Can You Live With a Cat If You Are Allergic?

You are a die-hard cat person, but every time you are around one of your furry friends, you go into sneezing fits and your eyes will not stop watering. You are likely having an allergic reaction to cats, but does that mean you will never be able to live with one? Follow along as we break down cat allergies and owner options.

grooming a cat with brush

Why Are People Allergic To Cats?

The Cleveland Clinic states that it is not actually fur or dander that causes cat allergies. Cats have a protein that is secreted in their saliva, urine, and feces that is the root cause of cat allergies. Because cats spend so much of their time grooming, the protein gets into their fur, causing it to spread more easily. Cat protein can last up to four months once it is shed.

Symptoms of Being Allergic to Cats

Cat allergy symptoms are similar to any pollen-based allergy, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

They consist of the following:

  • wheezing
  • itchy eyes
  • hives
  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • runny nose
  • scratchy throat
  • itchy skin
  • nasal congestion

Pet allergies are diagnosed by skin or blood tests. For the skin test, they prick the skin and cover the part with the allergens and part with a neutral agent. They then observe the area for any reactions, which typically look like hives. This test takes about 15 minutes from start to finish.

Can Babies Be Allergic to Cats?

Yes. Anyone of any age can be allergic to cats.

How To Live With Cats When You Are Allergic suggests that you do not allow your cat in your bedroom or near any of your bedding. Wash or replace bedding that your cat has come in contact with and consider using allergen reducing covers for your pillows and mattress. Wash your cat’s bedding as often as you wash your own.

In other rooms of your home, eliminate as much upholstery as possible. Opt for hardwood flooring instead of rugs, as it is easier to clean and absorbs less cat dander. If hardwood is not an option, make sure to vacuum regularly with a vacuum with a HEPA filter.

Clean your cat’s litter box as soon as possible after they urinate or defecate. Since the protein that causes cat allergies is spread via waste products, it is best to get rid of it right away. If at all possible, have someone who is not allergic to cats do this for you.

Brush your cat regularly. While this sounds counterintuitive, it actually prevents random shedding. If you can safely do so, try to brush them outside so their dander is not spread all over your house. You can also purchase products to rub into your cat’s fur that lessens the transmission of the protein. This takes the place of regular baths, which would be too stressful for your cat.

Another thing you can do to make living with your cat easier is to get allergy tested. Follow your doctor’s instructions and take your allergy medication regularly.

Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat. Since the protein that causes allergies is produced in saliva, urine, and feces, it is produced by all cats. However, there are some cats that shed less than others so that the protein is not spread as widely.

Blue Cross for Pets considers the following cats as close to hypoallergenic as possible:

  • Sphynx
  • Siberian
  • Burmese
  • Russian Blue
  • Bengal

Cat allergies are a pain. However, it is possible to lessen your suffering by keeping a strategic, regular cleaning regimen and taking allergy medication. These things make it possible to coexist with your furry friend while lessening the impact it has on your allergies.

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