How to Reduce Cat Allergies

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  • By Robin Westen

    Every year thousands of cats are given to shelters because their owners discover they’re allergic to their beloved pets. If an allergy is severe, you may not be able to remedy the problem. In most cases, though, there are “purrfect” ways to reduce discomfort so kitty can have a forever home. Here’s what to do:
  • Invest in an Air Purifier Smaller units usually don’t do the trick so if you can afford it, buy a large commercial-size air purifier. It will not only clear your air of dander, but also other irritants such as dust and molds that might be adding to your discomfort.
  • Clean Thoroughly You’ll need to thoroughly vacuum each room every day and damp wipe all the counters and furniture. It’s also best to wash your sheets and bedspreads at least twice a week, even if your cat isn’t allowed in the room.
  • Get Rid of Dust Collectors Substitute wall-to-wall carpeting for throw rugs and use slipcovers over your chairs and sofa. The covers can be thrown into the laundry weekly. Also opt for washable blinds rather than heavy drapes.
  • Sleep on Non-Allergenic Pillows Choose pillows made of Dacron or other synthetics. Nix kapok, feathers, or foam rubber that grows mold, especially if you live in a damp area.
  • Choose Litter Carefully Plain clay or pine litter are usually less irritating to owners with allergies than scented litter. You’ll also want to use a brand that has low dust or is dust free. In any case, pour litter slowly into the pan to keep dust at a minimum. Also, if there are folks in your home without allergies, have them take over the task. (It's best done outside the house.)
  • Be a Good Groomer Comb or brush your cat at least daily to control shedding. Also add a coat conditioner to your kitty’s food to alleviate dry skin and reduce shedding. It’s also a good idea to bathe your cat about every six weeks, but only use a veterinarian-approved shampoo and rinse.
  • Get Injections A doctor can give you a series of injections of cat allergen extract that are gradually increased in strength until you’re able to tolerate the cat's presence with minimal, if any, discomfort. This process is called hyposensitization. Once the tolerance level is reached, maintenance injections are required. Note: This treatment isn’t always successful.
  • Medicine Ask your doctor about prescription drugs for pet allergies. They’ve shown varying levels of success. You should not be taking antihistamines on a regular basis.

    Robin Westen is ThirdAge's Medical Director. Check for her daily updates. Her latest book, co-authored with Dr. Alyssa Dweck, is "V is for Vagina."