How to Clear Cat Allergies

Cat allergies–and allergies to other animals–occur when your body’s immune system mistakenly identifies the proteins in the animal’s dander, saliva and urine as harmful invaders. Symptoms of cat allergies can range from sneezing, itchy eyes and a runny nose to more problematic symptoms, such wheezing and shortness of breath. Because the minuscule cat allergens are light and airborne, they can stick to any surface in your home, making environmental control extremely important.

Cat Allergy Help

Make sure that your allergic symptoms truly are caused by cats. The Humane Society of the United States notes that many people with pet allergies are allergic to more than just one type of allergen. Before you blame your symptoms on the resident feline, make sure that you are specifically tested for cat allergies. Allergy testing can be conducted through blood testing or more expediently through a skin-prick test.

Avoid cats as much as you can. According to the Mayo Clinic, this is the first-line treatment for those who suffer allergic reactions to companion animals. However, if you have a pet cat or contemplating becoming a cat guardian, the benefits of sharing your life with your feline companion may outweigh the drawbacks of allergies. (HSUS advises prospective cat guardians to carefully assess if they can live with–and control–their allergies should they bring a new cat into the home.)

Take medications recommended by your doctor to control cat allergies. These may include over-the-counter or prescription medications–antihistamines, decongestants, nasal corticosteroids and asthma medications that are formulated for long-term control of allergies or quick relief.

Consider immunotherapy (allergy injections) as an option to medication. Injections are typically received once or twice a week, exposing patients to small amounts of allergens that gradually increases during the next three to six months. Maintenance shots may be required once or twice a month for three to five years, notes the Mayo Clinic.

Allergens in the Home

Replace and/or remove carpeting and upholstered furniture. The Mayo Clinic notes that pet dander is very difficult to remove from these soft surfaces. If a cat no longer resides in the home, consider replacing carpeting, reupholstering furniture and purchasing new drapery. If you plan to keep your pet, bare floors and walls are best. Remove carpeting and replace it with tile or linoleum; remove fabric drapes and opt for horizontal blinds; choose non-upholstered furniture over fabric-covered furniture.

Invest in a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air filter, should you choose to keep carpeting and upholstered furniture. Remember to wear a dust mask when you vacuum, as vacuuming stirs up dander and other allergens.

Control cat dander in your bedroom. If a cat no longer resides in the home, the Mayo Clinic advises purchasing new bed linens, pillows and mattresses. But if you choose to keep your pet, consider using impermeable barriers on pillows and mattresses (mattress pads and pillow covers).

Reduce cat allergens in the air. Use of HEPA air filters can trap small airborne particles. Alternately, HEPA or electrostatic air cleaners can also remove cat dander.

Cat Care

Create zones in your home where your cat is not permitted to roam. The HSUS advises prohibiting your pet from entry into your bedroom.

Bathe your pet weekly. According to HSUS, this can reduce the presence of allergy-causing dander by as much as 84 percent. Make sure to use shampoos formulated for cats or kittens–preferably those recommended by your veterinarian or an animal care professional. Cats can become accustomed to regular bathings; however, you can also take your pet to a professional groomer.

Brush your cat regularly to remove dander. This task, as well as bathing and other routine maintenance (such as changing the litter box) should be delegated to someone without cat allergies.

Cat allergies--and allergies to other animals--occur when your body's immune system mistakenly identifies the proteins in the animal's dander