Living with cat allergies

My husband and I both have moderate allergies, which include cat allergies, and we have two cats.

Reading the book The New Natural Cat by Anitra Frazier changed my outlook on cat allergies. While I always knew, from having grown up with allergies and pets, that your system will adjust to almost any animal contact, I didn’t know that there were things that I could do to make my cat less allergenic.

The most important thing you can do for your cat is feed a high quality cat food. Grocery store and even more upscale brands recommended by vets often have way too much filler in them that are not good for your cats. Your cat has allergies, too! Any food that has too much corn or soy should be avoided, these are not processed well by the cat’s system and will result in more dander. Look for foods with high amounts of meat protein. Cats.about.com has a great compendium of knowledge about different foods and other cat products. Two brands of food we have used with success are Evo by Innova and Feliadae.

Groom your cat or have them groomed. If someone has a severe allergy, another person should brush and wipe down or bathe the cat once a week. I did this when we first got our cat and it made the transition much easier for my husband. You can get allergy pet wipes (like baby wipes) or a product called Allerpet that you can use with a damp cloth. The New Natural Cat book has a lot of tips for making bathing a less traumatic experience for your cat if you need to be that extreme.

In your home, use a HEPA air filter, it is the only kind that can trap the very small particles of cat dander. Read reviews online of any air filter you are thinking of purchasing, there are many. It may also be helpful to get a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter so the allergen does not cycle back into the air when you vacuum.

At least at during the initial adaptation period, try to keep your cat out of your bedroom, where you spend much time breathing deeply!

It is true that gender and skin color effects the amount of fel-d or cat allergen a cat produces. Scientists have now genetically engineered cats to not produce this substance, but for most these cats are prohibitively expensive and morally dubious in a world where hundreds of thousands of cats are euthanized daily.

Spaying and neutering also reduces the amount of fel-d that a cat produces. Male cats are more allergenic than females, and dark skinned cats are more allergenic than light-skin cats. Here is a list of cats in order from least to most allergenic.

1. Female light skin

2. female dark skin

3. male light skin

4. male dark skin

You can tell a cat’s skin color by the color of their paw pads, nose, and fur. White, orange and most tabby cats are light skinned.

Good luck. Don’t let anything keep you from providing a loving home to a pet if you want to do so. Your allergies are workable and will change with time. Doctors are notorious for suggesting getting rid of a pet, but as an allergic asthmatic who has lived both without pets and with them, I can tell you the difference for many of us is not significant. Give you body time to adjust, and maintain an overall clean and healthful environment. And for heaven sakes, don’t rub your eyes after petting your cat!

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