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  • Writer's pictureJan

Can we still own a cat when we are allergic to them?

Many of us assume that if we have allergies, there is no way she should consider owning a cat, I have heard allergy sufferers say it’s simply out of the question ... or is it? If your allergy is related to watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing there could be hope that you can build up your tolerance to cats. Health professionals recommend having some allergy tests carried out before bringing home a cat, particularly if you suffer from asthma. An interesting fact is that 30-40 percent of children and young adults are allergic to animal dander.

According to “allergies to cats are caused by a reaction to certain proteins found primarily in secretions from a cat’s skin and in a cat’s saliva. These proteins stick to your cat’s hair and skin and are released into the environment when shedding occurs".

It is a good idea to start by ridding your home of other possible allergens so that you can be completely sure that it is not something else which could be causing the problem.

  1. Keep any curtains or blinds free of dust and wash them regularly.

  2. Choose leather over fabric furniture (if possible).

  3. Consider replacing carpets with wood or tiled flooring.

  4. Stop using scented candles, potpourri and plug in air fresheners as these can exacerbate allergy symptoms.

  5. Talk to your doctor about medication to relieve your allergies.

Another option is to get up close and personal with a cat by visiting friends who own one or two cats. Use your allergy medication half an hour before the visit and limit your visit to just 15 minutes. Let the cat sniff you and pet it and even let it sit on your lap if you are going well. Try this again the following week, staying for perhaps half an hour. Gradually build up your exposure each visit.

You can reduce the effects of the allergies by choosing your cat carefully. A short haired breed will release less hair. If you want a purebred cat consider a Cornish Rex or Devon as they don’t have as much hair. The Sphinx is hairless and could be another good choice.

Once you have your cat there are a few tips to reduce the risk of allergies:-

  • Wash bedding which your cat sleeps on

  • Don’t allow your cat into your bedroom

  • Have an area in the house just for your kitty

  • Ask someone who isn’t allergic to groom your cat weekly

  • Change litter trays regularly as dander is found in urine as well

  • Wash your hands immediately after petting your cat and avoid eye contact

Hopefully these tips could make the difference between never owning a cat and being able to welcome this bundle of joy into your family. Obviously if your allergies are too severe it is not worth the risk. Many cat owners will tell you that the rewards which come when owning a cat are priceless.

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