Cat Allergies – What Are They, What Is Causing Them, And How To Cope With Them

So, you’ve finally given in to your child’s request to get a pet cat. Or you’re just thinking of welcoming a new feline companion into your home for the very first time ever.

It’s exciting, and maybe even a bit scary, because there’s a chance that you or somebody else residing in your household could be allergic to cats. What happens then?

According to the ASPCA, around 7.6 million domesticated pets end up in animal shelters each year and approximately 3.4 million of these pets are felines. One of the biggest reasons pet parents give up their cats is the allergy factor.

Unfortunately, not all dumped cats go to shelters.

Many of them actually end up as homeless animals living out on the streets in extremely harsh living conditions.

Wanting to get a pet isn’t enough. It takes patience, love, and proper care, especially when it comes to capricious creatures like felines. If you can’t fully commit to your pet, or if you happen to be allergic to it, you’ll find yourself in an unpleasant situation.

Allergies can occur in people of all ages. So, before you make the commitment of adopting or purchasing a feline furball, you should carefully consider how to cope if you do discover someone living in your house has cat allergies. You don’t want to leave a kitty homeless!

What Are Cat Allergies?

What does it mean when somebody says they are allergic to cats?

Well, they aren’t actually allergic to the whole cat. It may seem that way because of the symptoms cat allergies invoke. Coughing, rashes, wheezing, sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and irritated skin are just some of the most common symptoms of pet allergies.

Many people wrongly believe that they are allergic to cat hair. The kitty’s hair is a partial factor, but it’s not what’s causing the allergic reactions.

The allergy itself is triggered by an allergen agent called Fel-d1.

This feline allergen is abundant in the cat’s saliva, occasional dandruff, urine, feces, tears, dead skin cells, and skin flakes.

Cats lick themselves more often than any other animal species. When they’re cleaning themselves they are scattering the Fel-d1 allergen all over the place. It goes on their fur, in the air, on the carpet – it’s basically everywhere. The very same thing happens when they are using the litter box.

Unlike other pet allergen agents (like the ones found in dogs, for example), feline allergens remain airborne. This means that Fel-d1 particles will remain in the air and will also pile up on furry surfaces like carpets and rugs.

Cat breeds with shorter hair length will release more Fel-d1 because their short fur won’t be able to hold this allergen against the skin as easily as long-haired cat breeds.

The allergies occur when a person who happens to be allergic to the Fel-d1 protein is exposed to a thick abundance of the allergen in the air, or comes into contact with a cat whose fur is full of dead skin cells containing Fel-d1. This is when the sneezing, the coughing, and the other symptoms start occurring.

The allergic reaction may start immediately or within several hours after the contact has been made – it basically depends on the person and the level of intolerance they have.

How Much Fel-d1 Do They Give Off? Do Males Have More Than Females?

The levels of feline allergens depend on the kitty’s breed, fur length, gender, and other factors such as neutering and spaying.

For example, neutered male cats produce less of the Fel-d1 protein. On the other hand, if you happen to be sensitive to this allergen, it won’t matter if your female furball is spayed or intact – it will still release enough Fel-d1 to trigger an allergic reaction.

Felines with darker coats usually release more Fel-d1 than lighter-colored cats.

Even if you or your kids are sensitive to the Fel-d1 allergen, it doesn’t mean that you can never look after a kitty in your house or apartment. Having cat allergies isn’t ideal, but you can still get a kitty if you’re ready to commit to taking care of your cat and the allergies.

Cat Breeds That Are Good For People With Cat Allergies

There are some breeds which are considered more tolerable among people who suffer from pet allergies, but there still aren’t any 100% hypoallergenic cat breeds.

Several feline breeds are closer to ideal companions for people suffering from cat allergies. For example, the Oriental Shorthair breed is among the most suitable cat breeds for pet owners who are sensitive to the Fel-d1 allergen.

The exotic Sphynx cat is considered unsightly by many people, but its soft fluff coat and lack of fur are less abundant in Fel-d1 than other long-haired breeds’ furry coats. This makes it a good companion when it comes to cat allergies.

By default, taking care of a feline isn’t an easy task. While cats don’t require as much attention, feeding, walks, etc., as dogs, for example, they still require a lot of commitment. They have strict diet needs, especially when they are young or overweight, need vitamins, exercise, entertainment, and most of all – love and affection.

But the most important requirement, especially when it comes to pet owners with pet allergies, is dealing properly with fur shedding.

Since the allergen remains airborne, Fel-d1 levels in your home will be greater if you don’t control your precious furball’s fur shedding.

Allergen levels aren’t the only problem which will occur if you don’t clean after your kitty.

Due to the fact that they are constantly licking their furry coats, cats tend to swallow hairballs. This causes the swallowed hair to build up inside their bodies. Big hairballs can be fatal to your kitty as they cause a number of health-related problems in its intestines and the overall gastrointestinal system.

How To Cope With Cat Allergies – Are There Any Treatments Or Cures?

Apart from carefully choosing the cat breed, there are numerous other ways to cope with cat allergies.

If you’re ready to undertake the task of looking after a kitty and you’re willing to be patient, committed, well-informed, and positive about what’s about to come, you can easily live with a feline companion regardless of how severe you might think your allergy is.

Here are some tips and tricks on how to cope with your Fel-d1 intolerance.

Clean Often

Cleaning after your pet is essential not only to you and to your kitty, but also to your guests and the rest of the people residing in your household. There are various cleaning supplies for hard surfaces which are hypoallergenic and ideal for wiping the surfaces in your home. It goes without saying that nobody wants to get cat hair stuck on their clothing or find it in their bowl of cereal.

Not to mention the fact that the lingering smell of cat food and cat excrement are absolutely horrifying.

Teaching your cat how to do its business inside the litter box and cleaning the litter on a regular basis is absolutely crucial, especially for people suffering from Fel-d1 intolerance since the allergen is highly abundant in the cat’s urine and feces.

Some litter boxes and litter types are more efficient than others, so don’t be afraid to spend some extra bucks on a good cat toilet.

Vacuum Frequently (Maybe Daily)

If you’re about to adopt or purchase a cat, you should arm yourself with a new, powerful vacuum. If you have an old one that’s down to its last gasp, it just won’t do the trick.

Scattered cat hair is bad for you and for your cat. Apart from that, it will also increase the levels of Fel-d1 in your home. If you have carpets or rugs, you should probably get rid of them or at the very least clean them regularly.

Don’t Allow Your Cat In Your Bedroom Or Other Areas You f

If you’re suffering from cat allergies, you should never allow your feline pet to walk inside your bedroom. It should be the ultimate no-cats-allowed area of your home.

Even if your kitty doesn’t enter the bedroom, you can still bring in cat hair, dust particles ,and airborne Fel-d1 protein inside with your slippers, socks, and the rest of your clothing.

Another bedroom-related rule you should always follow is changing your sheets, pillowcases, and other types of bed linen on a regular basis. Always wash them with hot water and use effective detergents.

Get Air Cleaners/Purifiers

We already went over the fact that the feline allergen remains airborne, so it’s of extreme importance to keep the air in your house or apartment as pure as possible.

Air purifiers, especially the automatic ones, are a great way to refresh the air around you.

Air filters, however, are your best option when it comes to sharing your accommodation with a feline furball, regardless of the amounts of Fel-d1 it will produce. HEPA air filters are the must-have filters for people suffering from feline allergies.

Our favorite air purifier for a smaller space (bedroom, for example) is this Winix unit.

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Groom Your Cat Regularly (Or Have Someone Groom It)

It should go without saying that you must groom your cat as regularly as possible.

There are plenty of de-shedding tools for cats which are great not only for short-haired breeds, but also for notoriously long-hair cats like the Persian, for example. De-shedding brushes and gloves are must-have items if you happen to be intolerant towards the Fel-d1 protein.

Apart from brushing your kitty, there are also various other ways it requires proper grooming – clipping and trimming nails, removing dandruff, trimming fur, getting rid of tangled hair balls … the list goes on and on.

Bathe Your Cat Regularly

Giving a bath to a cat is one of the most stressful experiences not only for a cat, but also for its owner.

Cats do clean themselves, but contrary to popular belief, they actually need to be bathed by their owners, even if they aren’t allowed to roam outdoors. Cats with medium-long or short hair should be bathed no more than once every two months, but cats with longer fur need to be bathed each month.

If you’re suffering from cat allergies, you’ll need to bathe your kitty on a regular basis. There are various pet shampoos out there and some of them are even hypoallergenic.

There’s no easy way to go through a kitty bath without a few scratches, but it will be your job as a pet parent to make the unpleasant experience of giving a bath as comfortable and calm for your feline furball as possible.

Cat Allergy Medication

Cat allergies aren’t uncommon.

The AAFA states that 3 in every 10 people suffer from pet allergies in the US alone, and cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies.

In this day and age there are various ways to treat your intolerance towards the Fel-d1 protein. Getting allergy shots is one of the most effective ways to battle allergic reactions.

Ways To Treat Your Pet To Reduce Allergens

Taking care of your own health when it comes to pet allergies should be your priority. However, you can also treat your feline pal for the Fel-d1 problem.

Here are the top 3 choices among the best products the market has to offer nowadays.

Allerpet dander remover

Allerpet is the most efficient brand in the fight against the excessive Fel-d1 release.

Their dander remover is designed for cats of all breeds and hair lengths. This product is not only affordable, it’s also among the top leading anti-allergy products for kitties.

So, what is a dander remover?

It’s basically a conditioner which removes the dander from your feline pal’s skin and fur, as well as the dead skin cells which get tangled in your cat’s fur and then get scattered all over your home.

Allerpet’s conditioner softens your cat’s fur and can be used on a weekly basis. It decreases the Fel-d1 levels significantly and protects you and the rest of the people residing in your household from the allergen.

Needless to say, the product is 100% cat-friendly and won’t harm your kitty’s fur in any way.

The conditioner is moisturizing, odorless, and non-oily. On top of all of these amazing advantages, Allerpet’s product offers a great opportunity for you to interact with your kitty. Your feline pet will adore all of the rubbing and petting it will get from you while you’re applying the conditioner.

It shouldn’t be used as a shampoo substitute, but it will do wonders which no pet shampoo can ever achieve.

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Allersearch Laboratories anti-allergen shampoo

Speaking of pet shampoos, here’s the best one for cat allergies.

Allersearch Laboratories’ anti-allergen pet shampoo acts as a shampoo and an extra conditioner for your cat’s fur and it also neutralizes the allergen agents.

The hypoallergenic formula of the shampoo consists of plant-based and root-based extractions which are non-toxic to you and your kitten. The all-natural formula of the shampoo makes it completely bio-degradable, and the guys over at Allersearch Laboratories have made sure that the product is odorless and lacks ammoniates, dyes, and other types of harmful ingredients.

Apart from removing the allergen agents from your cat’s skin and fur, this shampoo also removes any lingering odors and smells, while protecting your pet’s fur and sensitive pH levels.

Unlike the dander removing conditioner, you can’t apply this product on a weekly basis, simply because it’s a wet shampoo product and you shouldn’t bathe your cat that often. However, the effect of one treatment with this shampoo lasts up to 30 days.

Like most good pet shampoo brands, Allersearch protects your precious pet against pests like fleas and ticks.

Lastly, this product is not only effective and anti-allergenic, but also quite affordable.

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Earthbath cat wipes

You can use the conditioner on a weekly basis and the shampoo no more than once a month. But what about daily treatments for your kitty?

Earthbath’s cat wipes have you covered.

If you haven’t heard of cat wipes before, here’s your chance to get the best ones out there – at least when it comes to battling allergic reactions to the Fel-d1 protein.

You can use this product on a daily basis to wipe your precious furry creature’s hair and skin. It will remove dander, dirt, dusty particles, excessive saliva left on the fur, and any other substances which may contain the Fel-d1 allergen.

The wipes will brighten up and soften your cat’s fur coat significantly. They are made out of natural, non-toxic ingredients which include Vitamin E, awapuhi extract (known also as shampoo ginger), and aloe vera.

Earthbath’s packages of cat wipes include a total of 100 wipes for daily use, which won’t break your budget.

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If you equip yourself with the above-mentioned three products for your cat, along with all the other essential grooming and cleaning products, you won’t have to deprive yourself from the affectionate and loving relationship you can have with a feline pet.

The important thing is to remember that you have to treat yourself (and the rest of the people residing in your household), your feline pal, and your home environment with specially designed hypoallergenic products. Your health and the health of your pet should come as your priority at all times and at all costs.

People all over the world experience allergic reactions to the Fel-d1 protein, but many of them still have feline pets and manage to battle the allergies. As long as you’re willing to show patience, love, and enough commitment to your kitty, you’ll end up with a playful, lovable, and unique companion.

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Emily Parker

Emily Parker is the Content Manager at Catological. She's passionate about helping cat parents love their cats better by providing the best information and recommendations about everything you'll need to know about your cat, from kitten to senior years. She believes natural, biologically-appropriate products are best...why wouldn't you provide the best for a member of your family?!

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