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Cats are furry, fluffy and oh-so-cute. How can you not want one, even if you're allergic? Sure, 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. Contrary to popular belief, 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. 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 are required 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 some 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.

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  • From left: Maytag M1200, Dyson V6 Absolute, Electrolux Ergorapido Lithium-Ion Brushroll Clean Xtra and Miele Complete C3 HomeCare+PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, STYLING BY ANNE CARDENAS
  • 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 are easier to clean.
  • Train cats not to climb or rest on upholstered furniture or use furniture covers that you can regularly wash.
  • Brush your cat daily. Brushing 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.


  • If you have space, build your cat a "catio", or an outdoor cat patio, where your cat can go safely outside. Letting kitty outside in a safe space allows the cat dander to fly away outside, instead of staying in your house. Plus, it's good mental stimulation for your cat.
  • Clean the litter box thoroughly and frequently. Proteins from urine are found here, which can contribute to allergies.
  • 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.
  • Bathing you cat could help, but you'd have to wash them every day for it to make a real difference, since they clean themselves all the time. And neither you or your cat want the stress of a bath every day. Instead, wipe down your cat with a pet safe wipe. This will be a lot easier for you and make your cat happier.


  • 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.
  • See an allergy specialist. They can test you for what exactly you're allergic to, as many people are allergic to more than one thing. The doctor can also give you allergy shots that can help reduce your reaction to cat dander.


Some cats cause less of a reaction than others, so if you're looking to adopt, ask the shelter for a trial run where you can see exactly how you react to the cat. 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.

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