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BellaOnline's Allergies and Colds Editor

Cat Allergy Basics

What is it about small, furry animals like cats? They make some of us sneeze, itch and get watery eyes but yet we welcome them into our homes. I recently adopted a new furry feline pal, named Bailey. At the same time, I dusted off all my tried-and-true techniques for minimizing my allergy symptoms.

Keep all your other allergies under control

Few people are allergic only to cats. You can lessen your allergy to cats by controlling your allergies to pollens, dust, molds, etc.

I call it the “glass runneth over effect.” Everyone has a certain tolerance level to allergens where you display no symptoms. Your symptoms appear when your exposure to allergens is too high (or your glass overflows). Take preventive measure to reduce allergens in your home. Lessen your reaction to outdoor allergens by taking your allergy medication, or consider immunotherapy to reduce your reactions.


If you are allergic to cats, the cause of your sensitivity is a protein called Fe d 1, found in their saliva. This cat allergen is transferred to the cats’ hair and skin every time they groom themselves. Cat allergens are similar in size to aerosol droplets. They can adhere to pretty much anything including carpets, furniture, walls and clothes, and remain in an environment for months or even years.

You can reduce your exposure to cat allergen with a number of remedies. Remember these will only help if your cat allergies are in the mild-to-moderate range.

•Have your pet spayed or neutered as altered cats produce lower amounts of Fe d 1 than unaltered animals.

•Brush your cat daily to prevent an accumulation of dandruff.

•Bathe your pet, if you dare, regularly with a specially formulated cat shampoo. This will help reduce the build up of dandruff, containing cat allergen, the culprit of your allergy. Read “How to Wash a Cat” at http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art41069.asp on the allergies and colds site for step by step instructions.

•Get rid of carpets and fabric surfaces which are places for allergens to accumulate.

•Vacuum regularly with a machine with a good filter.

•Wash bed linens, blankets, pillows, etc. often.

•Use an air purifier to filter out many airborne irritants.

•Keep your cat out of your bedroom since that is where you spend a lot of time.

Forget about replacing your feline with one that is hairless. This won’t improve your allergies. Hairless cats still product Fe d 1 and transfer it to their skin during grooming.

Don’t give up on keeping a cat until you have tried these strategies. After all, your cat is dependent on you, and our animal shelters are already full of pets that have been discarded.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Sheree Welshimer. All rights reserved.
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