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It’s the perfect picture. A cat owner is sitting on a chair with their cat curled up in their lap. Unfortunately, a closer look reveals the owner's red eyes and blotchy skin. Does getting close to your furry family member result in itchy, watery eyes and sneezing? Many cat owners are allergic to their pets, yet feel the benefits of life with their furry companions outweigh the drawbacks.
If you or a household member has an allergic reaction to your cat, there are strategies to help you live a peaceful, sneeze-free coexistence.
You should first determine if it is actually the cat that you are allergic to. There are many other allergies that mimic pet allergies. A visit to an allergist would be best. An allergist can do a skin test to determine what you are allergic to. Many allergists will advise you to re-home your pet if it is determined you are indeed allergic. You may want to ask your veterinarian for a referral to a pet-friendly allergist.
So you are allergic to your cat. What do you do? Here are some recommendations for a happy coexistence.
- Set up a cat-free zone, preferably the bedroom. Your cat should not be allowed in your bedroom. You spend a good amount of your time home sleeping, and this would be the best choice for a cat-free area. Dander can build up on your sheets and blankets, exacerbating your allergies. It is worth it to buy zippered, allergy-proof cases for your mattress, box spring, and pillows.
- Reduce the number of textiles in your home. Dander gets trapped in soft surfaces like carpets, upholstery and curtains. Consider switching to hardwood or tile floors, leather furniture and blinds.
- Place washable blankets and throws where your cat spends the most time. Wash these frequently in hot water.
- Clean your home frequently, wiping down all hard surfaces. Wear a dust mask while cleaning. Invest in a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, or use high filtration cleaner bags.
- Baseboard heating systems are better for cat allergies than forced hot air systems. If you do have a hot air system, change filters frequently.
- Brush your cat frequently. If possible, have a household member that is not allergic take care of this task.
- Wash your hands after petting your cat, or handling any of their toys, beds, bowls, etc. Do not touch your eyes until your hands have been thoroughly cleaned.
- If you have been playing or cuddling with your cat, make sure you change your clothes before lying in your bed. Remember, your bed and bedroom are a cat-free zone.
- Invest in a HEPA air purifier.
- Weather permitting, allow some fresh air in your home every day to clear out some of the allergens.
- Bath your pet or wipe them down with distilled water. This reduces the allergens on their coat and skin.
You may find just applying a few of the above suggestions greatly reduces your allergy symptoms, or you may need to put them all into practice.
Your physician or allergist may recommend a prescription or over-the-counter allergy medications to alleviate your symptoms. Depending on the severity of your allergy, you may be a candidate for immunotherapy or allergy shots. These injections build up your antibodies to reduce your symptoms.
People react differently to different allergy control methods. What works for some, will not work for others. Do not give up if you do not see an immediate response. It can take a few weeks to cut down on the number of allergens in your home.
Hopefully adopting a few of the above strategies will result in a peaceful, non-sneezing life of happily ever after for you and your furry friend.
Written by Abbysmom
Karen, aka Abbysmom, has been battling cat allergies all her life and is currently living a sneeze-free existence with Domestic Short Hair. Karen is also a member of the TheCatSite.com Forums' Team.
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