Updated May 4, 2017
If your cat is causing you to sneeze or itch, you’re probably suffering from an allergy to cats. Fortunately, being allergic to cats doesn’t mean you need to get rid of your pet.
There are some simple things you can do to get fast relief.
Before I get to the tips though, it’s important to understand what causes allergies.
Surprisingly, it’s not hair.
Instead, it’s a protein in a cat’s saliva that gets caught on dander (skin cells) when it grooms.
As dead skin cells fall from your cat, the allergenic protein comes with it.
While it’s impossible to get rid of all dander, reducing the amount in your home can relieve symptoms.
Cats don’t like to be told where they can and can’t go, but if you have an allergy your bedroom needs to be off-limits.
Pillows, bedding and mattresses can all catch dander which is then released when you sleep. As you spend eight hours each day in your bedroom, this can lead to continuous symptoms and poor sleep.
Even if you keep the door shut, a small amount of dander will hitch a ride on clothing into your bedroom.
For this reason, wash your bedding regularly and buy allergy-proof sheets.
You should also vacuum your mattress, pillows and under your bed to remove surface allergens.
A handheld vacuum can make this easier, especially if your main vacuum is an upright, as they are easier to manoeuvre into tight spaces.
Aside from skin cells, allergens are also found in cat urine.
Allergens can be carried around your home on dust from litter, triggering allergic reactions even when you’re not near your cat.
The simple way to prevent this is to change the box regularly and use a litter that isn’t as dusty.
If possible, designate litter-emptying duty to someone who has no allergy to cats.
Once air is sucked into a vacuum, it passes through a filter to remove small particles.
Simple filters are effective at removing large particles, but allow smaller ones to pass through.
This is a problem if you have an allergy to cats, as your vacuum is just moving allergens around the home.
To stop this happening, you need a vacuum with a HEPA filter or other form of advanced filtration.
This prevents allergens from escaping.
It’s also a good idea to get a bagged vacuum cleaner, as they are easier to empty without spraying dust everywhere.
Modern houses often have excellent insulation to reduce electricity bills.
The downside is that this also reduces airflow, which means more allergens are trapped inside your home.
You can reduce allergens by using an air filter and keeping windows open.
There are many prescription and over-the-counter medicines that can improve allergic reactions.
Some of the most common are eye drops, inhalers and antihistamines.
If you’re struggling with severe symptoms, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor about whether medication can help.
The downside to medication is that it only provides temporary relief.
That’s why I recommend using it in combination with the other tips to reduce symptoms as much as possible.
If you have an allergy to cats, but love your pet, there’s no need to despair.
There are plenty of ways to relieve allergies without needing to give up your feline friend.
In most cases, a combination of increased airflow, “cat-free” rooms and regular cleaning can quickly provide relief.