Why you might be allergic to cats, and how you can manage your allergies at home so you can live with them.
As a cat person, it’s upsetting to learn, a lot of people surrender their cats due to the unrelenting symptoms they suffer being allergic to cats.
Lucky for me, I don’t have cat allergies. But I know a lot of people who are. Cat allergies are like hay fever. The symptoms can range anywhere from inflammation of the skin, puffy eyes, watery nose and eyes and even rashes.
What’s the science behind how allergies work in the human body?
The human immune system makes antibodies to help fight off any substances which might hurt the body, such as bacteria and viruses. When someone has allergies, the immune system mistakes an allergen for something harmful and starts making antibodies. This is when the body starts producing symptoms like rashes, itchiness and a runny nose.
Without the proper knowledge, or dare I say, lack of education, I had no concept of what cat allergies were. Assuming it came from the fur of the cat. I mean that’s why special allergy cat with no fur were bred – right?
Wrong. Believe it or not, the allergy does not come from the fur. So, those cats you see who have no fur, have nothing to do with cat allergies.
Cat allergies come from the cat’s dander aka: dead skin cells, saliva and sometimes even their urine. Though also located on the fur, this is only by default as cats groom themselves, and the particles which create the allergic reaction end up on the fur as they lick it.
Known scientifically as Fel D1, it is the thermostable protein found in the saliva, anal glands, sebaceous glands, and skin of cats. And yes, the hormonal status of the cat can also impact the amount of Fel D1 being produced in cats, with male cats known to produce higher levels, resulting in more people being allergic to male cats than female cats.
Though more studies need to be made outside of what has already been researched, what is known, is male cats produce stronger pheromones, which can exacerbate Fel D1, resulting in a stronger allergic reaction to male cats than that of female cats.
Okay, so now all of the sciency stuff is out of the way, how do you manage cat allergies?
Step 1: Desex the Cat
If you don’t intend to breed your cat for specific purposes, which you actually a license for now in NSW to breed cats, then you should think about desexing your cat ASAP. This has been proven through studies by the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine to help reduce cat allergies.
Cats whether they have been desexed or not, all produce a feline pheromone which humans can’t smell. However, some people are vulnerable to the particles of this pheromone causing an allergic reaction. Cats who have not been desexed produce a higher concentrate of this feline pheromone. So, when desexed, it lowers the particle release and hence reduces the allergy symptoms.
Step 2: Restrict Cat from Certain Areas of Your Home
This may be easier said than done, as cats love to have a snuggle with their favourite person at night whilst sleeping.
Cats like cosy, safe places to sleep, which is why they often curl up next to you whilst you’re sleeping. Even in 40-degree heat. Set up a location for your cat to sleep which is nearby, so they still feel safe, and create a cosy little piece of heaven for them.
Temple & Webster sell a wide range of delightful cat houses, which will not only provide a fabulous nesting area for your cat (or cats), it will also provide plenty of hours of fun, as they climb up and down a tree house, use the scratch pad and so much more.
Step 3: Try Purina Pro Plan Live Clear Cat Biscuits
This revolutionary new food by Purina it lowers the allergy affecting agents of Fel D1 in the cat’s mouth. So, when a cat grooms itself, less allergies are produced for humans.
Using a special protein found in eggs, Purina were able to create a dry cat food, which is not only super tasty and full of nutritional goodness for cats, but it also assists in reducing the impacts of Fel D1 allergic reactions in humans up to 47 percent within the first few days.
I tested the food out at home on my cat, even though I don’t have cat allergies, to see how it would rate with my nephew who is allergic to cats visits regularly. Most of his symptoms would be sneezing, itchy skin and a runny nose. He lost those symptoms within a week of my cat eating this new food.
3 months on – still no allergic reaction to my cat.
Step 4: Stick to One Cat
If you don’t already have a cat, are allergic and planning on getting one, stick to only one.
As tempting as it is to get more than one cute little furball, let’s face it, being allergic to one cat is bad enough. Duplicating the problem by having two can make life uncomfortable for you.
It may seem difficult to only stop at one, especially if you work all day and want your cat to have company. But do think twice about it and focus on managing your allergies with just one cat.
Step 5: Invest in an Air Purifier
Also known as HEPA Filters, and often found in air conditioners and heating systems, an air purifier will help reduce allergens as they filter out the particles in the air, including cat hair. Keeping it clearer, making it easier to breath.
If you live in a big space, use the purifier in the most concentrated area, such as a bedroom and living areas, where the cat might spend most of its time. This will help reduce the allergen where you spend most of your time.
In addition, you can also invest in a vacuum cleaner which is fitted with an air purifier to help when cleaning and reduce allergens.