Living with Cat Allergies

Do you or family members have allergies involving cats? You may be interested to know that you don’t have to give up your cat because of allergies. Thousands of victims of hay fever, asthma, and other allergies are able to cope while living with the cats they love. Although cat allergy symptoms may never go away completely, they are manageable.

No cat breed has been scientifically proven to be hypoallergenic, but there is evidence that a few breeds may be less allergenic either because of the type of coats they wear or because they produce less of the protein which creates dander. Cats with short, very fine coats tend to not hold dander as much as longhaired cats or those with multiple coat layers, especially cats with dense undercoats.

Remember this basic fact about cat allergens: They need to be airborne and you need to inhale them for you to have an allergic reaction to them.

Here are some quick tips for minimizing cat dander, the microscopic flakes of dried saliva on cats’ skin which cause allergy.

•  Unaltered cats produce more dandruff than neutered cats. Male cats, particularly unaltered, produce more allergens than female cats. If your cat has not been fixed, get it spayed/neutered.

•  Sweet-talk a non-allergic housemate or friend to brush the cat daily and to wipe him down weekly with a micro-fiber cloth to rid it of visible dander.

•  Ask your veterinarian about a spray for your kitty’s coat that will minimize dander.

•  Replace curtains and drapes with solid blinds and carpeting and rugs with hardwood floors or tile.

•  Minimize overstuffed furniture in your home.

•  Vacuum regularly with a vacuum cleaner equipped with a Hepa filter.

•  Invest in an air purification appliance. (Compare the Honeywell and Alpine Air systems.)

•  Wash all bedding in 140-degree hot water at least twice monthly.

•  Wash your hands immediately after petting your cat and do not rub your eyes.

•  Keep your bedroom off limits to the feline brigade.

•  Ask your allergist about making a serum for you from a sample of your cat’s hair.

You DO NOT have to get rid of your cat! Many of the same suggestions apply to other pets that might be causing allergic reactions in your family. If you need additional help or information, please contact Nevada Humane Animal Help Desk at animalhelp@nevadahumanesociety.org or 775-856-2000, ext. 200

Keeping a cat when you have allergies may take a concerted effort and may have a price tag, but the love you receive from your little feline friend is priceless.

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