Itching. Sneezing. Wheezing. Rashes. Weepy eyes. Coughing. Yes, all those lovely feelings our feline friends elicit in allergy sufferers are so not worth it. The many symptoms of cat allergies are just as unbearable as kittens are adorable. It's the ultimate conflict for lovers of feline affection. The first step to getting rid of cat allergies is to know what causes cat allergies. I'll give you a hint: it's a protein called Fel d 1 in cat saliva and emitted from glands under the skin. It is neither hair nor dander that causes cat allergies. However, this protein does stick to the hair and dander, and therein lies the cat allergy problem.
It sounds like there's no hope left. Yet, if you can't bear the thought of living without a cat in your life, there is hope. With some lifestyle changes (that don't involve shaving your cat), mild to moderate allergy sufferers can welcome a cat into their lives. Some people, like it or not, simply cannot live with cats. If you don't want to get rid of cats in your life altogether, try these next steps.
Getting Rid of Cat Allergies
To help get rid of cat allergies, choose your cat carefully. Certain cat breeds, while not hypoallergenic, emit less of the Fel d 1 protein than others. Those breeds are listed in the left sidebar. There have been no scientific studies to substantiate any "allergy-free cats" sold by some breeders, so don't waste your money. Unaltered (not fixed) male cats emit more of this protein than altered (fixed) males, or females. Therefore, choose a female, if possible. Get her altered (fixed) as soon as possible, to reduce allergens. Also, owners of lighter colored cats tend to report less cat allergy symptoms than those of darker colored cats. Long and fine hair tends to trap more allergens, so a short-haired is probably a safer bet.
Limit cat exposure to get rid of cat allergy symptoms. If you already have a cat, then banish your cat to certain areas of the household. Under no circumstances should the cat be allowed into sleeping areas of allergy sufferers. Any reduction of cat shedding where you put your face will be helpful. This includes the laundry room, laundry baskets, hampers, drawers, walk-in closets, and any other place the cat can shed amongst fabric that will go near your face. On this note, do not banish your cat outdoors. Cats are domestic animals, and outdoor cat life expectancy is about 25 percent less than that of an indoor cat's life expectancy. Cats need shelter from the elements, predators (such as roaming dogs), and from other cats that may carry diseases.
Bathe your cat to get rid of cat allergens. Go directly for the source. Bathing a cat once or twice a week won't hurt it. If you choose not to suffer from the claw-and-tooth-tornado that is a wet cat, drop him or her off at a groomer. Brush out long-haired cats before bathing. Please, only use cleaners that are specifically designed for cats, as people shampoo can cause skin problems. Aside from weekly bathing, be sure to brush the cat daily to reduce shedding around the household. Then, simply wipe down the cat with a damp rag. Daily full-submersion is not necessary to reduce allergens, though it should still be done once a week.
Clean frequently to get rid of cat allergies. That nasty Fel d 1 protein sticks to cat hair, and cat hair sticks to everything. Especially fabrics. Replace fabric curtains with blinds, choose hard floors over carpeting, and vacuum everything that you can reach. Wipe down everything else: walls, vents, door frames, and light fixtures. Anything that can collect dust can also collect cat allergens. Harsh cleaners aren't needed. A mixture of water with either vinegar or baking soda can clean just about anything well enough to reduce cat allergy symptoms. Don't forget to frequently clean air filters and screens that capture airborne allergens. When in doubt, clean it, and it should help reduce cat allergies.
See your doctor for cat allergy treatments. If other practices don't help your cat allergy symptoms, go and see your doctor. There are prescription options for people that suffer from severe cat allergies. First, there may be prescription antihistamines that can be more effective than over-the-counter antihistamines. Second, a doctor may suggest immunotherapy, a series of shots designed to lessen allergy symptoms by reducing your sensitivity to a particular allergen. Though expensive and time-consuming, allergy immunotherapy can be incredibly effective. Expect two to five years for the entire process, with multiple doctor visits per month. This is a process really meant for the most severe of allergy sufferers, not someone who just gets the sniffles.
The Sphynx Cat
There are many misconceptions about this particular breed of cat. The most important is for potential owners to understand that this cat is not hypoallergenic. There are no cats that are completely free of the Fel d 1 protein that causes cat allergies. This type of cat is simply easy to bathe, thereby removing the allergens that cause symptoms. Also, this hairless breed of cat is not actually completely hairless. They are covered in a peach-fuzz of very short hair. The skin of the Sphynx should be washed weekly to remove oils and the Fel d 1 protein that can build up. Otherwise, they are just like any other cat out there: cute, playful, snuggly, and loving.
If you choose to invite a Sphynx cat into your life, please look for a rescue cat first. There are millions of cats in this world that need homes. If you cannot find one, then make sure to find a responsible breeder (not a backyard breeder) to make sure that future kittens and cats are free of genetic conditions that can sometimes plague purebred breeds.