cat on arms

What causes the allergy to cats

Being allergic to cats is one of the biggest issues when wanting to adopt a feline friend. However, there are some misconceptions regarding this topic that need to be clarified. Also, some common-sense things that you can do so that you can actually be allergic and live with cats harmoniously.

The cause of the allergy to cats

First, what is actually causing the allergy to cats? One of the first big misconceptions is that we are allergic to a cat’s fur. However, what you’re allergic to is a protein called Fel d1 that is contained in a cat’s saliva. When a cat cleans themselves then that saliva dries on their fur it flies off in the form of dander and that’s what you’re allergic to.

So just because you have allergies to cats doesn’t mean you have to give up the possibility to have a cat. Different cats make different amounts of that protein that is, of Fel d1 that would usually trigger the allergy so that’s good news for all you cat lovers.

So you could be allergic to some cats and not all of them, and you could have a cat in your life.

What can you do if you are allergic to cats

cat allergy
Photo by Brittany Colette.

the first thing that you want to do if you’re allergic to cats and you want to live with cats is going to see an allergist. It is important to do an allergy test on you to confirm whether you are allergic to FAL d1 and then to determine a proper course of action. for instance, over-the-counter antihistamines could be helpful if you were moderately allergic.

In the case that you were less moderately allergic to cats, a course of immunotherapy could make the big change. Immunotherapy is getting allergy shots twice a week for about six months. Afterward, you get boosters for a few years. It’s a great thing to try if you really want to live with animals. But, remember to consult the doctor before trying anything.

A cat-allergic friendly household

Some things that can be done to keep FAL d1, the allergen protein from floating around your house is to think about the things that the allergies themselves would bind to all of your house, anything that is made with fabric is going to be a trap for those things.

First of all, vacuuming on a regular basis is very important, and the great thing is that vacuums themselves have come a long way, especially with the advent of HEPA filters and how a lot of these vacuums have HEPA filters in them.

Also, having HEPA air filters in every room. it helps with smell and it also helps with any particular allergens that are floating around these HEPA filters. These HEPA filters can reduce up to 99% of floating allergens in your house, not just cats but everything else as well.

cat meowing
cat meowing. Photo by Elena Mozhvilo.

Another thing that can be done is to decrease the number of surfaces that hold on to dander around the house.

For instance, instead of having drapes, you can have blinds, something that you can clean and not have to vacuum. The same thing with carpets versus hardwood floors.

Brushing your cat is always important, especially with cats that you’re allergic to, in order to remove that dander and dead hairs from them before they go flying off into the air and get up your nose and everything else.

In this case, try if a non-allergic family member could do the brushing. If you have a catio you can bring them out to the catio to brush them so the hair flies off in another direction.

You can even brush while wearing a mask to avoid those hairs going up your nose. That’s a great proactive thing to do and it’s also really good for your cat.

Does bathing a cat make him less allergic?

One misconception is that bathing your cat on a regular basis would help to make him less allergic. However, it really won’t work. It actually strips your cats of their natural oils, which those oils are not what causes the allergy, it is the saliva, and no matter how many times you bathe your cat they’re still gonna have saliva.

Hygiene for your cat to reduce the allergen

Another thing that you want to do for your cat anyway, but it also helps with allergies to a certain degree is trimming their nails on a regular basis, because they scratch themselves and get some of that protein under their nails, and when your receive a little love scratch you would have it under your skin.

A lesser-known source of the allergen is in a cat’s urine so another thing to do that’s really important is to clean your cat’s litter box regularly about multiple times a day to make sure the urine isn’t just sitting there.

Furthermore, use a litter that clumps well and doesn’t track all over the place. just a really good litter is going to help.

embracing your cat
Photo by Pure Julia

Then, make sure that you’re washing your cat’s bedding regularly or at the very least, you’re using a little sticky roller and making sure that you’re picking up the hair off of their beds along with the rest of your furniture. Anyway, the less that you have in the house that will hold on to this protein, to the hair, to the dander, is going to help you in the long run.

Hypoallergenic cats

First of all, no cat is hypoallergenic, all cats make the protein fil d1 that’s in their saliva and in their dander.

However, there are certain breeds who have been known to be less allergenic but there is still a chance that you could be alergic to those cats. In other words, there’s no guarantee whatsoever, even with hairless cats could be a chance that you will be allergic to them.

Don’t try to change the cat in order to be able to live with them, change your environment do what you can to change yourself to live with your cat.

Buying expensive breeds of cats thinking that they’re not gonna be allergic, but finally, result in them being allergic, could have the consequence of rehoming these cats. Breeders should be responsible when informing about cats.

If you found this article helpful and know somebody who is allergic to cats, please share it with them!