So you want a cat, but someone at your house is allergic, and they sneeze or have itchy eyes. What can you do? Well, several things can make a big difference.
First, test their allergies to different cat breeds at a shelter. In addition, you can keep the cat only on hardwood floors, use leather/vinyl furniture, vacuum and often clean, use HEPA vacuums and purifiers, groom and wash the cat, take allergy meds, and don’t let them into your bed.
All of this is explained in more detail further below, as well as how to reduce/eliminate cat allergies.
Can You Live With a Cat if You’re Allergic?
A cat allergy means you are allergic to one or more proteins in a cat’s saliva. Cats lick themselves, getting the protein all over their fur, then shed, releasing the allergen into the environment.
Because it’s so light and sticky, it floats around for a while before settling over every surface in your home, including the floor, furniture, and curtains.
While every person is different, and you should consult your doctor before getting a cat, there are ways to live with a cat while allergic. You can do many things to reduce allergen exposure and modify your home to help you with this.
How to Remove Cat Allergens in Your Home?
Regardless of the type of cat you get, there are many things you can do to reduce cat allergens at home.
Keep the cat on the hardwood floors, and avoid letting the cat walk in the rooms with rugs and carpets on them.
Only use leather or vinyl upholstery. Fabrics draw in allergens. A cotton couch will accumulate allergens for decades, whereas you can quickly wipe down a leather couch.
Vacuum and clean frequently. While no cleaning will eliminate all allergens, you can dramatically lessen your exposure. Avoid sweeping or using a vacuum with a bag. You’ll introduce more allergens into the air than you’ll remove.
Get a HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner. This is especially critical if you are unable to remove carpets. HEPA vacuums are more expensive than standard vacuums, but they take in allergens and trap them, whereas traditional vacuums expel them back into the air.
Consider buying HEPA air purifiers. These are little electronic devices that filter out airborne allergens. Some are exceptionally good at what they do and will significantly help with allergens.
If you have a visitor allergic to cats, wash the sheets and don’t let the cats in the room they’re staying in for a time.
Grooming your cat is essential, so try brushing it frequently. This not only helps with hairballs, but it also keeps hair from floating around and getting trapped on clothes/furniture.
Also, try bathing the cat once a week or so in the first few weeks. Bathing a cat is often not required. However, you can do it occasionally. Under the sink is the best place to do it, with gentle water flowing on the back of the cat’s head.
Don’t use soap because it can deplete their natural oils, but a short rinse will remove the majority of allergens from their coat. Wiping down a cat with a moist washcloth daily can help minimize fur dander and is an acceptable substitute for bathing. There are many more tips to minimize cat hair in your home..
Keep your cat away from common areas where the allergic person spends most of their time. If your spouse or wife is allergic to cats, keep the cat out of the bedroom. For years, allergens could be trapped in your bed.
Purchase allergy medications in consultation with your doctor because they often benefit some people.
Alternatives to Getting a Cat When Someone Is Allergic
If you have decided that you cannot get a cat after extensive search and exposure, you could try a few alternative options.
You could foster kittens and cats. Typically, the criterion for fostering is keeping the animal in its own room while staying with you. This way, the cat will be separated from others and will not be exposed to allergens throughout the house.
If you are allergic, fostering is also a fantastic chance to test your allergies with different cats to discover which one causes the least.
You could also volunteer at shelters and organizations. You may help the animals by socializing them, driving them to vet appointments, etc. You donate some volunteer hours to the rescue center every week, and you get some kitten time.
Is There a Medicine That You Can Take for Cat Allergy?
Antihistamines assist decrease itching, sneezing, and runny nose by reducing the production of an immune system chemical active in allergic reactions.
Mild pet allergy symptoms are best treated with antihistamines such as Allegra, Xyzal, Zyrtec, and Claritin. Prescription nasal spray antihistamines include azelastine (Astelin, Astepro) and olopatadine (Patanase).
Which Cat Breeds Cause the Least Allergies?
All cats produce allergens, some more than others, and it’s tough to predict which cat out of a group will be more likely to bother the allergies.
Remember that there’s no such thing as a 100% hypoallergenic cat. With that in mind, Siberian cats are one of the best choices out of all cat breeds. They have a lower Fel D1 in their saliva, making allergy sufferers react significantly less.
However, they cost thousands of dollars. Most breeders will do allergy tests and will let you visit their house to see how your allergies are. Therefore, you can take someone to the breeder and have them tested for allergies.
Keep in mind that kittens produce fewer allergens than adult cats. So even if you adopted a Siberian kitten and thought how your allergies aren’t acting up, the kitty could then mature, and suddenly you’d have a problem. This is why you should test your allergies before getting a cat.
Can You Eliminate a Cat Allergy? (do they go away)
If you’re considering obtaining a cat, but someone in your family is allergic, you should consult your doctor first to see the type of allergy. Cat allergies can sometimes fade with time, depending on the person, the medicine, and the cat breed.
One thing that has been studied recently is injection shots for cat allergies. They give you a small dosage of the allergen, and your body gains immunity by producing antibodies. Over time, constant exposure via injections creates immunity. It can lead to more effective relief that continues a year after treatment ends.
There are numerous examples of people improving with time with exposure to cats. Sometimes you’ll only stop being allergic to that specific cat, but if you pet another cat, you’ll get an allergic reaction.
In immunology, it is well-known that you might become tolerant of things you’re allergic to due to repeated exposure mixed with a signal to “not activate.” In the case of cat allergies, exposure and antihistamines can help. It’s a frequent technique that our bodies utilize to adapt to different environments.
Suppose you’ve tested many cats and discovered that the allergy persists after extensive exposure. In that scenario, you should be prepared that no amount of HEPA air purifiers, medicine, vacuuming, special allergen wipes, or other steps will make owning a cat possible for you.
Please do not jeopardize your health if this occurs. Fostering an adult cat is the best option for you. This way, you can take different cats on ‘trial runs’ to see if you can locate a cat that is gentler on your allergies or that you don’t respond to.
How to build immunity to cat allergies?
While there are no cure-all vaccines for cat allergies, you can obtain allergy shots that gradually expose your body to higher amounts of cat antigens. Eventually, this leads to the immune system tolerating the harmless cat proteins, and your allergies may disappear.
Can you develop a cat allergy in your adult life?
Cat allergies can occur even after you reach adulthood. If you haven’t been exposed to a cat in a long time and the symptoms appear, you may have a cat allergy. The symptoms may appear immediately after petting a cat or hours afterward.
Can you be allergic to cats but not dogs?
Yes, you can be allergic to cats but not dogs, and vice versa. Because each animal produces varying levels of the protein to which you are allergic, you may have an adverse allergic reaction to one cat but not the other or be allergic to a cat but not a dog.