Do you develop a skin rash or suffer from itchiness when interacting with your feline companion? Chances are you belong to the estimated 2% percent of the U.S. population who are allergic to cats. Yet, like the third of that number, you decided to keep your feline friend.
Truth to be told, the cat’s hair or fur isn’t the culprit. People with cat allergies are sensitive to Fel d 1, a protein that cats produce in the saliva, dander, and urine. While you may not eliminate your skin allergy symptoms completely, here are some helpful tips on how you can manage it, make your home a comfortable space, and enjoy the lifelong companionship of your beloved feline.
Make your bedroom a cat-free zone.
Though you may be fond of snuggling with your cat in bed, it’s best to keep your kitty out of your bedroom to lessen the allergens in your room. Start your allergen reduction regime by washing all bedding, pillows, and drapes. Alternatively, you may use allergen-proof bedding covers which can block cat dander, as well as bed bugs and dust mites. Just be mindful that the size of cat allergen particles varies from 1 to 20 microns. Devote extra patience as it may take a few months for the number of allergens to dwindle.
Vacuum and dust regularly.
Regular vacuuming and dusting is an excellent way to keep feline dander inside your home at a minimum. Thus, reducing exposure to your skin. Dust at least once a week using dusting cloths or damp ones where necessary to trap particles. For vacuuming, doing it once or twice a week is the best option. However, cat dander particles may pass through a regular vacuum filter, which means it can blow up the allergens into the air and aggravate your skin allergy. To avoid such, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter instead as it’s effective at removing ultrafine particles in the home.
Improve air quality.
Cat allergens are so small they can float in the air for so long, and eventually settle to hard surfaces. That’s why it’s vital to improve the air quality inside your home. Use an air cleaner with a HEPA filter to remove as many allergens present. Open your windows and doors from time to time to increase the ventilation and help keep allergens out. Just be sure to catproof your home first before doing so keep your kitty safe and sound indoors.
Remove rugs and carpets.
Rugs and carpets are great additions to your home due to a variety of reasons like making your home comfy and cozy, providing a new look, or decreasing noise. The drawback is that these flooring materials are incredible allergen traps and can contribute to your skin allergy attacks. They can harbor cat dander a hundred times more, so giving them up helps prevent the accumulation of cat allergens.
You can replace wall-to-wall carpets with laminate, tile, or hardwood flooring to reduce the amount of cat dander in your home. If you can’t let go of your soft flooring, have your rugs and carpets cleaned on a regular basis to avoid cat dander from building up.
Get your cat groomed.
Though felines are the epitome of cleanliness, human intervention can immensely help make them even cleaner for better allergy control. Ask any member of your family or household who isn’t allergic to cats to brush your cat outside using a fine-tooth comb and wipe her after with a damp sponge or quick cleansing wipes. Both are effective grooming methods that can get rid of loose dander and avoid it from dispersing inside your home.
Clean the cat box.
As your cat’s urine is also a source of allergen, it’s best to clean her litter box regularly to help minimize allergic reactions from your skin. While you may not have direct contact to the cat box, your feline companion can spread these allergens as she goes in and outside the litter box. If possible, pick a litter brand that’s less dusty, which doesn’t only reduce the amount of litter your cat takes using her paws but also does an excellent job at controlling odors.
Often, allergies rarely come in a single package. That means that other allergens, such as dust, pollen, dust mites, and mold are contributing to the problem, too. So, get tested. An allergist can identify which allergens are you sensitive to, all by simply pricking into your skin.
With that, you can tackle the whole picture and not just a part of it. For instance, you can bear your skin allergy during winter, but not during spring when trees, grasses, and weeds release pollen. As allergens combine together, symptoms worsen, making it intolerable.
Also, don’t miss out on asking about the nature of your allergies. Where are you more allergic to? Is it your cat’s dander or saliva? Having such information will help you make more appropriate steps to mitigate the problem.
Your allergy specialist can also help you determine which medicines to take for your skin allergy. Prescription and over-the-counter histamines are available which may not be able to eradicate your allergy, but will do wonders in reducing the symptoms. Taking antioxidants like vitamins C and E will also do you great as they reduce the severity of allergic reactions. When exposed to triggers, these antioxidants work by taming down the body’s overreaction and histamine production.
Build up resistance.
There isn’t any cure for cat allergies yet, so one of the best ways to go other than minimizing exposure and reducing allergens is by building up your resistance. You can opt for immunotherapy, which entails getting allergy shots at regular injections over a certain period, generally around three to five years. Some individuals who have undergone have experienced noticeable improvement of 80-90% for certain allergens.
Consider “hypoallergenic” cat breeds.
If your love for cats is insurmountable and would still like to keep one as a loving companion despite your skin allergy, you can consider getting a hypoallergenic breed. Well, no cat is truly hypoallergenic, but some breeds are deemed to be helpful to those with allergies as these felines produce fewer allergens than the others. Few ones you should consider include the Sphynx, Devon Rex, Cornish Rex, Siberian, Balinese, Javanese, and Oriental Shorthair.
That’s the rundown of the things to do to cope with your skin allergy to cats. Remember that the process won’t happen overnight. Just be consistent and you’ll see a huge, positive difference, making both ends meet, keeping your skin rich and healthy, while living happily with your feline best friend.