How I Control My Cat Allergy
Here are eight tips to help you with your allergies to cats. It came as a surprise when I learned that I am extremely allergic to cats. However, as an animal communicator, I work with cats every day. My allergies to cats are so bad that if I enter a house where a cat used to live, I’ll start to sneeze, my eyes will water and swell, my nose runs, and sometimes I break out in hives. However, I love cats and will never let allergies keep me away from them.
Here are my top 8 tips for controlling cat-related allergies:
- Take an over-the-counter antihistamine one hour before visiting the home or animal rescue shelter where the animal resides. If you’re allergic to your own cats, take an antihistamine as soon as you wake up in the morning. I’m usually not a big fan of taking prescribed or over-the-counter medications but, it seems to help keep the symptoms at bay.
- Consider taking some homeopathic remedies that focus on allergies and sinus problems in general. I’ve experienced positive results with homeopathic remedies made by Newton Homeopathic or Bach Flower Essences.
- Flush your sinuses, before and after being around cats, with a warm saline solution. Any brand will work but I particularly like the Simply Saline brand.
- Wash your hands and face thoroughly after holding or petting cats.
- Change your clothes and take a shower. This will allow your sinuses to open and drain and wash away any allergens you collected on your skin or clothes.
- Politely ask the owners of the animal to clean the areas where the animal usually stays before you arrive. If you explain to them the reason why, they are usually happy to accommodate.
- Stay out of any areas of the house where cat-related allergens tend to collect. This includes rugs, carpets, curtains and upholstery. Spend most of your time on surfaces that are easily mopped and often cleaned like tile or hardwood floors.
- Avoid playing with the cat’s toys. Toys are rarely, if ever, cleaned or washed. They could harbor many types of bacteria, saliva from the animal and animal dander.
- Additional thought from Admin: a cat allergy shot from your doctor may help. It gets the body used to the allergen by training the body to accept it and not react to it. It is called “immunotherapy”. You GP will talk you through it.
These tips will help you in controlling the allergies that may flare up when you are around cats. There may be other ways to control allergies, of course, but these are the ones that I have tried and that work for me.
Photo credit: Andrew Goloida (modified by Michael)
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P.S. From Michael (Admin). I am not allergic to cats but…a stray cat I fed made me itch. And a boy cat I adopted when my mother died also made me itch. I found that over time my mild allergy dissipated without any intervention. It seems that sometimes the body’s immune system adjusts and adopts. I hope that people with a cat allergy don’t give up on owning a cat.
The allergen that causes an allergic reaction is a protein in the cat’s saliva called Fel D1 which is deposited on the cat’s fur and shed skin (dander). It floats all over the home. It appears that there are two theories as to how people suffer from such a severe reaction. One is that some people have a genetic weakness which leaves them sensitive to certain proteins which when ingested or inhaled in small quantities cause the unpleasant reaction as described by Tim.
The other more prosiac theory (as at 1996 – Dr Morris) is that at childhood the allergic person suffers an emotional trauma associated with cats which causes the allergic response. I think that this theory has been debunked.
A lot of time has been expended on tying to find a cat breed which does not cause an allergic reaction. Big claims have been made. For sure no cat breed is hypoallergenic despite the claims. Some suffers have reported relief when in the company of the Cornish Rex. And the hairless Sphynx should be hypoallergenic but even this cat grooms himself and deposits the protein on his skin. The biologist Dr Morris said that this cat breed was hypoallergenic but he is mistaken because he did not know that the allergen is the protein Fel D1 in the cat’s saliva.
This articles was first published in April 2014. It has been added to and republished in August 2018. The reason? To try and get Google to list it on page one of search results.
I don’t know if you’ve shared the international cat allergy study info, so I want to pass that along. You’re welcome to share it if you like, as a good solution to cat allergies can help keep more cats in their homes, and that’s something I’m concerned about.
Allergic to cats? International study needs participants.
“The CATALYST study is a global medical research study of an investigational treatment designed to relieve cat allergy symptoms.
The main purpose of the study is to determine whether this medication is effective at reducing cat allergy symptoms such as sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes. The CATALYST study is a Phase 3 clinical trial, meaning that the investigational medication has already been used in previous clinical trials and has been found to be safe and well tolerated in people suffering with cat allergy.
More than 1,100 cat allergy sufferers between the ages of 12 and 65 are being recruited from seven different countries to participate in this study.”
Oops. The link to this study is dead. A cached copy of the website shows study was by Circassia LTD. This is info on cat allergy medication on their website – http://www.circassia.co.uk/portfolio/cat/
I’m sharing this for info purposes, in case anyone is interested, since it appears to be different than regular allergy medication and may have the potential to reduce cat allergy symptoms in some people:
“Circassia’s Cat-SPIRE treatment contains seven synthetically produced peptides identified from the main allergen responsible for allergy to cats (Fel d 1). It has successfully completed a number of phase II studies, and achieved unprecedented results. These showed that a short course of treatment substantially reduced patients’ symptoms, while also having a highly favourable safety profile. In long-term follow up, patients’ symptoms remained greatly improved two years after the start of the study, despite no further treatment after the initial four-dose, 12-week course of Cat-SPIRE (p<0.05 vs placebo at the end of the cat allergen challenge). The treatment began phase III testing in October 2012."
Thank You Christine.
Thank you, Christine. I thought for a moment that you were promoting a product because I get lots of spam comments on this website but it seems that you are not. Thank you for your comment and input. I’ve changed my response to your other comment a few times so your notification e-mail will be different to the actual comment!
I’ll be sharing this. I’m more allergic to things the cats may get into when they explore the basement and areas that are difficult to clean. I usually just take OTC allergy medications.
My cat Charlie is the 1st and only cat to whom I have been slightly allergic. I never thought that I had an allergy to cats and I probably don’t but Charlie is a big, black, male cat and although he is neutered he does, for some reason, makes me allergic to him but extremely slightly so I hardly notice it.
This is great – my friend came for 2 weeks and we had to deal with his allergies the whole time. Good article – good to know these ideas ad things!
Great suggestions, thanks!
Very good article in helping people who have probs with allergic probs to cats. .
It is the cat itself or the dander that causes allergic reactions?
I ask because dogs have dander too, as well as ferrets and other mammals.
It’s the dander, which is loose skin particles and saliva.
A very good and informative article Tim, one to share.
The eye in the picture looks like mine if get a cat hair in one. I know it’s my own fault if it happens and an anti histamine and some soothing eye drops put it right.
It hasn’t stopped me living with, working with and volunteering with cats all my adult life.
Ruth, I added the picture from one on the Internet (Flickr) and it is genuine as it is described as a photograph of a person who suffers from a cat allergy. I thought it was appropriate.
Yes,I find that the steps help…it’s remembering to put them in place in advance. I made the mistake of cleaning the cats garage today before I followed the steps…Duh!
Super tips, thank you!