Allergic to cats… Catchoo!
Some tips to help you deal with allergies around your furry friend
Did you know that cat allergies are more common than dog allergies? Were you aware that being allergic is one of the top five reasons that people surrender their cats to rescues and shelters? It is also one of the top reasons that newly adopted kittens get returned within 24-48 hours.
If you are considering adding a kitty to your home for the first time, have all members of your family come to the adoption center and spend time with the cats. Often, when a cat is returned, it is because a family member is allergic and that is the person who never visited the adoption center with you. After spending an hour or so with the cats, go home and see if you experience any symptoms*. It is not a foolproof plan but someone who has a major allergy to cats will experience symptoms within hours. If you are unsure, repeat the process. If you have completed an application, we will hold the cat while you make sure everyone is okay. As a bonus, it allows you to bond with your potential new pet and get a better idea of their personality.
Allergic symptoms can include: generalized itchiness, itchy and watery eyes, hives or redness of the skin, tingling of the lips, coughing/wheezing, runny/stuffy nose, sneezing,
No cat is 100% hypoallergenic. Some purebred cats are less likely to produce allergens. This Pet MD article lists some breeds to consider. It is not the fur that is the problem, it’s protein in the cat’s saliva and dander, as well as urine. It does not matter if the fur is long or short.
Allergies can be treated with antihistamines, decongestants and allergy shots, but they are not always effective. You have to ask yourself if you are willing to continually take medication. Cat allergies do not get better over time. Be especially careful if you have asthma or have experienced a life-threatening allergic reaction to some other allergen. Often people who are allergic to cats have another allergy as well.
The Mayo Clinic has a very good article on testing for pet allergy symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment.
If the allergy is mild, there are things you can try to help the situation.
Clean your home thoroughly and often, try a HEPA filter, keep the cat out of your bedroom, wash your hands frequently, and, although hard to resist, try not to rub your face against the cat. Regularly bathing your cat is often recommended but not all cats will be happy being bathed! An alternative you might consider is a dander reducing wipe or spray such as Burt’s Bees (available on Amazon). For more in-depth suggestions, read this Petfinder article.
Another informative article is one from Two Cat Freaks.
Before you consider adopting a cat or kitten, take the time to determine if anyone in the house may be allergic. Taking home a kitty and then having to return it is not only hard on the feline but can be devastating for the family, especially children. We have seen this too many times and we want everyone to be both happy and healthy. Gesundheit!