Allergies to Cats
If you’re a cat lover who is allergic to cats, or someone else in
your family is, the good news is that many people are able to build up a tolerance to kitty allergens over time. In fact, the majority of allergic cat enthusiasts learn how to manage their condition without having to live a feline-free existence. It seems the benefits of being owned by a kitty outweigh the drawbacks of allergies for most cat people.
The Cause of Your Sneezing and Wheezing
Many people don’t realize that it’s not a cat’s fur coat that triggers allergic symptoms, but rather, tiny flakes of skin called dander. That’s why hairless cat breeds aren’t truly hypoallergenic.
You can also be sensitive to your cat’s saliva, which you can be exposed to when you pet her, or when saliva comes in direct contact with your skin. Many people are allergic to a specific protein called FEL-d1 found in both cat dander and saliva. And some people are even allergic to cat urine.
Interestingly, several studies in recent years suggest that babies who live with pets in their first year or two have less chance of developing allergies as they grow.
How to Minimize Cat Allergies at Home
- Consider making your bedroom (or the bedroom of your allergic family member) a cat-free zone. This means Fluffy can’t enter the room for any reason.
- Purchase a good quality air purifier to help clean the air of allergens and other pollutants.
- To prevent a buildup of allergens inside your home, replace carpeting with hard flooring, replace drapes and curtains with non-fabric window coverings, and if possible, avoid upholstered furniture.
- Clean your home often and thoroughly, including any surfaces that trap pet hair and dander (couch covers, pillows, bedding, pet beds, etc.)
- Wash bedding at least weekly in hot water.
- Wash your hands after handling your cat, and if the two of you have been snuggling on the couch, consider a shower and shampoo before retiring to avoid bringing kitty allergens to bed with you.
- Feed your cat an anti-inflammatory (grain free), balanced, species-appropriate diet. Reducing or eliminating the allergenic and genetically modified foods your kitty eats reduces the allergenic quality of her saliva.
- Make sure your cat is getting optimal levels of essential fatty acids in her diet to reduce shedding and dander.
- Bathe your cat regularly, taking care to use only a safe, non-drying herbal animal shampoo.