If we were sane and rational about our allergies, we’d stay away from anything that makes us sick. Many of us, however, are not sane and rational when it comes to our beloved pets, and indeed one of my screening questions when I was single was “Do you have cat dander allergies?”
I never wanted to have to make the choice between my spouse and my cats. (Because, hello, the cats would always win!) So by a cruel twist of fate, after I got married and after a whole lifetime with cats, I found out that I was the one with cat dander allergies with a 7 out of 9 scale rating.
Here’s the truth: If I didn’t have cats, I’d probably wake up every morning with a completely clear head. I’d never sneeze around the house or experience mild sinus pressure. My eyes would never itch after I bury my head in their fur. But I’d also miss out on a very important part of my life. So no, my cat allergy symptoms are never gone completely, but they are manageable. Very manageable.
So here’s what I’ll say: above all, be sensible. I get letters from people who have anywhere from 5-10 cats and land in the hospital multiple times a year with severe asthmatic attacks. The more cats you have, the more allergens there are to handle.
So here are the tips I’ve personally come up with to help with the cat allergy issue. (And for you dog lovers, yes, this works for you too, should you find you have an allergy to your beloved pooch.)
No more cats sleeping on the bed. Really, it’s such a small price to pay for allergy relief. If you get your symptoms under control by all means invite them back, but feel free to give yourself a break when your body tells you you need it!
Close the bedroom door to keep the cat allergen count down in areas meant for sleeping. Your bedroom should be a sanctuary, so teach your cats to sleep elsewhere during the day
Wash all bedding (including blankets and comforters) in 140°F hot water. This eliminates both dust mites and allergens.
Vacuum with a high grade HEPA vacuum cleaner at least twice weekly. Vacuum the walls, carpet, flooring, chairs, and furniture…everywhere! Use the hand tools on the vacuum to get in small spaces and crevices. We love the Miele Cat & Dog S8380 Vacuum for cleaning upolstery and carpets. It has an Active AirClean filter to absorb pet odors and a mini turbo brush for removing pet hair from stairs and furniture. Cat allergen particles are very small and invasive, so you really have to do a thorough job to get rid of them. Good hand tools on your vacuum cleaner are the answer here, and this Miele comes with a crevice nozzle, dusting brush and upholstery tool.
Use high-end HEPA air purifiersstarting in your bedroom. Since cat allergens are difficult to remove, a good HEPA filter is essential. Personally, I’ve found that running high grade HEPA air cleaners is the key to success. In fact, after strict use of HEPA air purifiers in our home, we tested our air with a particulate counter, and found the allergen levels out to be quite low.
We use several HEPA air purifiers all over our house. The best one we’ve found is the QuietPure Home Air Purifier. It monitors actual particle count, volatile organic compound (VOC) levels, relative humidity and even temperature. The QuietPure Home removes dust, allergens, viruses, smoke, odors and pet dander.
We also like the Airpura v600 Pet Air Purifier. It pairs a HEPA filter with 18 lbs of enhanced, activated carbon, making it a great all-around air cleaner and a smart choice for pet owners who need to remove pet odors and dander at the same time.
A Blueair PRO M Air Purifierin great for bedrooms because it’s so quiet. The PRO M’s HEPASilent and electrostatic air filtration technology exceed HEPA standards, with the capability to remove 99.97% of particles down to 0.1 micron in size.
TheIQAir New Edition HealthPro and HealthPro Plus Air Purifieris our category winner here at Allergy Buyers Club. IQAir’s HyperHEPA filtration system is able to capture particles down to 0.003 microns — the smallest particle that exists. If you need serious allergen control, the IQAir Health Pro is the way to go.
The important thing to remember about cat allergens is the constant high rate of recontamination…because you have the actual source running around the house chasing toy mice! When my husband has an allergic patient come to the house, we use one of the HEPA air purifiers on high in order to clear the air within a 1- to 2-hour period. It works like a charm. HEPA air purification systems may be a little boxy and require filter replacement, but when push comes to shove and you’re in need of fast relief, a high performance HEPA air purifier will do a great job for you.
So remember this basic fact about cat allergens: in order for you to have an allergic reaction to them, they need to be both airborne and (subsequently) inhaled. Cat allergens are very small so they remain suspended in the air longer.
If you have sinus problems because of your cats, use a nasal irrigator and clean out the allergens in your nostrils on a daily basis. This can help reduce the absorption of allergens by around 50%. The SinuPulse Elite Advanced Nasal Sinus Irrigation Systemhas two pulsating spray modes: a moisturizing mist spray tip and a cleansing irrigation tip, so it’s like two systems in one! It’s great for relieving post nasal drip, gently washing away dust, dirt, allergens and pollen, can improve ciliary flow, clear congestion and prevent sinus infections. Irrigation is an harmless procedure and sounds much worse than it actually is — we promise!
After you pet the cats, wash your hands afterward to remove allergens. And don’t rub your eyes! When I forget this simple trick, my eyes can itch for hours. It’s not fun at all.
Some people bathe their cats with pet shampoos to reduce the amount of cat allergen that is released from their cat in to the air. Allersearch Pet + Anti-Allergen Shampoo is a good one, and can help remove allergens when applied to your cats’ coat. Its hypoallergenic formula conditions your pet’s skin while neutralizing allergens, removing dander and destroying odor.
Using a vapor steam cleaner to clean your home (in addition to vacuuming) is now proven by research to be extremely helpful in killing off the cat proteins/dander which embed in carpets and upholstery. We’re great fans of steam cleaners. They really do provide a chemical-free way of eliminating dust mites, bacteria, mold spores, and cat allergens.
Keeping a cat when you have allergies takes a concerted effort, but for those people who are passionate about their cats (and dogs!), it’s really no trouble at all.