Yesterday was International Cat Day, and the perfect way to celebrate is by enjoying the company of a local feline. Sadly, cat allergies prevent some cat admirers from enjoying their adorable smooshy faces.
But even if you’re terribly allergic, there are steps you can take to help alleviate symptoms and enjoy every day with these volatile furballs.
There are a lot of misconceptions about what part of the cat is actually causing all the itchiness and sneezing. Surprisingly, it isn’t the hair they leave everywhere. It isn’t even their dander, but a protein in the dander, according to Web MD. That protein is also found in their saliva and urine.
While any furry animal produces these protein-soaked materials, cats both lick themselves and pee in a box in your house, so you can imagine how it gets into the air.
Most people with allergies just try to avoid cats entirely, but below are some options for allergy sufferers who refuse to live a life without joy.
Some find that the side effects of antihistamines are mild compared to the side effects of kittens, according to Metro.co.uk. There are plenty of once-a-day medications that will help with mild allergies that are also non-drowsy — I take Zyrtec for my pollen allergies and the only change I’ve noticed is that I’ve stopped sneezing.
Everyone has different reactions, however, and it’s best to consult your doctor if you want some direction. It also might take a couple experiments to find the medication that works best for you. Unless you want to be drowsy, so you can sleep next to your kitty on the couch all day.
Keep Them Out Of The Bedroom
It’s helpful to limit where your cats are allowed. The best place to ban them is the bedroom, because it’s where you lay still with your mouth open eight hours a night. Your bedroom is also likely full of a lot of dander-catching blankets and pillows.
If you do let them snuggle with you when you’re most vulnerable, try to wash all your blankets twice a month, rather than never, which is what I do. Also change your sheets and pillow cases regularly, and store them somewhere they won’t accumulate dust and dander, such as in a plastic container.
The Spruce Pets focuses on all the ways that keeping a clean house will make it possible to cohabitate with a little dander machine. They recommend daily vacuuming, and on top of that, they suggest you use a steam cleaner.
Steam cleaners are chemical free and especially effective on upholstery and carpets, which are basically just magnets for spores, dust mites, bacteria, and everything else making you sneeze. Heck, it might not even be the cat!
Though, remember that thing about the protein being in their urine? If you’re coughing more than usual, clean the kitty litter. Yes, it is in the air.
Get An Air Filter
The most commonly recommended filter for cat allergies is a high-efficiency particulate air filter, or HEPA. If you have an air purifier already, you may be able to find a HEPA filter that fits it, but there are also a lot of models available. There are also HEPA vacuums, if you want to HEPA your life.
But allergist Asriani Chiu, MD, warned on Web MD to be careful not to buy air systems that incorporate chemicals.
As for those air de-ionizers/purifiers often hawked on late-night infomercials, they may make allergies worse by releasing harmful ozone gas.
Clean The Cat Itself
There are conflicting accounts of how productive it is to literally wash your cat. “Bathing a cat was once believed to be helpful, but the cat would have to be washed almost daily,” asthma specialist Dr Robert Zuckerman told Petfinder.
Efficacy aside, very few cats will willingly cooperate with a daily dunk. But there are liquids that supposedly help reduce the amount of allergen in the air by keeping it on the animal, such as Allerpet.
According to the Allerpet website, shedding increases as animals age, because their skin gets less supple and becomes drier. Humidity helps to keep them from releasing dander, as does fresh air, but a light application of their product basically keeps the animal moisturised. Applying it also removes some of the dander on the fur, because you’re wiping it with a washcloth.
Alternately, you could just use a damp microfiber cloth for your pet’s coat. You’ll probably both be happier with that than if you try to dunk your pet in the bath, though it’s highly possible they’ll be annoyed by a cloth, too. Introduce them to it slowly and not when it’s sopping wet. They like to be stroked and licked, so it may be a more natural fit than you’d think.
Always clean your hands after petting the cat so you don’t end up rubbing dander in your eyes. That is, if you ever take a break from scratching that adorable kitty-cat.