure to the allergens in cat hair helps bolster a child's immune system as it develops, rather than as an adult when it is fully formed.
The reason cats are more effective than dogs is possibly because they are more likely to have contact with a child's bed than dogs.