Living with Cat Allergies
Date: Nov 6, 2010
People with cat allergies are actually allergic to cat dander, saliva and urine. Cat allergies may cause cold-like symptoms, such as itchy eyes, runny nose, and skin rash. Because the symptoms can be so uncomfortable, re-homing cats is often the first solution people turn to. However, that may not be necessary. Your cat is a beloved member of the family, and re-homing them should be your last resort. Allergy symptoms can be greatly reduced by trying these simple steps:
- Limit your cat to specific rooms in the house and keep them out of the bedroom(s) of the allergic family member(s). Keep cats off of the furniture. Some experts think that 8-10 hours of allergen free breathing (such as while sleeping) can help you to remain symptom free, even if exposed to allergens, during the rest of your day.
- Wash bedding in hot water (140 deg) often, weekly if possible.
- Cat allergens are airborne ... using HEPA air filters in rooms where your cats frequent will help reduce them. Install and air cleaner on forced-air heating/air conditioning systems.
- Vacuum with a high grade HEPA vacuum cleaner as often as possible (at least weekly). Vacuum floors, furniture, draperies, even walls.
- Use a steam cleaner to clean your home (like the inexpensive Shark Portable Steam Pocket).
- Wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap after petting your cat, or handling his bedding, toys, etc.
- Apply Allerpet C to your cat's coat. It is available from your local veterinarian and many online sources like HealthyPets.com. A less effective, but helpful method is to wipe down your cat with a damp micro fiber cloth.
- Keep litterboxes away from vents. Use clay litter, which creates less airborne dust.
- Open windows and air out your house on dry breezy days for a couple of hours. This can help get rid of some of the airborne allergens.
- Your doctor may recommend one of several allergy drugs: Over the counter antihistamines (Claritin, Benadryl, Zyrtec); prescription drugs (Allegra, Astelin); decongestants (Sudafed, Allegra-D); prescription steroids (Flonase, Nasonex), or a course of allergy shots. Be sure to consult your physician, preferably an allergist/immunologist.