It’s no mystery that allergies are a troublesome thing. For some people, they are down-right debilitating, keeping away a good night’s sleep and shrouding days in a constant migraine. However, their misery is justified as a sacrifice made in the name of love. For some, cats are a source of constant companionship and their company is worth every single sneeze.
Sneezing is just of the many allergy symptoms. Shortness of breath, a runny nose, itchy eyes and an itchy throat are also common sources of suffering. This is because cat dander is a lot more than just hair, it is literally dust. Dander is also made of skin cells and even saliva. These things cause immune systems to release an “allergy protein,” histamine.
Allergy symptoms are caused by this protein and so the easiest way to treat them is with an antihistamine. Non-drowsy Claritin is a great example. Taken 20 minutes prior, it can elevate symptoms for hours. Visiting a friend is much more pleasant without having conversation interrupted every 10 minutes by a “bless you.” If you plan on an extended stay, start taking an antihistamine at least two weeks in advance.
Terrible but true, cat dander should be treated like the flu virus. Hands should be washed constantly and you should be mindful of touching your face. The tiniest amount of contact with cat dander is enough to trigger a reaction and dust can be difficult to avoid. Minimal contact is not the act of touching a cat, which is maximum contact. Minimum contact is unknowingly touching dust and saliva with your hand, and then accidentally transferring it onto your face. Like flu germs, cat dander sticks to everything and clothes should also be washed after exposure. Wash clothes in hot water as soon as possible to prevent the spread of dander from one place to another.
Avoid Comfortable Surfaces
Cats in house covered with carpet are an allergy sufferer’s worst nightmare. Again, dander is dust. It clings to upholstered surfaces. Actually, it clings to smooth ones to, but is a lot easier to clean and maintain. Sufferers, living with cats, will want to rip up as much carpet as possible. Throw mats are a good alternative, since they can be washed often without much trouble. For owners who insist on keeping both cat and carpet, steam cleaners should be used often. It is even recommended that walls and woodwork be scrubbed down weekly to prevent the collection of dander.
Remember that cats like comfortable surfaces just as much as we do and will often be found on couches and beds. In the name of decent night’s sleep, it is best to keep cats completely out bedrooms. You may even want to consider trading out an upholster sofa set for a more slick, leather unit.
Control Air Flow
Cat dander is airborne, making your nose a prime entry point for cat allergens. HEPA air purifiers and filters are essential. Portable HEPA purifiers can even be used to make car rides more comfortable. Home units should run for at least four hours a day. In addition to using HEPA air-conditioner filters, HEPA vacuum filters should be used with every cleaning.
Airborne cat dander can be prevented by dusting with a wet rag instead of a dry cloth. It can’t be stressed enough that cat allergens hide in dust. This means that a tidy home without messy corners will be more comfortable for allergy sufferers. Having fewer things means that dust has fewer places to collect. Along with keeping a clean home, covering air-conditioner vents with a cheese cloth is another good way to control the amount of dander in your air supply.
Learn more about pet allergies.