Cat allergy: what it is and how to solve itDennis Steenbakkers
A cat allergy is annoying, especially if you love cats. Do you think you are allergic? Or was your allergy test positive? Then your cat really doesn’t need to go to a shelter. Cleaning, medication and air purifiers can do a lot for you!
What is a cat allergy?
Lots of people have allergies: to dust mites, pollen and nuts, for example. And also to cats. Why one person becomes allergic and another does not, is not clear. What we do know is that predisposition to allergies is hereditary. So if your father or mother has an allergy, there is a good chance that you will also become allergic to something.
You can be born and be allergic right away. But you can also develop an allergy slowly. This means that you react a little more each time to certain substances and that you only develop more symptoms later in life.
Are you allergic to cats? Then your immune system reacts to the cat’s dander or saliva. Your body sees these substances as “dangerous” when they are not and therefore your body reacts incorrectly.
How do you notice that you are allergic to cats?
Stinging and watering eyes, itchy skin, a runny nose or shortness of breath are all symptoms that you may experience if you are allergic to cats. But because a person can have many different types of allergies, it is wise to find out exactly what substance you are allergic to. You can ask your family doctor about this.
How does a cat allergy test work?
A pet allergy can be diagnosed in two ways: with a skin prick test or blood test – both quick, easy and painless.
A skin test involves applying to your forearm a droplet containing dander from all kinds of pets. The doctor then punctures a small hole in your skin through the droplet. Does a red lump appear? Then you are allergic to one of the types of pets.
A blood test is a logical next step. Because with it, the doctor can see exactly if you have antibodies in your blood and what kind of pet you are allergic to.
Is the cat allergy test result positive?
Did the blood test show that you have a cat allergy and also have symptoms that go with it? Then it is wise to act. For people with severe allergic reactions it is of course best to find another nice home for the cat or cats.
But is your cat allergy mild? Then your cats can continue to live with you (yippee!). Although it would be wise to do some things to make it as pleasant as possible for yourself.
9 helpful tips for people with cat allergies
- Cats no longer in the bedroom
Most cats love to sleep on the bed with their owners. But no matter how cozy that is, if you are allergic, it is better not to allow it. Because then you have at least one room in the house that is allergen-free and your body can catch its breath.
Cleaning your home properly on a regular basis is a second important one. Ideally, vacuum every day (or alternate with a swiffer) and dust furniture and the your cat tree at least twice a week – once with a duster or swiffer duster and once with a damp cloth and all-purpose cleaner.
- Vacuum cleaner with HEPA filter
A HEPA filter ensures that your vacuum cleaner traps fine dust particles and allergens. HEPA filters have codes that indicate how effectively the filter traps fine particles. The higher the number, the better the filter works against allergies. So if you are allergic, it is best to choose a HEPA filter with code 14.
- Air purifier with HEPA filter
If you are allergic to cats, it is important that the air in your home is clean. Regular airing is healthy anyway, but you can make the air in your home even cleaner by using an air purifier with a HEPA filter. This filters a large proportion of all allergens from the air, which means that you inhale fewer of these particles. And therefore you will have fewer complaints.
- Washing baskets and rugs
High temperatures render allergens harmless. Wash rugs, blankets and baskets therefore at least once a week at 40 degrees in your washing machine. And if the material allows it, washing at 60 degrees is even better.
- Steaming is also effective against allergens
Steam is hot, kills bacteria and allergens and is therefore very good to do on a regular basis. Use a steam cleaner to clean floors (check if your floor can handle it) and furniture or use the steam function in your washing machine to clean blankets and baskets. Do you have a dryer? It also gets hot, so it’s just as effective.
- Medicines and pills for allergy
In the spring and fall, cats go into moult and you may have a little more trouble with your allergy. Is this the case with you? Then you can ask your doctor for a nasal spray to clear your airways of mucus. Do you also have skin symptoms? Then antihistamine pills can be very helpful in relieving your symptoms.
- Anti-allergenic / hypoallergenic cat
Don’t have a cat yet, but would like one? And are you allergic? Then you might want to look for a breed that sheds less and loses less dander. Because then you might suffer less from allergic reactions. But beware: a completely hypoallergenic cat breed does not exist! Test first if the breed gives you problems (try cuddling a kitten of that breed), because then you prevent having to look for another home later or your cat ending up in the shelter. That is annoying for you and especially for your cat.
- Cross-reaction cat allergy and pork
Some foods can cause a cross reaction. If you have an allergy to cats, pork can cause symptoms to worsen. This is because some of the allergens are very similar. Your body can’t always recognize that well so you can also have an allergic reaction to pork. So it is certainly useful to keep an eye on that.
As you can see, there is a lot you can do to avoid having to part with your cat or cats due to your allergy. Especially if your symptoms are not serious. Great: because a house with cats is obviously very cozy!
Disclaimer: Petrebels is not a doctor, veterinarian or behaviorist: all content, information and tips on this blog are meant to inspire you and are informative in nature. Does your cat have complaints or problems and do you doubt the health of your cat? Then always go to the (vet) doctor or a behaviorist.