Sometimes in life, we come across pairs that seem a little unusual: pineapple on pizza, Danny Devito and Arnold Schwarzenegger playing twins, Cardi B and Nicki Minaj collaborating on Motorsport, and cats with owners that are allergic to them. If you fall into the last category, a cat lover who suffers from cat allergies, you are not alone! People are twice as likely to develop allergies to cats versus dogs. However, it doesn’t stop cat lovers with allergies from adopting their beloved cats (nor should it!). You are probably wondering what causes cat allergies and how to reduce them. We at PrettyLitter, came up with an easy guide to follow to help you better reduce allergens while living a happy life with your kitties!
Allergens are tiny proteins released from the oil of your cat’s skin, saliva, urine, and pet dander. One of the first things you should do to reduce cat allergens in your home is to make sure certain areas are designated as “allergen-free” zones, aka “cat-free” zones. This means your bedroom (we know, we’re sorry!), but the best way to reduce allergens is to keep them out of your bedroom altogether.
Another step to reducing airborne allergens in your home is to cover your vents in a dense material that filters the air from airborne allergens, such as cheesecloth.
Speaking of air, HEPA air filters are your new best friends. These “high-efficiency particulate air” filters will significantly reduce allergens in your ventilation systems. Additionally, using an air purifier with a HEPA filter in spaces your cats frequent can shrink the concentration of allergens 5 to 7 times.
If possible, you should invest in smooth flooring (ie: hardwood, tile, linoleum). Carpets can store vast amounts of allergens like cat hair and dander particles. These are 13 times more likely to capture and contain allergens than smooth flooring. Trade-in curtains for blinds and upholstered furniture for smooth, easy-to-clean furniture. Remember: curtains, carpets, upholstered furniture are magnets for cat hair, dust mites,and pet dander!
Clean, Clean, Clean Your Home
- Remember to wear a mask while cleaning (we know you have a few lying around).
- Wash your hands after every time you handle your cat’s fur. (Shower frequently too.)
- Wipe down all smooth surfaces regularly, including walls and floors.
- Ventilation is key! Open up your windows.
- Wash and soak all bedding in 140-degree water twice a month (this kills allergens and dust mites).
- Vacuum with a HEPA filter.
- Steam clean any curtains, upholstered furniture, carpets two to three times a week.
- Avoid brooms and switch to a Swiffer because “static-cleaning” captures allergens while “dry-cleaning” scatters them into the air.
Clean, Clean, Clean Your Cat
Keeping your cat clean and healthy will lower the number of allergen levels produced.
- Neutered and spayed cats actually have decreased pet allergen production!
- Avoid having a high number of cats in your home (This is also where spaying and neutering come in!).
- Brush your cat’s fur frequently, especially in the spring! (when she’s shedding her winter coat).
- Invest in hypo-allergenic cat litter! (If only you knew a healthy and hypoallergenic brand of cat litter, oh wait!) PrettyLitter is an odorless and dust free cat litter made from clean and effective minerals.
- Frequently wash your cat’s bedding and litter box!
- If possible, bathe your cat weekly (some cats won’t let you, but others might! Go ahead and try!)
- An alternative to bathing your cat is to wipe your cat’s saliva and dander from her fur with cleansing wipes. This way is less stressful for cats who don’t enjoy being bathed in a bathtub.
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Contrary to popular belief, truly hypoallergenic house cats don’t exist. Every cat produces the proteins/allergens that affect an allergy sufferer. Some cats just produce them less than others: the shorter your cat’s hair, the better for your allergy symptoms. A hairless cat is even better!
The Sphinx: a totally hairless cat is probably the best choice for a sneeze-free cat. Not only are they fully hairless, but they’re also very affectionate. However, they are rare cats and can be quite expensive.
- Other shorthaired breeds that are good at keep allergen levels low are:
- Balinese, Cornish Rex, Devon Rex, and Siberian
Seek Medical Help
Some people will develop immunity to their cat allergies over time (lucky them!). However, the opposite could happen with prolonged exposure to allergens and actually worsen your allergies. If this is the case, seek medical help. An allergist can prescribe you a range of anti-allergy options like antihistamines, nasal sprays, decongestants, nasal irrigation, and immunotherapy.
Don’t let pesky allergy symptoms get in the way of loving your cats. Take it from Dr. Sandra Mitchell, DVM. She’s a veterinarian who was severely allergic to cats. Her doctors told her that she would most likely have to change her profession because of how allergic she was, but nevertheless, she persisted. Eventually, she found an allergist who understood that caring for pets, especially cats, was her passion and would not stop. She eventually housed upwards of 15 cats while living with her allergies (we don’t recommend that). Today, she doesn’t need her respiratory mask to work and takes medicine to manage her current symptoms. Flare-ups occur every now and then, but she’s living proof that living with cats and allergies CAN be done. With some trial, error, and some sneezes, you’ll figure out what works for you and your cat!