Asthmatics and cats often donít go well together. In fact, doctors usually recommend that patients who are allergic to several other things should avoid getting a cat in the first place. Cat dander and saliva are common allergy and asthma triggers. These allergens are found on the catís fur and skin; cat allergens are also very sticky. Cat allergen is difficult to clean from carpeting, walls and furniture, and it can remain in a home many months after a cat has been removed. According to WebMD, approximately 20 % to 30 % of people who have allergic asthma will be allergic to cats. Symptoms of cat allergy are similar to other allergy triggers: stuffy nose, runny nose, swollen, red eyes, itching, hives or rash, sneezing, coughing and even asthma trouble. Even so, if you do have cat allergies and would like to have a cat, there are some things you can do.
Depending on how bad you or your childís asthma becomes, it might be necessary to find your cat a new home. This should be the last solution, however, as it is traumatic for your family and the cat to be separated. If your symptoms arenít too bad, it might be possible to still keep your kitty by trying the following tips.
1. Keep the cat out of your bedroom. The bedroom should be maintained as a ďsafeĒ room for you or your kids who have cat allergies. Keeping the cat out will keep the room cleaner and less liable to make your allergies worse. Plus, you will have a place for your body recoup from cat allergens after youíve been around your kitty.
2. Dust and vacuum often. Dust and vacuum your entire home, including your bedroom, fairly often in order to keep the level of cat allergens low. If the allergic person must vacuum, be sure they wear a long-sleeved shirt, pants to cover their legs, and an allergy dust mask that will filter the air before they breathe it. It is also advisable to purchase a HEPA vacuum, as this will filter out the allergens, rather than blowing dust and dirt back into the room as you vacuum.
3. Keep your homeís air clean. Use a whole-house HEPA air cleaner for your furnace, or use HEPA filters on your homeís air conditioning to cut down the amount of cat allergen being spread in your home.
4. Bathe your cat weekly. Yes, you read that rightótry to bathe your cat once a week. This will not be easy, but bathing your cat at least once a week helps to lower the amount of cat allergen found on his/her fur; which in turn helps to keep levels of cat allergen lower in your home. Another option, if youíre worried about bathing your cat, would be to buy special pet wipes that help to clean the cat allergen off your catís fur. Again, itís advisable to use the wipes at least once a week in order to reduce the amount of cat allergen.
5. Create ďsafeĒ areas in your home where the catís not allowed. This goes along with the first tip. You might be able to keep additional areas of your home off limits to your kitty in order to keep allergic reactions to a minimum.
6. Seek treatment for your cat allergy. If these tips donít bring relief, and youíre still having allergy and asthma symptoms, itís time to visit your doctor. Your doctor might decide to run some allergy tests to see how allergic you are to cat allergen, and may also run tests for asthma, to see if your asthma has worsened and become unstable. Along with allergy and asthma testing, your doctor might prescribe antihistamines and asthma medication to help with your cat allergy. If you're already taking these medications, your doctor may experiment to see what combination of asthma and allergy medications would help you to feel better.
7. Remove all carpet. Wood or tile floors are good for those who have allergies. This type of flooring is easy to clean and maintain. Therefore, it wonít harbor cat allergens. It is usually recommended that wood or tile floors should be dusted or vacuumed once a day and washed at least once a week. If you can't remove the carpet from your entire house, another option would be to take the carpet out of your "safe" room, for better allergy and asthma control.
8. Last Resort. If all else fails, it may be time to find your kitty a new home. This is hard, and should be kept as a last resort only.
Visiting a Home That Has a Cat
You might find yourself visiting a home that has a cat; there are some steps you can take to keep yourself from having a major allergy and asthma attack:
1. Keep the kitty at a distance. Itís best to keep the cat at a distance, and not to let it sit in your lap, etc.
2. If you know ahead of time you'll be in a home where there is a cat, it might be helpful if you pre-medicate with antihistamines and your quick-relief inhaler. Check with your doctor before making any medication changes.
3. Ask for the cat to be removed from the room. Most hosts understand when are willing to move their cat to another room for their visitor.
The best advice is to first use the easiest of these methods to control your cat allergy. If those methods don't work, then try the more expensive and difficult tips such as removing the carpet or finding your kitty a new home.
Most asthma patients are able to keep their cats--enjoying snuggle and play time with their furry friends. Following these tips can help you and your kids to enjoy your kitty or visit homes that have kitties, while keeping your asthma and allergies under control.