An estimated 6 million Americans are allergic to cats and approximately one third of them have cats in their home. Cat allergy is cause by a protein present in the dander (skin flakes) and saliva of cats. The allergens (things which cause allergies) become airborne as microscopic particles which, when inhaled into the nose or lungs, can produce allergic symptoms. These symptoms include runny nose and sinus congestion, itchy eyes, sneezing, rash or skin itching, hives, shortness of breath and wheezing.
Cat allergen is present to the greatest extent in homes with cats, but has also been found in homes where cats have never been present and in offices and public spaces where animals are not allowed. Cat dander is particularly sticky and is carried on clothing. It is almost impossible not to be exposed to some level of cat allergen.
We suggest you consider the following to help you prevent or reduce expose to cat allergen:
- Keep your cat outdoors, if possible.
- When this is not possible, keep your cat out of your bedroom and keep the door closed. While we do not recommend having a cat in the household, studies have shown that bathing them regularly (every two weeks) can dramatically reduce the amount of dander a person is exposed to.
- Vacuum cat hair off floors and furniture regularly.
- Wash your hands after touching the cat.
- Run a HEPA air purifier in your bedroom 24 hour a day to filter cat allergen out of the air (but remember, many cats can produce more allergen then the air filter can filter)
If symptoms persist, see your doctor or an allergist to discuss treatment option available to help you feel better.