The easiest way to get rid of cat allergies would be to get rid of your cat, but that could also be the most difficult way to go about it since studies have shown that pet owners over time develop a type of attachment to their pets, although you don’t have to own a cat to have cat allergies.
Research has it that most Americans have cat allergies, which brings to question why people have cat allergies and what causes them. It’s only by knowing the causes that you can know how to get rid of cat allergies. Plus, several other things could be responsible for your allergies, so how can you tell you have cat allergies?
Causes of Cat Allergies
Generally, allergies are what happens when your immune system detects an allergen and mistakes it for something that could harm you. So in protecting you from harm, it causes you to have allergic reactions.
For cats, however, the allergen detected is called ‘Fel d1’. The Fel d1 is a protein allergen produced mostly in the glands beneath a cat’s skin, but can also be found in their saliva, urine, fur, feces, and dander (dead skin).
When a person who has cat allergies breathes in or comes in contact with this allergen in any of its forms, they’re bound to have an allergic reaction.
In some cases of cat allergy, genetics have been shown to be responsible. That is to say that you’re likely to have cat allergies if there’s a history of someone in the family who has the allergy also.
Symptoms Of Cat Allergies
Cat allergies are mostly similar to other types of allergies. They could range from mild to severe, depending on how sensitive you are, and your level of exposure to the allergen. These also determine how fast you notice the symptoms, for some people, they become allergic the moment they come in contact with cats.
Some common symptoms of cat allergy include:
- Rash on the face, neck, or upper chest
- Swelling and itching of the membranes around the eyes and nose
- Watery, red, or itchy eyes
- Chest congestion
- Shortness of breath
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Itchy throat or chronic sore throat
- Ear pain
How Are Cat Allergies Diagnosed?
As we have seen, the symptoms of cat allergies are not so different from the symptoms of many other allergies. So how can you tell for sure that your allergies are because of a cat?
There are 2 tests an allergist can carry out to diagnose an allergy:
1. Skin Prick Test
This is the most common of the 2 allergy tests your allergist can conduct. It is a closely monitored test that involves the use of a clean sterile needle to prick the surface of your skin, then a small amount of a cat allergen is placed on your skin.
in diagnosing if your allergies are caused by cats, the allergies may be tested for several other allergies at the same time, but if your allergies are caused by cats, then 15-20 minutes after the tests, your skin surface where you were pricked will appear red and swollen. This is usually a positive sign that you have cat allergies.
2. Intradermal Skin Testing
This test is also closely monitored, and although it’s a more effective test than the skin prick test, it can also show a positive result of an allergy even when there is none.
To do the testing, suspected allergens may be injected under the skin of your forearm or arm, and if you’re allergic to the allergen, a red itchy bump will appear on your injected skin surface.
Alternatively, if you have a skin condition that doesn’t allow you to get skin testing, a blood test may be carried out. Your blood sample will be taken to the lab and examined for the presence of antibodies that are common to cat allergens.
How To Get Rid Of Cat Allergies
Having cat allergies can be difficult, with constant wheezing, coughing and any other symptoms you may experience when you come in contact with cats. It’s even more difficult if the cat is yours. Thankfully, there are several ways to get rid of cat allergies, ranging from the use of natural remedies, vaccines, and over-the-counter medicines.
How To Get Rid Of Cat Allergies Naturally
Here are some tips on how to get rid of cat allergies using natural remedies:
1. Keep Your Cats Away From Your Bed
Although you may want to sleep with your cat, because they can be cuddly, to get rid of cat allergies, you should learn to keep them off your bed as they could easily drop particles of their allergen onto your bedding, hence, causing your symptoms to worsen.
You could instead, provide them with their own sleeping space, away from your bedroom so you can have an allergy-free sleeping space.
2. Wash Your Hands After Contact With Them
After petting or playing with your cats, keep your hands away from your face and eyes until you’ve properly washed your hands as you’re likely to get particles of the allergen from their furs to your eyes or nose.
3. Clean Your Beddings Frequently
Particles of cat allergen can circulate in the air, so even if your cats don’t sleep on your bed, you’re still not entirely safe from cat allergies. However, washing your bedding at least once weekly, in water at a temperature of at least 130F, can help you get rid of cat allergies.
4. Invest in HEPA Purifiers
High Efficient Particle Air (HEPA) purifiers are very efficient in getting rid of cat allergens especially those that circulate in the air. To avoid inhaling these particles, place HEPA purifiers in the corners of your house, or at least one in your bedroom and living room.
5. Vacuum 1-2 Times Weekly
Vacuuming 1-2 times weekly will help prevent the buildup of dust, dander, furs or any other allergen that could be causing your cat allergies. A vacuum with a HEPA filter will be more effective in picking up the tiniest particle. It is advised that you wear a mask while vacuuming to prevent your symptoms from getting worse.
6. Take Proper Care Of Your Cat
Caring properly for your cat is one of the most effective ways to get rid of cat allergies.
What this involves is:
- Brushing them regularly to reduce shedding, thereby also reducing dander
- Cleaning their litter box frequently as cat allergens can also be found in their urine and feces
- Bathing them regularly with warm water and pet-safe soap
- Moisturize your cat’s fur before grooming, this will help deactivate allergens, so getting rid of them when you brush your cat won’t be difficult
What Is The Best Allergy Medicine For Cat Allergies?
Sometimes cat allergies may be critical and you may need the help of medicines to feel better.
In such cases, here are some of the best allergy medicine for cat allergies:
- OTC decongestant sprays
- Corticosteroid nasal sprays such as fluticasone or mometasone
- Allergy shots also known as immunotherapy
- Leukotriene inhibitors (singulair)
- Antihistamines such as Benadryl, Claritin, and Zyrtec
- Cromolyn sodium
- Decongestants such as Sudafed
You should know that the use of any of these medicines will not cure your cat allergies, but may help reduce long-term symptoms.
Is There A Vaccine For Cat Allergies?
Yes, there is a vaccine for cat allergies, however, contrary to how vaccines work, these vaccines are not administered to a cat allergy sufferer but to that so they’re unlikely to cause an allergy. Scientists have been busy and successful in creating these vaccines so now you can comfortably be with your cat without worrying about sneezing or coughing much.
Examples of some of these vaccines for cat allergies include:
- HypoPet AG Vaccine: it was created by a pharmaceutical company in Switzerland. The goal of this vaccine is to bind with the cat and neutralize its major allergen (Fel d1). According to studies, this vaccine did reduce the levels of Fel d1 in the blood of cats.
- Purina Pro Plan LiveClear Cat Foods: this is a whole different approach to vaccination, as the company aims to neutralize the Fel d1 allergen in the cat’s saliva via their diet.
Can You Live With Cats If You’re Allergic?
Yes, you can live with cats even if you’re allergic to them, although it may be difficult. But if you implement some of the tips in this article on how to get rid of cat allergies naturally, you should be ok.
Although you can’t cure cat allergies and getting rid of your cat to stop your allergies might be difficult, there are other ways to get rid of cat allergies. However, be sure to go for tests to be sure that your allergies are caused by cats, and to know the right approach to take in getting rid of your allergies.