Cats are awesome! They make for great company. They make us feel good. And despite their persnickety personalities at times, they fill a place in our hearts. They are wonderful additions to the family. But what if you or someone in your family suffers from cat allergies? That could be a huge problem.
It can be highly upsetting when someone in the family develops an allergic reaction to cats. It has been reported that between six million and 10 million Americans are allergic to pets, and cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies.
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What Causes Cat Allergies?
Cat allergies come from something called Fel d1, which is a protein found in the saliva of cats and in their skin. When a cat cleans himself, this protein becomes airborne and seeks out a warm and moist place in which to live, usually finding that sweet spot in the eyes and the nose.
Frequently, a parent may not even realize a child has an allergy to a pet until that child becomes a toddler. My son never had allergies to pets until he was about three years old, and then BOOM! Sneeze, sniffle, snort….there it was! And if he ever snuggled with one of our pets and then rubbed his eyes, it was disastrous.
However, if you have a family member allergic to your cat, don’t despair. There are effective strategies to employ to help that family member – and the cat! – live well together.
Methods To Combat Cat Allergies
Confirm The Allergy
Ensure the reaction is to the aforementioned feline protein and not something else. Consider the possibility it could be common allergies, such as mold or dust mites. Schedule a visit to your family doctor to undergo some allergy testing to determine what exactly the suspected allergy is.
Regular Cleaning Schedule
Routinely wash all sheets, blankets, pillows and drapes in the affected family member’s bedroom. My pediatrician advised me to do this weekly….yes, even the pillows and stuffed animals! Over time, you should notice a difference.
If possible, restrict your cat’s access to the allergy sufferer’s room by keeping the door closed when it’s not occupied.
Replace carpet with a hard surface. Carpet collects allergens, and even though you might vacuum, it really only blows around those allergens. Alternatively, you can use a vacuum cleaner that uses a HEPA filter. Further, steam clean on a regular basis.
Use Air Purifier
Use an air purifier with a HEPA filter, as this will help clear the air of allergens.
Clean Cat On Regular Basis
Bathe/clean your cat on a regular basis. Granted, many cats will not take too kindly to this. If your cat is hates baths, opt for non-toxic cleaning wipes. Cleaning your cat will not necessarily remove all the allergens, but it will reduce them.
Wash Face and Hands After Interacting With Cat
When a guest or family member with allergies touches or pets your cat, instruct them to immediately wash face and hands afterwards. If those unwashed hands go directly to the face, chaos could ensue!
Wash Cat Beds and Toys Regularly
Wash the cat beds and toys regularly. Find beds and toys that can be machine washed. Wash any plastic toys in the dishwasher using hot water.
Consider Allergy Medications
Medication might work, especially with children. Discuss this with your doctor first. Some medications have side effects worse than the actual allergies.