Having a cat allergy is incredibly common — twice as common as dog allergies — and it is caused by an allergic reaction to proteins in the cat’s skin, saliva, and urine. When these proteins become airborne or stick to inanimate objects, this is when your symptoms will flare up.
If you love cats, but can’t bear all your sneezing, itching and watery eyes every time one comes near you, fear not! There are a number of things you can do to control your cat allergy, meaning you can have all the time in the world to be with your furry friends.
Here are our top ten survival tips for cat lovers with a cat allergy:
- Get Diagnosed
Your GP will use either a skin prick test or a radioallergosorbent (RAST) blood test to test you for allergies. If you suspect you may be allergic to cats, you should ask to have one of these tests. You may discover that the allergic reaction is in response to something else, such as mould, dust mites or another pet.
- Try Bathing Your Cat
Bathig your cat can sometimes be quite tricky – we all know how much cats hate water. Bathing the cat is a simple way to remove the cat saliva from its coat, but that’s obviously not an easy thing to do because cats hate water. If you try, any cat-based shampoo would work, but most people take them into a vet who has experience bathing cats. The problem is that they are going to go right back to licking their coat again, but it might help some people.
- Keep the Cat Out of the Bedroom If Possible
The last thing you want is to be sleeping and wake up with an allergy attack.
- Filter the Air
Think about investing in a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. This type of filter forces air through a mesh that takes the particles out of the room. It’s portable and available in the big-box stores. It reduces the amount of airborne allergens in the room. At the same time, keep your home clean by vacuuming it often and using a dust mask while vacuuming.
- Use Antihistamines
Claritin (loratadine), Allegra (fexofenadine) and Zyrtec (tetirizine) are three over-the-counter antihistamines that can help. They are all are non-sedating or less sedating.
- Use Nasal Steroids
Clinical studies have shown that nasal steroids, such as Flonase and Nasonex, have some efficacy is easing the symptoms of a cat allergy.
- Try Herbal or Homeopathic Remedies
Homeopathic remedies may involve a pill under the tongue that has an extremely diluted form of an allergen, with the theory that this helps build up immunities to the allergen. Consult practitioners of non-Western medicine for guidance.
- Try DIY Treatments
Some people recommend a daily spoonful of honey or the use of essential oils. One popular tried and tested balm consists of melting 1 tbsp beeswax and 4 tbsp coconut oil in a bain marie. Then add 15 drops lemon essential oil, 15 drop lavender essential oil, 15 drops peppermint essential oils and 45 drops LLP oil. Pour into a container and leave until cool.
- Change Your Diet
A diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the amount of allergic reactions and adding an extra dose of Vitamin C to your diet might help keep your sneezes at bay. Other supplements, including zinc picolinate and cod liver oil, also have anti-allergic properties and may help your cat allergy.
- Choose a Hypoallergenic Breed of Cat
If you’re interested in having a cat but worried about allergies, investigate non-shedding cats such as Oriental and Javanese breeds which won’t cause an allergic reaction.