Having a pet in the home is something that many people take for granted, but if you have an animal allergy, it can mean that your chances of living in harmony with a furry friend are dramatically reduced.
But don’t throw away the idea entirely just yet – there are some ways that people who suffer from pet allergies can and do live alongside their kitty with ease. Whether you live with someone who has a pet cat or whether you can no longer resist living without a feline friend of your own, our guide on how to live with a cat if you’re allergic will provide you with some excellent tips.
What Are Pet Allergies?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we must take a moment to fully understand what a pet allergy looks like and what causes it. This will allow you to understand better how to avoid the triggers and that irritating onslaught of symptoms every time your moggy enters the room.
Your immune system is designed to fight off anything that may be harmful to your body – bacteria, viruses, and other types of infection, and for the most part, this works well. However, there are some people whose immune systems are overly sensitive and attempt to fight off things that are not going to cause you harm. In this case, the proteins found in various byproducts of your pet puss will trigger the immune system and cause an allergic reaction.
Some people find that they struggle with pet dander whereas others may find the saliva a trigger, but whatever it is that causes a response, your body may respond in any of the following ways:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Runny nose or sneezing
- Hives (a raised, itchy rash on the skin)
- Difficulty breathing, especially in people who have existing lung conditions such as asthma
- Swelling of the eyes
The severity of your allergy will determine the types of symptoms that you experience, but it is also important to remember that the reaction is usually localized. If an animal licks you, you may break out in a rash solely in that area, for example.
How To Live With A Cat If You’re Allergic
So, you’ve taken that leap of faith and decided that it’s time to get a pet cat – or you’ve recently moved in with a friend, family member, or partner who refuses to part with their precious puss, but all is not lost.
As many as 10% of people around the world struggle with some kind of pet allergy, and it’s become apparent that cats seem to be worse at triggering the symptoms than their canine counterparts. So, you’re not alone.
If you have found yourself sharing a residence with a cat, there are some actions that you can take to lessen your symptoms or reduce them entirely. It is worth pointing out, however, that for people who suffer from severe allergies, living in a pet-free home might be the most viable option.
Give Your Cat Limited Access Throughout The Home
There isn’t a cat lover in the world who would be willing to expose themselves to the allergens without having a break, and this is one of the first things you should consider doing if you want to learn how to live with a cat if you are allergic.
Segregating the animal will give you a safe space to go to when your allergies become too much. This may sound a lot more dramatic than it is since doing this could be as simple as keeping just one room in the home completely cat free.
For most people, this works best when cordoning off your bedroom. However, some people may also choose to make the entire upper floor ‘humans only.’ This can be difficult since cats are agile animals who won’t be stopped with a simple stair gate or barrier. In this case, you should accept that the cat may access the landing, but if all doors are kept closed, you’re fighting a winning battle.
If you have had your pet for a while and have allowed it to have access to every room in the house, you should be prepared for a few weeks of intense cleaning to get rid of the residual pet dander in the places you are banning your kitty from entering.
The particles that you are trying to get rid of are incredibly small and notoriously difficult to shift. Still, with regular vacuuming and washing of any soft furnishings, it is possible.
Invest In A Pet Vacuum Cleaner
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No, we’re not talking about a vacuum cleaner to clean your pet – many modern vacuums are designed with a pet-loving household in mind.
These cleaning machines are specifically aimed at removing the tiny particles found in homes that have pets that are responsible for causing allergies. They usually feature a much more powerful rotating brush that will lift away any dander with ease. Furthermore, removing these products can eliminate any smells associated with keeping an animal.
If you do not use a vacuum that is designed for pets, you run the risk of merely spreading those particles around the home as opposed to removing them completely.
Think About Your Flooring
One of the most common mistakes that people make when trying to allergen-proof their home is omitting to pay attention to the floor.
Whilst most kitchens and bathrooms feature hard floorings such as tiles or laminate, the cozier areas of the home are usually kitted out with a soft, fluffy carpet. This may look aesthetically pleasing and feel lovely on your feet, but it is a prime ground for pet allergens to gather.
If you suffer from allergies relating to your cat, it can be a sage idea to remove your carpets and go for a hard floor option.
If you’re reluctant to do this, regularly cleaning the carpets is going to be the best way forward, but we can’t reiterate enough that wood or tile flooring will make your life so much easier.
Additionally, it pays to think about the number of soft furnishings you keep in areas where you allow your feline companion to go. For example, if the cat is permitted to enter the living room, it can pay to minimize the number of cushions, throws, and curtains – opting for blinds may be preferable. All of these items are just as guilty as your carpet for harboring those allergens and giving you symptoms every time you simply want to sit in the comfort of your living room.
It’s no secret that cats love to be brushed and what’s more, this is an excellent way of bonding with your pet whilst keeping her coat healthy and shiny.
But a simple mistake that many allergy-prone pet owners make is brushing their beloved cat inside the home. As you do this, the pet dander is being spread through the air and settling on a variety of surfaces around the house.
To eliminate this problem, you can brush your cat outdoors if the weather permits. However, if there is a sudden downpour – neither you nor your cat will want to sit out so relocating to a garage or other building that is separate from the main home is a good option.
You may also consider donning a pair of gloves when you do this to avoid getting any allergens on your hands.
There’s been a lot of talk about hand hygiene in recent times, but this isn’t just important where viruses are concerned.
As a person who is allergic to cats, you’ll likely have made the rookie mistake of touching the cat and then touching your eyes – you’ll know that this isn’t a pleasant experience. However, thoroughly washing your hands after petting your kitty will remove any allergens and prevent any accidental transfer to the eyes and nose.
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Prevention is better than cure – or so they say, but in this case, there couldn’t be a more fitting saying. If there was a way to remove any allergens from your pet before they are airborne, would you do it? The most obvious answer is yes, and this is a perfectly viable option with Petal Cleanse.
This is a solution which can be simply wiped on to the cat’s coat and wiped off again, taking any allergens with it. It’s an excellent solution for anyone who is desperate for a feline sidekick but suffers from allergies.
Of course, the health and safety of the cat is the priority, but the solution is perfectly safe for use and won’t cause any adverse reactions for the animal.
Improve The Air Flow In The Home
Any allergen-containing dander in your home won’t go anywhere by itself. Whilst cleaning is a significant activity when you have pets, especially pets that cause you an allergic reaction, aerating the home is just as, if not even more essential.
You have two options when it comes to doing this – simply opening the windows or investing in an air purifier. Both options are great and will successfully remove a fair amount of dander from the home, but it is essential to remember that if you are going to open windows that there is no chance of the cat escaping or falling from one that is higher up.
Stay On Top Of The Litter Box
A lot of people may be under the impression that waste products from the cat do not cause an allergic reaction but this is a common misconception. The urine of your pet also contains many allergens, and when left to fester, these can spread into the air and trigger your symptoms.
This is why it is essential that you stay on top of changing and cleaning the litter box as and when your cat uses it.
If you have a cat that goes outside, it is possible to train him to do his business outdoors only. This may take some work, but it could drastically reduce the number of allergens you are exposed to within the home.
Go Down The Medical Route
For a lot of people, the tips we have discussed may not be enough to allow them to tolerate living with a cat. But there is one final bit of hope.
You’re more than likely aware that there is a wealth of over-the-counter allergy medications that can quell your symptoms very successfully. If you’re looking to learn how to live with a cat if you are allergic, this could be your last line of defense.
However, if your allergies are particularly severe, it may be worth visiting your doctor who can prescribe you with something a little more substantial.
There is also the possibility of getting a test that will determine the exact source of the allergy. This will allow you to better target that in the home – for example, if it is the saliva of the cat that causes an issue, you will know to avoid letting the animal lick you. However, these tests usually need to be done privately so they will likely come with a hefty price tag.
Finally, there is the option of immunotherapy which exposes you to the allergen in a controlled, medical environment through drops, injections, or tablets. The concept is based around the idea that regular exposure to something that causes an allergic reaction will allow the immune system to become more tolerant. Similarly to the previous option, this treatment usually requires you to attend a private clinic, although in some extreme cases, it may necessary to seek medical advice
Cat’s are extraordinary animals, and they have a lot of love to give to their owners, despite their reputation for being independent, many of these animals love nothing more than snuggling up to their human for some TLC. But for people with allergies, this isn’t always possible.
That being said, there are many ways that you can reduce or eliminate your allergies, for example, changing the type of flooring in your home, using products to remove allergens from your pet, and undergoing treatment for the allergy, amongst other things.
For most people with mild to moderate allergies, these things will allow them to live side by side with their feline friends. However, if your allergies persist, you may have to accept that your home should remain pet-free for the sake of your health.