10% of North Americans suffer from pet-related allergies, and cat allergies are known to be twice as common as dog related allergies. The leading cause of cat allergies is a protein called Fel d 1, which is found within the cat’s fur and is spread throughout the home. If you’re living with cats and suffering from allergies, we’re here to help! Below is a list of simple ways to reduce allergens in the home and limit your interaction with those left behind.
1. Limit your cat’s range
Make the bedroom a cat-free zone and keep your bedroom door closed. Limiting your cats free-roaming tendencies and washing all bedding and fabrics will keep the rooms you spend the most time in protected from allergens. However, keep in mind that cat allergens are 1/6 the size of pollen allergens and may take months to noticeably reduce. Using allergy or sanitize settings on washing machines for beddings may also be helpful in limiting exposure.
2. Eliminate allergen traps
Carpets and rugs trap significantly more allergens than hardwood or laminate floors. The same can be said for cushions, rugs, curtains and upholstered furniture. Steam cleaning and using a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter in your vacuum are most effective at trapping pet-related allergens. Increasing ventilation with fans and open windows will also help disperse dander outside of the house. Using mops (wet cleaning) and dust trapping microfiber disposable cloths can also be used to trap allergens between vacuuming or on other surfaces. Dry dusting just moves the allergens around and sends them into the air - only to have them settle again shortly after cleaning. Apart from this, the litter box should be cleaned (preferably by someone without allergies) on a daily basis. There are now a number of dust free litters, such as corn cob or wood based ones, on the market which would help reduce the dust during daily litter usage, as well as cleaning. Just make sure that kitty is happy with the new litter before taking the old box and litter away!
3. Groom your cat regularly
Grooming your cat on a weekly basis, preferably outdoors or in a well-ventilated room, will help remove dry hair and dead skin and limit those that spread into the air. Cleansing wipes are also a great, stress-free option to remove saliva and dander from your cat’s coat.
4. Keep kitty healthy!
While we can’t eliminate shedding completely a healthy cat on a good quality diet will shed significantly less than a cat that is on a poor quality food, doesn’t groom well or has health concerns. Connect with a veterinarian today to discuss your kitties health!
5. Explore medications
Over-the-counter medications like antihistamines, nasal decongestants, eye drops and even vitamins C and E have anti-allergy benefits but will never fully eliminate allergies. Immunotherapy is an option many allergy-sufferers turn to, which consists of regular allergen injections to boost your resistance. Some individuals have developed immunity from the use of immunotherapy, while others see little to no change. Remember as well that if kitty goes outside then she could also bring home many pollens and other allergens in her fur.
Allergies are a leading reason for why cats are surrendered to shelters. If you’re thinking about adopting a cat and are unsure about whether you’re allergic, spend some time in a shelter or cat-friendly home for several hours to assess your reaction. If you’re struggling with cat allergies and are looking for answers, consider reaching out to your doctor or a veterinarian. Both have extensive knowledge of pet allergies and will have many recommendations on ways to live as comfortably as possible.