Cat lovers would usually do anything to have at least one or two feline family members. If they find that they’re allergic to cats, however, the realization can be quite shocking. In such cases, some people may have to give up the idea of having a cat as a pet. Others may control their symptoms by getting a shot, having some prescribed pills on hand, or taking other steps to ensure that they don’t have any serious issues.
The same goes for cat lovers who have kids or other family members who have such allergies. Of course, there’s always a hope that one may grow out of their allergies. After all, kids also outgrow many food allergies that once plagued their childhood.
So is there hope for those who love cats but are allergic to them? Or will those unlucky cat lovers have to remain extra careful or even deprived of felines for the rest of their lives?
The good news is, there might be a way to decrease such allergies and lead a normal life with a feline pet. A detailed discussion is best for answering such questions, so let’s start below:
Understanding Cat Allergens
The first step towards managing your cat allergies is to understand what causes them. It’s actually a misconception that these allergies are caused by the cat’s hair. It’s actually the dander, urine, and saliva that are more to blame. These carry a certain kind of protein that someone’s system may not be able to tolerate.
Since most cats groom themselves with their tongue quite frequently, the offending protein gets stuck on their hair. This is why cat’s hair is usually deemed to be the culprit in causing allergies. Long-haired cats are usually a high risk for people with allergies, but not always. It all depends on how much a cat species grooms itself and how much of the allergy-triggering protein their body produces.
How We Can Decrease Allergens From Cats
We can cope with cats living in our homes even while we’re allergic to them, but this means setting certain boundaries.
First of all, stop the cats from sleeping on your bed. This is especially important when you’re suffering from symptoms of allergies. If the symptoms are under control for now, you might be able to invite the cats back on the bed for some time.
It’s actually best if you keep your cats out of the bedroom completely. Close the door so that the allergens don’t float inside. If the allergens get into your bedding or pillows, they could create havoc.
Speaking of bedding, you should be washing yours with hot water at least twice a month. This will take care of both the cat allergens and the dust mites that flare up your allergies.
Just a few other precautions include:
- Using HEPA air filters for the rooms that your cats are allowed in.
- Use a good vacuum that has a high-grade HEPA filter inside.
- Vacuum the carpet, chairs, sofas, flooring, and even the walls at least twice a week. Utilize the hand tools to get at every single corner.
- A vapor steam cleaner will also come in handy, as they kill off the cat protein that causes your allergies to kick in. Plus, you get rid of the dust and allergens without the use of any chemicals.
If you suffer from cat allergies but adore cats, the home maintenance tips above will help you create a safe balance. The next step is to take care in how you handle your cat.
Precautions in Handling Cats
Someone with cat allergies can keep a pet cat, but they should know what steps to take so that the allergens don’t affect them too much. These include the following:
- You can pet your cat, but make sure to wash your hands right away after that. Use an antibacterial soap for this purpose, and avoid putting your hands on your eyes, mouth, and nose in general.
- Cleaning or washing the cat can rescue the number of cat allergens floating around. Frequent brushing is recommended, as cats wouldn’t feel the need to lick themselves so much if they’re already clean.
- If you see visible dander on your cat’s coat, dampen a microfiber cloth and rub the cat down with it. This is a great alternative to a bath, which can be scary for your kitty.
- As a last resort, try keeping your cat to just one room or area of your home. This might be a very difficult decision, but it would at least prevent you from having to give up the cat.
- Anti-allergy wipes, shampoos and other cleaning products might be of help here if your cat allows their use.
- Immunotherapy shots might be necessary if the issue doesn’t go away soon.
Developing an Immunity
There’s yet another piece of information that could make cat lovers very happy. Word on the street is that some people might actually develop immunity to certain cats, especially if they live with them long enough.
This phenomenon will sound perfect to a cat-allergic cat enthusiast, but they should be prepared to suffer a bit to make this happen. They might feel like they have a really bad cold or the flu for some months. After that, their bodies just might develop an immunity to their furry friend.
However, it’s best to consult a doctor before you try out any experiment like this. You don’t know just how severe your allergies could be, so an expert opinion will set you on the right track.
Many people who suffer from allergies as adults also had them when they were babies. These include food allergies, pet allergies, and hay fever (which we may call a pollen allergy). However, there are several individuals who grow out of such allergies.
Doctors aren’t really sure about the cause of these disappearing allergies. Even if the condition doesn’t fade completely, the symptoms might precede very significantly.
There’s also evidence that shows how allergic reactions can differ from person to person. The severity of your allergies might be different from one season to another as well. Sometimes, all it takes is getting the right breed of cat, and you can enjoy your new furry friend without any worries.
At the end of the day, those with allergies can’t sit back and relax for good. Even those who outgrow food allergies have to stay a bit careful, as such conditions have been known to return.
Plus, even if you’ve developed an immunity to your own cat, stay wary of others. The allergies might flare up with renewed strength once you’re around a new cat. It might be best to stick with your own house cat/cats and forget about visits to the animal shelter.
It’s also important to note here that the idea of exposure therapy is not one to take lightly. It’s not recommended that we try out such methods without consulting a proper doctor first. Once we get the go-ahead from an expert who knows our medical history, we can proceed much more safely than before.
If watery, red eyes, continuous sneezing, and other problematic symptoms crop up whenever you’re near a cat, don’t shun the thought of a feline pet just yet. There are several ways to get around those allergies and some chances of outgrowing them as well. At the end of the day, people with cat allergies are able to keep such pets and still lead fairly normal lifestyles.