Living with Cat Allergies
Simple Home Solutions that Help An estimated 10 percent of Americans are allergic to household pets, with sensitivities to cats twice as common as to dogs, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Simple Home Solutions that Help
An estimated 10 percent of Americans are allergic to household pets, with sensitivities to cats twice as common as to dogs, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Most people with cat allergies react to Fel d 1, a protein found on cat skin, although other cat allergens are found on the fur, in saliva and even in their urine, reports a study in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
The tiny Fel d 1 protein attached to a piece of airborne cat hair or skin can linger in the air for hours—much longer than a similarly released dog allergen. It’s also sticky, readily attaching to human skin and clothing, and can even easily transfer to cat-free public locations such as a classroom.
Male cats tend to produce more of this allergenic protein than females, especially if they’re not neutered. However, all cats produce the Fel d 1 protein, and it’s unrelated to the amount of feline dander or shedding. Thus, no truly hypoallergenic cat breed exists, yet some breeds may be better for allergic pet lovers, say Austrian researchers in a study published in the journal Clinical and Translational Allergy.
Many people are able to build up tolerance to their kitty over time. Before starting a relationship, first ensure the allergy is not severe. If allergy symptoms are more of a nuisance than a serious health threat, some options can help minimize the problem at home:
- Consider making the bedroom of any affected family member a cat-free zone.
- Purchase a high-quality air purifier to clean the air of allergens and other pollutants.
- To prevent a buildup of allergens indoors, replace carpeting with hard flooring and drapes and curtains with non-fabric window coverings and if possible, avoid upholstered furniture.
- Clean the house often and thoroughly, including any surfaces that trap pet hair and dander like couch covers, pillows, bedding and pet beds.
- Wash bed linens at least weekly in hot water.
- Wash hands after handling the cat. After snuggling together, consider taking a shower and shampoo before retiring in order to avoid bringing kitty allergens to bed.
- Feed kitty an anti-inflammatory (grain-free), balanced and species-appropriate diet. Reducing or eliminating the allergenic and genetically modified (GMO) foods a cat eats reduces the allergenic quality of their saliva.
- Ensure optimal levels of essential fatty acids in their diet to reduce shedding and dander.
- Bathe the cat regularly, taking care to use only a safe, non-drying herbal animal shampoo.
Karen Shaw Becker, a doctor of veterinary medicine, is a proactive integrative practitioner who consults internationally and writes for Mercola Healthy Pets (HealthyPets.Mercola.com).