4 Tips For Keeping Cats When You’re Allergic

Written by: Adri Sandoval
Adri Sandoval is the Special Projects Manager for iHeartDogs and iHeartCats. Her work has deepened her love for animals, fostering a strong passion for rescue and animal advocacy.Read more
| Published on August 19, 2017

Have you always wanted a cat, but you’re allergic? Maybe your kids or significant other want a cat. Allergies don’t have to mean a strict ban on pet ownership. The good news is that there are things you can do to alleviate your symptoms enough to live with a cat.

Keep in mind that these techniques may be best for those with only mild to moderate cat allergies, and you should decide whether or not you’re willing to do the following things in order to enjoy a relationship with a cat before bringing one into your home. It’s not fair to the cat to return them to the shelter because you’re tired of vacuuming, and it’s always a good idea to discuss matters that will affect your health with your primary care doctor.

With that being said, here are 4 tips for keeping a cat when you’re allergic to them.

#1 – Keep your house clean

Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t cat hair that people are allergic to, it’s a protein in their dander and saliva that causes symptoms. The less dander has the chance to accumulate, the fewer symptoms you’ll suffer.

Changing soft surfaces that dander can cling to for smoother surfaces that are easily dusted can also have a huge impact on how comfortable you may be sharing your home with a cat. For example, switching curtains to mini blinds, carpet to hardwood or vinyl flooring, and upholstered furniture to leather can reduce the amount of places for dander to build up, making it easier to keep your symptoms at bay. Your vacuum cleaner should have a HEPA filter on it. An air purifier with a HEPA filter may also help, as long as you find a model that doesn’t release dangerous ozone.  

#2- Keep your hands clean

Frequently washing your hands and face, especially after petting your cat, can help reduce your symptoms and is more effective than trying to keep the cat free of dander.

#3 – Keep your cat wiped down

Giving your cat a full bath will only reduce the amount of dander they produce for a few days at most. Since washing your cat twice a week may be too traumatic for both of you, wiping them down with pet wipes once or twice a day can help remove dander from your cat before it falls into the environment and causes your nose to run or eyes to water.

#4 – Try medication

For mild allergies, an over-the-counter medication may help reduce your symptoms when taken every day. If that isn’t enough, you may want to consider talking to your doctor about a prescription medication or allergy shots.

Allergy shots are a pretty serious commitment that help your body build up immunity to cat dander. They must be done once a week to start, then once a month. It can take 3-5 years of regular shots to build up immunity and reduce or eliminate your symptoms.

(H/T: The Spruce, PetFinder, WebMD Pets)

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