Is It Possible to Own a Cat If You’re Allergic?
You love cats and would love to have one in your home. Who doesn't?
But sadly, you're allergic to them. What's a furry pet lover to do?
Turns out, there is good news. As long as your allergy isn't severe and doesn't cause you to go into anaphylactic shock or have an asthma attack, there are some things you can do to make your pet ownership less... sneezy.
There really isn't be any reason why you can't adopt a feline. Cat and Claritin lovers rejoice! Here's what you should do before adopting a new furry friend.
Identify Your Allergy
Before you pick out a kitty you need to talk with an allergy specialist to know specifically what you're allergic to. There are two very common causes of cat allergies:
- A glycoprotein called Fel D1 that's released in the cat's saliva
- Cat dander which is basically dead skin cells shed by the kitty
Once you discover what the allergen is you can choose your type of fur baby. For instance, there are a couple of breeds with very low levels of Fel D1; likewise, if the specialist finds you're allergic to the dander, there are breeds that have thinner coats.
An allergy specialist can also help lessen allergy symptoms by providing you with medication, holistic treatments and immunotherapy if need be.
Exchange Curtains for Blinds
Allergens feel quite at home on fabrics and can stay within them for over a year.
So it's best that you replace your curtains with blinds which have a harder surface. Allergens find it difficult to cling to these and caring for blinds is much easier and hassle-free; just wipe with a damp cloth once a week.
But if you don't want to part with your curtains, at least throw them in your washer once a month.
Purchase a Vacuum with a HEPA filter
As mentioned above, allergens love fabrics; this makes area rugs, upholstered furniture and carpets a perfect place for them to hide. So vacuuming your furniture and carpets each week is necessary when you have cat allergies—and don't forget about furniture coverings, throws and throw pillows and cat beds.
However, it shouldn't be your job to vacuum as it'll make your allergy worse; but if you don't have the option of someone else using your HEPA vacuum cleaner, be sure to put on a dust mask and goggles if your eyes are affected too.
Make an Allergy-Free Area
There should be at least one room in your home that's clearly off-limits to your furry friend—maybe your bedroom or the room you'll use as her transition room. Buying a HEPA air purifier for this room (and the rest of your house) is also a great idea.
Speaking of filters, don't forget you're air conditioning and heating filters will need replacing every 1-3 months; or maybe they're the type of filter you can just wash thoroughly. Likewise, it's equally important that your air ducts are cleaned every 3-7 years.
Choosing the Ideal Breed
Now that you've done all those things, you're ready to pick your cat—but choose carefully.
There are actually a couple of breeds that are great for people who are allergic to Fel D1. These two breeds have an extremely low level of this protein:
If you suffer from an allergy to cat dander, there are several breeds that have fewer layers of fur. This is great for you since that's less fur and dander flying through the air in your home. The breeds are:
Once you've adopted the perfect kitty for you and your allergy, there are a couple of other things you'll need to do to make sure you don't experience any—or hardly any—symptoms.
Bathe Your Feline
To significantly decrease the level of cat dander, bathe your princess once a week. Not to worry, she'll get used to having a bath. Just talk it over with us here at South Boston Animal Hospital first as we'll inform you of the right shampoo for her and give you safe bathing instructions. If possible, bring your tabby to a groomer and let them do the work. For cats that are tough to bathe frequently simply wipe them down bath wipes regularly to ensure healthy skin and coat and keep the dander at bay.
Another thing that can really helps pet parents with cat allergies is to start the cat on an omega fatty acid supplement. Omega fatty acids will significantly reduce the amount of dander the cat produces, thus reducing the allergens that make you itch and sneeze.
Scoop Out the Litter Box
Most cat litter is dusty and the cat's feces and urine have allergens; thus, someone with a cat allergy or asthma could have a bad reaction to them. So to keep the symptoms down clean the litter box every day, change the litter and wash the box every week and make sure the litter box is in a well ventilated spot.
Another thing you can do to reduce symptoms is to look for a litter that's made specifically for cats or people with respiratory problems; or buying a dust-free litter like newspaper or pine pellets might work better for you.
With your new family addition, you're sure to develop a strong bond and lifetime of love—and you won't be sneezing and wheezing. Contact us when you get your soon-to-be cherished kitty so we can help you keep her healthy for her entire life.
About Dr. Natalie Waggener
Dr. Natalie Waggener has 17 years of experience in emergency work and general practice in Rhode Island, Florida and Massachusetts. She has a special interest in dentistry, wellness care and rehabilitation therapy. She is currently licensed in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.