Cats are wonderful, loving pets that can bring a great deal of joy and enrichment to your life. Unfortunately, though, some people are allergic to these furry pets. While some allergies to cats are too severe to allow a cat in the home, people with mild allergies can often manage their allergies and the environment in such a way as to reduce cat allergens in the home.
It does take some effort and knowledge of how to manage these allergies for an allergic person to comfortably share a home with a cat, so here’s what you should know.
What Causes Cat Allergies?
Allergies to animals are actually to proteins present in the animal. These proteins are typically present in skin cells, urine, and saliva. Many people mistakenly believe that they are allergic to cat hair, but this isn’t the case. While cat hair can have skin cells attached to it, causing people to be exposed to the protein allergens, the allergy isn’t caused by the hair itself.
Because the allergens present in cats are proteins and not the hair itself, any cat can cause allergy symptoms, including hairless cats. To help manage your allergies to cats, it’s important to understand how these allergies are caused so you best know how to reduce your exposure.
Tips to Live With Cat Allergies
1. Consider Low-Shedding Breeds
While there are no hypoallergenic cats, there are some cats that will shed fewer allergens in your home than others. Cat breeds that are shorthaired or hairless do tend to shed less than longhaired breeds, so you may find it easier to manage the allergens coming from your cat with a lower shedding breed.
Breeds like the Sphynx, Bengal, Bombay, Siamese, and Cornish Rex tend to be low-shedding cat breeds. Surprisingly, the Siberian is also a low-shedding breed, although its long, thick coat would lead you to think otherwise.
A cat with minimal shedding will still leave allergens in your home between their dander, saliva, and urine, but less shedding will result in slightly less dander floating around your home.
2. Clean on a Schedule
Keeping things clean will help to reduce the allergens in your home. However, if you clean too much or too little, it can make your allergy symptoms worse. Some people find that cleaning too frequently tends to kick up dander too much, while cleaning too little can allow allergens to build up. It’s important to find a cleaning schedule that works to reduce your allergy symptoms while still being manageable with your lifestyle.
Routine cleaning should include wiping down hard surfaces, including walls and fan blades, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, and keeping upholstered surfaces clean. Wash bedding, curtains, and other linens regularly, including your cat’s bedding and favorite blankets to ensure that dander is minimized throughout your home. It may take some trial and error to determine what type of cleaning schedule works best for you.
3. Consider a HEPA Filter
When it comes to minimizing the allergens in your home, proper filtration can be the difference between allergy symptoms and no symptoms. Adding air filters throughout your home can help significantly, but you may also find success by adding special HEPA filters to the air filtration system already present in your home.
HEPA filtration systems can be quite pricey, but even just the filters for your HVAC system can be pricey as well. If HEPA filters are out of your budget, you may consider replacing your regular air filters more frequently to reduce the allergens circulating in your home.
4. Limit Upholstered Surfaces
It may not be practical to eliminate all of the upholstered surfaces in your home, but by reducing upholstery, you’ll reduce the places for allergens to collect. If you have upholstered furniture in your bedroom, living room, dining room, and office, then you have multiple spots for allergens to collect.
If you can limit the upholstery by swapping upholstered surfaces to hard surfaces or surfaces with washable fabric, then you will be able to better manage the allergens than you will if there are a large number of upholstered surfaces for allergens to build up.
In lieu of reducing upholstered surfaces, you can also consider making some areas less accessible to your cat, reducing the allergens in some areas. Ideally, you should be limiting your cat’s access to your bed linens and other places where you spend a lot of time.
5. Groom Your Cat
The more often you brush or bathe your cat, the better off things will be for you. If you can brush your cat every couple of days, you will reduce the loose dander present on your cat. While bathing cats regularly isn’t typically recommended, it may be very beneficial if you have notable allergies to your cat.
Regular bathing and brushing can help to reduce dander, as well as the presence of saliva and urine on your cat. There are some cat shampoos that are made with the intent of reducing allergens on your cat. These shampoos are sometimes available in waterless shampoo options, making them much easier to use on cats that are resistant to baths.
If you find that bathing or brushing your cat irritates your allergies too significantly, you can get a professional groomer to do the same thing for you.
6. Keep the Litter Box Clean
The more often you clean your cat’s litter box, the fewer allergens will be present for your cat to track around the home. This doesn’t just mean emptying the litter box on a regular basis, though.
You will need to empty the box and wipe it clean at least a couple of times per month to really reduce the allergens in your home. You also need to wipe down the surfaces around the litter box at least once per week, including the walls and flooring closest to the box.
If you feel like these interventions aren’t doing enough, you can also wipe your cat’s feet down once or twice per day with pet-safe wipes to reduce the allergens they spread after using the litter box.
7. Try an Allergen-Reducing Food
In the last few years, foods intended to reduce the allergens produced by your cat came onto the market. These foods won’t completely eliminate the allergens coming from your cat, but with regular feeding, they can reduce the allergens, making them easier to deal with.
These foods are available without a prescription, but they do require time to work. You will likely need at least 6 weeks of your cat only eating the food to significantly reduce the allergens produced by your cat.
8. Talk to an Allergist
While many people want a doctor’s visit to be the last resort, it does sometimes become necessary. For some people, it doesn’t matter how many changes you implement in your home, allergens can still be a significant issue. By visiting an allergist, you’ll be able to identify if your only allergy issues are related to your cat or if there are other problems at play as well.
An allergist will also be able to help you determine the best ways to reduce your body’s reaction to the presence of allergens in your home. You can discuss with them the changes you’ve already made and see if they have additional suggestions.
Living in a home with something that you’re allergic to can be difficult, especially if you’re living with a cat that has free roam of the whole household. You will need to be committed to making changes in your home to really reduce the presence of allergens to make life easier for you and your cat.
If you feel like you’re struggling to get allergies under control, talk to an allergist or other professional to determine if there are other things you can try to help make your allergy symptoms more manageable for you and the other members of your household.
Featured Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock
- 2 What Causes Cat Allergies?
- 3 Tips to Live With Cat Allergies
- 4 Conclusion