It seems that everyone knows someone who is allergic to cats. What causes this reaction? Is it the fur? What are the symptoms? Can cat allergies get better? Is there anything you can do to live in harmony? That is, without the itchy and watery eyes, the runny nose, the coughing, the sneezing, and the full-on allergic meltdown caused by a cat? There are many myths, misconceptions, and misinformation about allergies and cats. It's time to dispel the fluff and get to the facts. It's time to get on to living in harmony with our furry companions.
Fact or Fluff? Cat Fur Is the Allergy-Trigger?
That's all fluff! People aren't allergic to cat fur. They are allergic to cat dander (shedding skin cells) and saliva. Cat dander is small. As an allergen, it is one of the smallest particles that can hang around the longest. Dander is difficult to get rid of without the proper equipment because of where it comes from (your ever-moving cat). Wherever the cat goes, an invisible trail of dander follows. Cat saliva is also in plenty supply in the home of a cat-owner. Cats are notorious bathers, and all that licking helps to ensure that wherever your cat plops down for a quick cleanup, there is a good supply of saliva left there as well.
Know the Symptoms
So now we know the causes of the allergic reaction, but what are the symptoms? The symptoms of cat allergies manifest themselves in a number of ways. Sometimes it's just a bit of sneezing, but other times, it's a combination of many symptoms. The following conditions are signs of an allergic reaction to cats: sneezing, runny nose, wheezing, coughing, nasal congestion, itchy eyes, watery eyes, rash, and skin irritation. Allergic reactions often emerge immediately, but for some people allergies can be delayed, sometimes appearing well after immediate contact.
Stop the Causes and Create Your Cure
So you are ready to make a change, you know the causes and the symptoms. Now it's time to invest in a few new products: a vacuum, a steam cleaner, an air purifier, kitty wipes (like baby wipes, but for cats), and hand sanitizer. All of these products are effective individually, but they deliver the most powerful results when they are combined. Use them regularly to make sure that your home is as close to an allergy-free zone as possible. Cat-lovers know that living without your cat, well, simply isn't living. So, the following suggestions highlight how to live a more allergy-controlled life with your cat.
Suck It Up, Literally
Using a vacuum with a high-quality filter will assist in removing dander and unwanted cat hair from your home. If used at least twice a week, there will be little dander to be swept into the air. Getting the right vacuum for your situation is important. Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter is critical to trapping the tiny dander, dust, and dirt particles that trigger allergies. A regular vacuum cleaner just can't filter and trap these particles the way a HEPA vacuum can. This is an investment, so compare models carefully before you buy.
Steam Away the Problem Particles
Steam cleaners are an excellent way to clean thoroughly without using harsh unhealthy chemicals that can also aggravate allergies. Steam cleaners allow you to clean soft and hard services safely and effectively. With the right steam cleaner, cleaning up behind kitty is as easy as boiling water. Just like purchasing a HEPA filter vacuum, make sure to do some research before you buy. A steam cleaner will serve your needs well and will come in a range of styles and packaging to best serve your lifestyle. Read our article "Cleaning With Dry Steam" for more information.
Strive for Purity In Your Air
Allergens regularly float through the air. Often, they are so tiny that we don't even notice they are there until the sneezing, coughing, wheezing, and post-nasal drip begins. As mentioned before, cat dander is so small that is remains in the air indefinitely. Therefore, the best way to deal with air allergens is to clean the air. Air purifiers do just that. They clean the air using a specialized filtration system, trapping 97%-99% or more of all allergens. Additionally, air purifiers trap pet hair, which helps to eliminate your contact with cat saliva Air purifiers are a key step in making your indoor environment healthier and in allowing you to breathe easier. Air purifiers come in a variety of heights, designs and room capacities, which makes it easy to find one that works for your indoor space.
Don't Bring Your Problems to Bed
As they say, don't take your problems to bed! If your cat snuggles up in bed beside you, or hops up at the end of the bed for a nice big cat nap, then that's a big problem. The amount of dander and saliva that a cat brings with it to bed would astonish (and disgust) most of us. All that dander and saliva is an itchy, sniffily, wheezing attack waiting to happen. Because as your body relaxes for a night of rest, we often breathe more heavily, open-mouthed as it were, and all that dander floats right on in with each breath we take. The solution? You have to be strong and take the necessary steps to ensure your good health. Therefore, don't let your feline friend lounge in your bed or on your bed (the dander will settle on your sheets and covers when you move it'll be catapulted into the air). This is the hardest step on your road to allergy relief, but it has to be done, for both of your sakes. To ease the transition, spoil your cat with a nice new pet bed. Once this step is completed, you'll sleep better, and be well-rested for some quality time with your pet. And remember, when picking out a pet bed, opt for choices that are washable and, if possible, hypoallergenic.
Clean, Pet, Sanitize, Repeat
Finally, be wise to your eyes. Don't pet your feline friend and then touch your eyes. The result, as we are well aware, is itchy-eye syndrome, which leaves you with watery, swollen eyes. There are a couple of easy remedies to solve this problem. Hand sanitizer and good hand-washing practices will aid you in your quest for allergy freedom. The less time you leave cat dander, saliva, and hair lingering on your skin, the better off you'll be. Also, giving kitty a quick "sponge bath" regularly with pet wipes, which can be purchased at any pet store. This will keep your kitty much cleaner than her existing method of tongue to fur. Cleaning your pet consistently like this will also remove extra hair and assist in your full routine of eliminating the allergy barrier between you and your pet.
By following a cleaning routine where dander and saliva are eliminated from the home, you and your cat can live happily together, almost completely allergy-free. It's important to note that people who suffer from cat allergies usually experience multiple allergies, such as pollen and dust mites.
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