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Name: Elizabeth B.
Status: Educator
Age: 30s
Date: September 12, 2002 

I went with my son to adopt a cat at the Humane Society, and the young girl behind the counter told me not to let my son sleep with the cat because the cat hair, if breathed in, can go to my son's brain and kill him. When I told my students about this "silly" advice, one girl told me that her parents would not let her sleep with the family cat because cat hair, if breathed in, can cause sterility in females. Can either of these "old wives' tales" be true?

No, they are all false. I agree that cats should not sleep in cribs with infants, but everything else is nonsense. In fact, recent studies have shown a LOWER incidence of asthma in children who grow up with cats in the house.

Phillip Raclyn, DVM CVA

Neither of these stories is true. The only possible danger from cat hair would be if your son is highly allergic to cats. Such an allergy could trigger an asthma attack. Asthma is a constriction of the airways which can be fatal if it is severe enough. But otherwise, sleeping with a cat or dog is harmless.

Christine Ticknor Ph.D.

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