How to Live with Cats even if you are Allergic!

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If you love animals and require them to be in your life, I can tell you how you can live with cats and still be able to breathe.  Obviously, I’m not a doctor and let me be clear that the best thing for your health is to avoid cats.  But if you love them and cannot live without them.  Read on to see how you can do it…….

My allergies are more under control now than any time previously in my life.

I currently have five cats and two dogs and my allergies are more under control now then they have been my entire life.  I have many additional allergies besides my pets.  But some of the steps I take help eliminate these allergies too.

#1) Bring a kitten into your home, not an older cat.

Tiger Striped kitten with white - full front picturePeople are allergic to a protein that is present in cat’s skin.  This same protein is present in their urine and their saliva.  Some people believe they are allergic to a cat’s fur and thus believe that long-haired cats are worse for allergies than a short-haired cat, but this is not necessarily true.  Skin, Saliva, and urine are the main culprits for allergies.  Fur may be affected because cats are known to groom themselves frequently.

Adding a kitten to your family is the best way for you to acclimate your body to pet dander.  Older cats have built up dander because of the frequent licking they do every day.   Kittens are also a whole lot of fun and a great way to bond.

#1a) Bathe your cat monthly.

I bathe my cats monthly with a mild cat shampoo.  Check out Tips to Bath your Cat Successfully!  Bathing your cat will strip off the loose skin and excess dander that has built up on the fur.  This is best to be done on a kitten at an early age so they acclimate to receiving a frequent bath.  Also, a kitten is easier to handle in a bathtub and hopefully as they growCalico kitten taking a bath larger you will get used to dealing with them in the bathtub.

If you have attempted to bathe your cat and he/she or you are not able to tolerate it, there are also dander sprays or waterless bath sprays that will do as good of a job.  Most of these include spraying a substance onto the cat’s fur and rubbing it into the skin.  I have tried some of these.  They seem to work, I just prefer the plain old bath instead.  I think it does a better job and it gets my cats nice and clean.

 

Also, cats that are not consistently licking themselves – have less dander.  However, these cats tend to look frumpy.  A bath gets them nice and clean and removes any dander they have produced.  My vets (I see multiple at one practice) have commented on the coats of my cats and how nice they are.

#2) Get an air purifier.Honeywell Air Purifier

I started with one air purifier, but at the current time, I have three.  This helps to filter out the pet dander floating through the air.  The air purifier also reduces the humidity in the house.  Higher humidity helps dust mites to breed.  My allergy to dust mites is as high as my allergy to cats.   So this simple addition has helped me to breath better in my home whether I own cats or not.  It has done such a good job, that I can feel the difference if we visit someone for longer than a day and they do not have an air purifier.  Dust is something you cannot get rid of no matter how hard anyone tries.

#3) Be Swifter and Dust Brush standing on floorprepared to clean a lot!Miele Vaccum Cleaner

Keep your cat out of your bedroom.  This will give you a safe place to recover in case you have an allergy attack or you obtain a cold.  Of course, you will drag some pet dander into the room, but it will not be anywhere close to the amount if you allow your cat to visit that room.

Remove as many carpets as possible.  Hardwood floor, vinyl, etc. is better for anyone that is allergic to dust mites or pets.  I understand there are many people that prefer carpets and I am one of them.  In this case, make sure you get a HEPA filter vacuum.  Invest in a good brand and get a bagged vacuum.  Bag-less vacuums have to be cleaned out so unless you have someone else to clean it out, you will be breathing in all your allergens from the week in one painful time-frame.

 

#4) Consider taking an allergy drug

When we bought our first cat Alex, I knew I would have to take some type of allergy drug.  I had previously been on allergy shots, but they did not seem to be making a difference at the time.  I tried all the antihistamine brands, Claritin, Allegra, Zyrtec, etc.  None of these helped my symptoms which included sneezing and watery eyes.  I then tried the decongestants.  Most of them worked to some degree but Claritin-D seemed to work the best for me.  I feel everyone reacts differently to these drugs.  Also, as an added bonus Claritin-D was the only brand that came in a 12-hour format.   I only needed one 12-hr pill a day.  Now, several brands have developed the 12-hr pills, but I have not tried them since Claritin-D still works for me.  Make sure you consult a doctor in case any of your current medications interfere with a decongestant.

Claritin-D box

Living with dogs

These four things are what allow me to live with my 5 cats and 2 dogs.  I concentrated on cats since I am more allergic to cats than dogs, but dogs do bother me also.  Being allergic to dogs isn’t quite the same as being allergic to dogs, but tips #2-#4 don’t change much with dogs.  We don’t bathe the dogs monthly, but they are bathed regularly because they get dirtier than cats with their need to go outside and dig.  Cats would never be bathed unless you put some effort into it.

Are there other tips that people use for dealing with allergies while living with a pet?

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