How To Enjoy Feline Friends Despite Allergies
Some people are afraid of cats and others who dislike them but for those who avoid cats due to being allergic to them, there are ways you can have your favorite allergen as a pet depending on the severity of your allergies. If you have had allergy testing and know you are allergic to cats, it is possible having a cat and doing certain things can help you build up your tolerance to cats. If you have largely the sniffly, sneezy, itchy eye sort of cat allergy reaction, you do not need for eternally forsake your feline friends. Asthmatics, however, may not be as fortunate. Around 30 to 40 percent of children and young adults with asthma are allergic to animal dander – but it can be outgrown in some cases.
Prepare yourself and your home by systematically removing other common allergens before getting a cat. Common home allergens are dust mites and mold. Most allergens also adhere to soft materials such as fabric, carpeting, drapery, and area rugs.
Using washable curtains and washing them weekly or replacing window covering with easy to wipe-down and removing allergens from blinds reduces the places dander and other allergens can hang out and cause problems for the allergy-sufferer. Leather, vinyl, and wipeable non-porous furniture also reduce the places dust mites can get into as dust and airborne irritants love upholstery. Minimizing fabrics also lowers the ability for allergens to stay in the environment. Daily vacuuming of carpets and the daily sweeping of floors also sweeps away dander and other allergens. If you have allergies, avoid lung irritants such as essential oil diffusers which are dangerous to cats and dogs, air freshener plug-ins, potpourri, and those beautifully scented candles you may love but can make allergies worse. A clean house is better than one you need to cover up and fragrance the air in to cover up cooking or residual odors.
You can consider over-the-counter allergy medication approved for indoor and outdoor allergies alike such as Claritin or Zyrtec to deal with the symptoms of allergies. Some people choose to get allergy shots where the body is slowly acclimated to cat dander by weekly injections until the histamine and immune reaction that causes allergy symptoms is eliminated or reduced to bearable. There are also natural remedies some people try. Allergies cause the release of the chemical compound histamine by the body so non-drowsy antihistamine allergy medications are safe and available readily and come in children’s formula as well in case you and your child love the cat but hate the itching nose it causes. Allergy treatment requires physician approval, especially if used for long-term periods such as sharing a home with a cuddly ball of dander.
Once you’ve prepared your home and yourself with allergy treatment, you need to finally expose yourself to a cat and ideally, choose a social cat who always wants to be petted and a friend who only has one or two cats so it’s a controlled exposure. You can ask the owner if you can wipe the cat off with allergen reducing wipes or spray before you arrive and spend some time in that awesome kitty’s company. Take your allergy medication at least a half-hour to 45 minutes before getting “hands-on” or near the test subject. Enjoy your quality cat time and allow 15 minutes of exposure and cut the time shorter if your allergies become symptomatic. Repeat this process and increase the time spent there gradually and enjoy weekly time at your friend’s place and their cats. If you are okay with their cat for an hour, ask another close friend if their cat can join in on the activities and spend time hanging out with other friends and other cats. If all goes well, it is time to step up to the Cat Show.
Ideally, choose a smaller one. Some breeds have breed-specific shows so you can potentially find a cat show featuring the cats that are less likely to trigger allergic reactions (the actual meaning of hypoallergenic). Such breeds are the Sphinx who has a fine sparse hair on their bodies and the equally unusual-looking Rex breeds who have waved fine hair that does not hold dander as normal feline coats do. The Siberian breed is also classified as hypoallergenic. The Siberian appears to lack the Feld1 protein in the cat’s saliva that contributes to dander during the grooming process of fastidious kitties. There is no guarantee these breeds will not cause your allergies to act up, however. Keep trying and taking your allergy meds and sampling the breeds until you find one that does not make you sneeze, snotty or itchy though.
Gradual exposure way to test and push your tolerance. Spending time at an animal shelter is another way to spend time exposed to cats and meet some wonderful ones and provide them with necessary socialization. Let the cats choose you and allow the cats to be the guide to choosing which cats you will take into the visiting room to play with and interact with. Never force a cat to interact with you if the cat is unwilling or disinterested.
If this process and home preparation work and you keep up on home cleanliness and the antihistamines, eventually you may be able to have a cat in your home as a beloved companion without the eyedrops, itching, nasal congestion, and sadness that comes from not being able to spend the time you want with the animal you love the most.