How Cat Allergies Develop
If you do suffer from cat allergies, you’re far from alone. In fact, people are twice as likely to be allergic to cats than they are to dogs, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. But how do people develop cat allergies in the first place?
Your immune system works every day to find and destroy foreign substances . Some people’s immune systems are more sensitive than others. The immune systems of cat allergy sufferers react to what are essentially harmless microscopic proteins that have been released by your cat in her dander , saliva and urine.
Many people believe pet hair is to blame, but pet hair alone is not an allergen. Hair can, however, collect pet dander and allow it to be distributed willy-nilly throughout your house when your cat sheds. It can collect on furniture, bedding and carpets, and can even last a long time simply suspended in the air.
Some people are lucky enough that they eventually develop an immunity to cat allergies. While this is certainly possible, allergic reactions may also worsen with more exposure. It’s also possible that someone who has never suffered an allergy to cats before can develop one. If you suddenly find yourself sneezing, wheezing or sniffling when you are around your cat, you might want to ask your doctor to test you for an allergy.
To Get A Cat Or Not To Get A Cat
Suffering from allergies should not mean that you need to live inside a bubble or avoid nature and pets. There are so many proven health benefits to having pets, so keep that in mind when you weigh the pros and cons of expanding your family. But also, be aware that “hypoallergenic” pets are not totally allergy-freeand this is something you most likely won’t find out until after the fact. However, there are so many different ways to help reduce any allergy reaction, and once you’ve made yourself comfortable you will actually be increasing your allergy tolerance.
Vacuuming 10 Minutes A Day
A handy stick vacuum is what you need to reduce that cat dander in your home on a daily basis. The vacuum should have powerful suction, brush rolls, a motorized brush roll tool for furniture, and a fully sealed HEPA filtration system.
With a stick vacuum, you all you need is a few minutes every day, and you will see a significant change.
- First, you quickly vacuum the carpets and floors in those areas where your cat mostly spends his or her time. If you have a large home, you could consider restricting bedrooms and other such spaces from your cat. This will make cleaning easier as you have to vacuum a smaller area.
- Next, you detach the wand and take a couple of minutes to quickly vacuum all upholstered furniture and other such areas where cat dander most probably has collected. A motorized brush roll tool is the most effective attachment for wiping out pet hair on such surfaces.
- Thirdly, you canpop on the dusting brush and quickly go through other above-floor areas where cat dander might have landed. Unlike old-fashioned dusters, handheld vacuums wont waft the dust into the air. All the allergy-causing dander will be pulled in and caught by the filter. Even drapes and lampshades can be dusted with a vacuum cleaner.
Just 10-15 minutes each day will do the trick!
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How To Keep A Cat If You Are Allergic To Cats
This article was co-authored by Alan O. Khadavi, MD, FACAAI. Dr. Alan O. Khadavi is a Board Certified Allergist and a Pediatric Allergy Specialist based in Los Angeles, California. He holds a BS in biochemistry from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and an MD from the State University of New York Health Science Center at Brooklyn. Dr. Khadavi completed his pediatric residency at Schneider Childrens Hospital in New York, and then went on to complete his allergy and immunology fellowship and pediatric residency at Long Island College Hospital. He is board certified in adult and pediatric allergy/immunology. Dr. Khadavi is a Diplomate of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology, a Fellow of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology , and a member of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology . Dr. Khadavi’s honors include Castle Connollys list of Top Doctors 2013-2020, and Patient Choice Awards “Most Compassionate Doctor” in 2013 & 2014. This article has been viewed 14,752 times.
Cats make great pets, but if youre allergic to cats, keeping one is a bit more complicated. Allergies to cats are caused by proteins in the cats sloughed off skin cells, called dander, and its saliva. By maintaining an optimal environment that reduces your exposure to cat dander and saliva, as well as taking measures to keep your allergies under control, you can keep a cat successfully even if youre allergic to it.
Reducing Exposure To Cats
While medical treatment can help control cat allergies, the best approach is simple: avoid cats and their dander. Here are some tips.
- Don’t touch, hug, or kiss cats. It should be obvious, but some people think a little cat contact is OK. It isn’t.
- Beware of visitors who own cats. Even if your house guests leave their cats at home, they can bring the dander with them on their clothing and luggage. This indirect exposure can cause serious cat allergy symptoms in some people.
- Plan. If you have to stay in a house with cats, ask that the cat be kept out of the room in which you will sleep for a few weeks before you arrive. Also, start taking allergy medication a few weeks beforehand. Once an allergic reaction gets started, it can be tough to control. But taking medicine can prevent it from happening in the first place.
But what if you already own a cat? Here’s the most sensible advice: if you or a family member has cat allergies, you shouldn’t have a cat in the home.
Of course, such harsh advice may not be easy to follow. What if your kids have already fallen in love with a kitten? What if you intended to never, ever part with your cat? If the cat has to stay, there are other things you can try.
While these techniques might help, they may not be enough. As hard as it might be, if keeping your cat is putting your health — or a family member’s health — at risk, you have to consider giving it up.
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Choose Your Cat’s Food Wisely
If you’re really looking to cut down on your cat’s allergy-inducing effects, Dr. Wooten suggests trying Purina’s LiveClear cat food. It’s marketed to bind the Fel d 1 protein that’s made in cat saliva in order to reduce the impact of cat allergies in humans.
While you can’t completely eliminate your favorite feline’s sneeze-inducing tendencies, these steps can certainly help to curb allergies in order to make your visitor’s stay more comfortable and enjoyable.
Think About Your Flooring
One of the most common mistakes that people make when trying to allergen-proof their home is omitting to pay attention to the floor.
Whilst most kitchens and bathrooms feature hard floorings such as tiles or laminate, the cozier areas of the home are usually kitted out with a soft, fluffy carpet. This may look aesthetically pleasing and feel lovely on your feet, but it is a prime ground for pet allergens to gather.
If you suffer from allergies relating to your cat, it can be a sage idea to remove your carpets and go for a hard floor option.
If youre reluctant to do this, regularly cleaning the carpets is going to be the best way forward, but we cant reiterate enough that wood or tile flooring will make your life so much easier.
Additionally, it pays to think about the number of soft furnishings you keep in areas where you allow your feline companion to go. For example, if the cat is permitted to enter the living room, it can pay to minimize the number of cushions, throws, and curtains opting for blinds may be preferable. All of these items are just as guilty as your carpet for harboring those allergens and giving you symptoms every time you simply want to sit in the comfort of your living room.
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Visit Friends With Cats
Choose to visit a friend with an outgoing cat to allow you to get up close and personal with a feline but on a limited basis. Ask your friend to choose a time when the cat is fed, comfortable, and relaxed. Ask your friend permission to use an allergy relief spray or wipes on the cat if necessary while you’re visiting.
Use your allergy medication half an hour before the arranged time. When you arrive, let the cat set the pace. You may be greeted by being sniffed at your feet and legs at first. You can dangle your hand to see if the cat rubs up against it, which can indicate petting is acceptable. If your allergies are still under control, you might allow the cat to jump onto your lap. Make your visit about 15 minutes at the most to keep both you and the cat comfortable.
In another week or two, visit again with the same cat, and stay longer, up to half an hour. Begin to branch out and visit other friends with cats.
Reduce The Allergens And Your Symptoms
If you are allergic to your pet and your reactions arent life-threatening, there are many ways to reduce indoor allergens and allergy symptoms so you and your pet can live together more comfortably.
If your or a family member’s allergies are simply miserable, but not life-threatening, take these five steps to reduce the symptoms:
1. Create an “allergy free” zone in your homepreferably the allergic person’s bedroomand strictly prohibit the pet’s access to it. Use a high-efficiency HEPA air cleaner, and consider using impermeable covers for the mattress and pillows.
2. Use HEPA air cleaners throughout the rest of the home, and avoid dust-and-dander-catching furnishings such as cloth curtains and blinds and carpeted floors. Clean frequently and thoroughly to remove dust and dander, washing articles such as couch covers and pillows, curtains, and pet beds.
3. Bathe your pet on a weekly basis to reduce the level of allergy-causing dander . Cats can get used to being bathed, but it’s critical to only use products labeled for them kittens may need a shampoo safe for kittens. Check with your veterinarian’s staff or a good book on pet care for directions about safe bathing, It’s a good idea to use a shampoo recommended by your veterinarian or other animal care professional.
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Keeping The Litter Box Clean
If you have allergies, keeping the litter box clean is more important than ever.
Some people are not actually allergic to dander but a protein in cat urine. Choose a dust-free cat litter that keeps the allergens from being wafted into the air.
Change the litter often and use gloves and a face mask when doing so.
Restricting Your Bedroom From Your Cat
People spend about one-third of their day in the bedroom. If you dont want to wake up with your eyes swollen and itching and your nose stuffy, you may want to keep your cat away from the room you sleep in.
Many cats just love the comfortable bed, and they would love to cuddle up next to you to enjoy the warmth. But if youre allergic, you may have to keep your bed and bedroom off bounds.
Here’s how to clean your bedroom:
- Wash and dry your sheets every week.
- Vacuum your mattress to remove any cat dander that may cause your allergies to flare up during the night.
- Keep your bedroom clean by vacuuming routinely.
- Wipe all surfaces with a damp microfiber cloth. Dont forget to wipe the walls and door frames as well.
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Cat Allergy And Newborns
If you are bringing home a newborn, keep your baby and cats apart for the first three months. Cats like soft cozy places to sleep, and babies sleep a lot in the beginning, so it is tempting for a cat to cuddle up in the bassinet. If your baby is premature , you need to be extra-careful to keep the cat away from your baby. A neonates immature lungs cannot cope with the irritating allergens produced by a cat.
Living With Pet Allergy
The best solution to pet allergies is to avoid exposure for example, by not having a pet in your home. Often, the only solution is to find the pet a new home. You should also avoid smoking, as this makes allergies more likely to develop.
Washing the pet, restricting it to one area of the house, using high efficiency particulate air cleaners and removing carpet havent been shown to work.
If you have a pet allergy, always wash your hands after touching the animal and never let it into your bedroom.
If you cant avoid exposure, you might be able to treat the symptoms with medication, such as:
- nasal steroid sprays
Another option is immunotherapy, which is also known as ‘desensitisation’. It’s offered by a specialist known as an immunologist, and takes 3 to 5 years to complete.
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Living With Cat Allergies: Cleaning
Once you have a cat, diligence around the house is one of the keys to limiting allergies.
- Wipe down smooth surfaces in the home regularly. Microscopic dander can stick to any type of surface and is there even if you don’t see it.
- Use a vacuum with a filter and steam clean carpets often. Restricting the cat’s access to carpeted rooms will also help.
- Frequently wash any bedding or blankets that your cat sleeps on.
- Designate specific rooms, like the allergic person’s bedroom, as cat-free zones.
- Consider replacing upholstered furniture. Cloth-covered chairs and sofas can retain a lot of allergens and be difficult to clean. Either keep the cat off of upholstery or consider investing in wood, plastic or leather furniture that is easy to wipe clean.
- Take down your curtains. Like upholstered furniture, curtains can be a magnet for cat hair. Consider replacing them with blinds or other coverings that are easy to clean. If you decide to keep your curtains, launder them regularly.
- Invest in a HEPA filter. These can be attached to your furnace or air conditioner, or purify the air from a freestanding unit. Whatever model you get, their job is to reduce small particles in the air.
Can You Live With A Cat If You Are Allergic
If youve ever despaired about not being able to own a cat because you have cat allergies, then fear not and read on, because I will tell you from my experience that it is possible to live with a cat even if you have allergies.
I was never allergic to cats growing up, but in the last couple of years, my body has been reacting horribly when Im at home. I think the source is hay fever but the fact that I live with indoor cats in an apartment exacerbates the allergic reaction. Sometimes I would go weeks where I wake up with my face like a puffer fish and I sneeze uncontrollably all day long unless I take antihistamines.
Thats not all. My sister is extremely allergic to cats. But she absolutely adores them. She is a proud cat aunty to my cats, Nala and Charlie. But whenever she visits, she has to take allergy medicine otherwise it is complete torture for her.
So, imagine her worry when I moved in with her for a few months with the cats. We had to do a lot of research and try different methods to make sure that she wouldnt be breaking out into hives and her nose wouldnt be a snot waterfall.
These are some of the methods to help reduce your allergic reaction.
Some methods worked, some methods did not. I presume what works and what doesnt will be different for other people, but below is a collection of what I did to remove as much cat dander as possible to prevent allergic reactions.
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Owning A Cat When You Have Allergies
Before deciding you cannot have a cat, check with your doctor first and pinpoint exactly what causes your allergy.
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If you or someone you live with is allergic to cats, you may think that you can never own one however, this is far from the truth. The benefits of having a pet usually outweigh the drawbacks of pet allergies for many people. You’d be surprised to know how many people, with non-life-threatening allergies, live with pets despite having allergies to them! There are several ways to manage your cat allergies and if you, like many other people, prefer not to be tied down to a regimen of drugs and sprays, it is still possible to own your very own furry companion.
Any and all cats and dogs may cause reactions for people who are allergic to animals. Cats tend to cause more reactions than dogs for allergic people, although some people are more sensitive to dogs than cats. Contrary to popular belief, there are no “non-allergenic” breeds of dogs or cats even hairless breeds may cause symptoms.
How To Get Rid Of Cat Dander Living With Pet Allergies
Sneezing and wheezing every time youre around cats or even someone with a cat at home? Itchy skin, red eyes? Runny nose, a rash? You may need to stay away from any feline friends.
But what if you have a cat and you find out you are allergic? Do you just rehome your pet, or can you find a way to co-exist in the same household? Or what if you need to move to a new home where the previous residents have had cats?
If youre allergic to cat dander, it is crucial to know how to get rid of it thoroughly. Even small amounts of cats dandruff can cause your allergies to flare up. And since cat dander is especially good at tightly latching on to any surface, it is also challenging to remove.
If you are looking for ways to get rid of cat dander, then youre on the right page. Let’s get started!
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