Allergic to Cats: Coping with Cat Allergies

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Some people have cat allergies to felines like this short-hair tabby

Have you developed allergy symptoms and you think your cat might be the source? Cat dander (tiny particles of dry skin), rather than fur, is the culprit behind an allergic reaction to felines. It can cause common allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes, sneezing, a runny or stuffy nose, coughing, wheezing, and hives or rash.

Many people feel forced to give up their cat or dog when they develop allergies. Before you take such a drastic step, you might want to try some or all of the following:

  • Have an allergy test done to see if you are actually allergic to the animal. Though your pet may seem the likely cause of your distress, a medical specialist may be able to pinpoint the source more accurately.
  • Keep the animal out of your bedroom, especially at night.
  • Try one of the allergy relief products available at pet supply stores and over the internet. For example, you can buy pre-moistened cloths that quickly wipe away the pet dander and loose hair that can cause human allergic reactions around pets.
  • Use an air filtration system or air purifier.
  • Vacuum the house and furniture completely and often. You could try using a special vacuum filter that removes dander and other allergens.
  • If you have wall-to-wall carpeting in your home, consider replacing it with another type of flooring and using washable scatter rugs.
  • Have someone groom your pet on a regular basis.
  • Wash your hands immediately after petting the cat.
  • Wash bedspreads, sheets, throw rugs and slip covers frequently.
  • Add a coat conditioner to your pet’s food to prevent skin dryness, which can increase shedding.
  • If your cat tolerates bathing (some do!), give the cat a bath every 4-6 weeks using a cat shampoo.
  • Consult your doctor about allergy shots or medication to control the allergy symptoms.

Even if your cat is the cause of your allergy, remember that your pet, who has been your friend over the years, is truly depending upon you now. If you can invest the time and effort to find ways to cope with your allergy, your pet can stay where he or she belongs — at home with you.

If you have tried all the possible solutions to no avail, and you decide that you need to find a new home for your pet, our guide, Rehoming a Cat or Dog, will provide helpful advice on ensuring that your pet ends up in a good new home.