Living with That Darn CatCats are furry, fluffy and so cute. But what do you do if your cat makes you sick? Well, common sense would dictate that if something makes you sick, you should stay away from it. But people don't always use their common sense when it comes to their pets. An estimated 6 million Americans are allergic to cats. Symptoms of a cat allergy include coughing, wheezing, hives or rash on the face and chest, runny or stuffy nose, and red, itchy eyes. There may also be redness in the area where a cat bites, scratches, or licks you. A cat's fur is not the source of the allergy. The allergens are a result of the proteins in the cat's saliva, urine, and in the dander, which are the dry skin flakes that the cat sheds. No one wants to give up a beloved pet, so luckily there are things you can do so that you and your cat can live together.
Minimize Cat Dander
If you have a cat, diligence and perseverance is required in order for the amount of dander in the home to be minimized. Regular cleaning is the key. The following cleaning and cat care tips should significantly cut down on amount of allergens in the home and help reduce cat danger allergies.
- Wipe down smooth surfaces regularly.
- Vacuum frequently and use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. These filters drastically cut down the amount of dust, pollens and cat dander blown out into the air from the vacuum.
- Restrict your cat's access to certain areas of the home. There should be "allergy free" zones such as bedrooms.
- Rooms with hardwood floors will contain fewer allergens, and these floors can be cleaned very easily.
- Train cats not to climb or rest on upholstered furniture.
- Brush your cat regularly. This will keep loose fur from getting in the air. It is also a good idea to let someone who is not allergic to do the brushing outside.
- Clean the litter box thoroughly and frequently. Proteins from urine are found here.
- Keep your cat's skin healthy. Feed quality foods, and if your cat's skin appears dry, consult with your vet about feeding the cat a supplement.
- Install HEPA filters in your air returns. These filter our more cat allergens than the regular kind.
- Bathe your cat once a month. Most cats do not like water, but it still may be advantageous to bathe the cat. A bath will remove dander from the cat's skin and fur. Be sure to use a shampoo specially formulated for cats.
- Wash your cat's bedding. Use water with a temperature of at least 140 degrees.
- A vapor steam cleaner is recommended for cleaning surfaces in the home. It is chemical free and steam kills bacteria on contact.
- To filter out allergens from the air, use an air purifier at least 4 hours per day.
- Wash your hands after petting the cat or handling its toys.
In many cases, cats are more than just pets. They are companions and friends. With a little work, having a cat in the home with an allergic person can work. The cat and the cat owner are sure to think it's worth the extra effort.