There’s a good chance that you or someone you know starts
sniffling or sneezing when there’s a cat nearby. In fact, an estimated 10
million people in the United States are allergic to cat dander. But just
because you’re allergic doesn’t mean you can’t live comfortably with a cat — and it certainly doesn’t mean you need to get rid of the cat you already have. As long as your cat allergy isn’t too severe, there are plenty of
ways to reduce the amount of allergens in your home.
Check out our photo gallery to learn how to keep cat-related sniffles to a minimum.
Find a Good Allergist
Working with your allergist is key to successfully living
with a cat. Fill him in on the strategies you've already
tried so he knows that you're committed to controlling your cat allergy. He may recommend environmental and dietary changes, medication or immunotherapy (aka allergy shots).
Move His Litterbox to Another Room
All sorts of allergy triggers can be found in your cat's litterbox,
including dander, urine and dust from the litter. If your cat will let you, put
his litterbox in your basement or garage — and while you're at it, ask someone who is not allergic to
clean the litterbox, so you don't have to breathe in those allergens. If that's not possible, wear a mask and wash your hands after you clean it.
Make Your Bedroom a Pet-Free Zone
There's no need to banish your cat from your entire home, but it's a good idea to keep her out of your bedroom — you'll breathe easier and
get better sleep. If your kitty insists on hanging out in your room, try to keep her off your bed. Of course, if all else fails (or you just want to snuggle),
place a washable throw on the bed for her to sleep on and put dust mite covers
on your pillows and mattress.
Invest in HEPA Filters
Clean your carpets, rugs, floors and furniture with a vacuum
that has a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. HEPA filters
can trap small particles, like pet dander. If possible, ask someone in your
family who's allergy-free to do the vacuuming and cleaning, so you don't have to
breathe in the dander. And if you can afford it, you should also consider
getting a HEPA air purifier for your home. Your nose will thank you.
Use Washable Pet Bedding and Throws
Try to wash your cat's bedding and blankets weekly. If your kitty likes to snooze on your
furniture, get some washable slipcovers and launder them frequently,
too. No one really likes to sit on cat fur and dander anyway.
Bathe Your Cat Weekly
Bathe your cat once a week. No, we're not joking. We know
the idea sounds crazy — impossible, even — but giving your cat a nice bath every
week will help reduce his dander levels. Use a shampoo for pets that doesn't dry out his skin and hair. And yes, you can do it without getting
scratched. If possible, start bathing him when he's young. Better yet, ask a
nonallergic member of your family to be responsible for baths and grooming. Between baths, you can wipe your cat's coat off with a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic baby wipe — or have an allergy-free family member do it for you.
Wash Your Hands
It might seem like a no-brainer, but after you pet a cat,
your hands are covered in allergens. Wash your hands after each petting-session. Here’s to less sneezing and more snuggling!