Have Cat Allergies? Here’s Why!
Wonder why you get a little sneezy or itchy when your cat gets in your face or rubs all over you? Many people who have cats are actually allergic to them, but few really know why. Here’s a look at what makes us allergic to our dogs and cats.
The cause of your animal allergies may seem simple, but it’s probably a bit more complicated than you think.
“The hair is what people see, so that’s what they expect to be allergic to,” says Robert M. Zuckerman, MD, an allergist and immunologist and associate professor of medicine at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center of Pennsylvania State University in Hershey.
In reality, a protein secreted by the sebaceous (oil- producing) glands and released with the dog’s dander (dead skin cells) and saliva is the culprit. This protein, dubbed “Can f 1” by scientists, is so tiny that it sneaks its way through fabrics and flows like air through an ordinary vacuum bag.
So even when the hair is gone, tiny particles with the protein still hang around, waiting to land on your nose and eyes or be inhaled into your lungs.
Also confusing is the fact that pet allergy symptoms may not show up right away, so you may not realize your symptoms are caused by your pet.
This happens because allergies are caused by the production of certain antibodies, and it takes a varying amount of time for people to develop those antibodies and become sensitized to their pets.
If your allergy enemy is Garfield and not Snoopy, then a protein in cat dander and saliva, known as “Fel d 1,” is the source of your trouble.
“The problem with cats is that the primary source of the allergen comes from the saliva,” says Robert B. Feldman, MD, an allergy expert at the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons.
“They groom themselves, and when the saliva dries, it flakes off into microscopic particles that float throughout the house.”
– via Prevention
Ways To Help Keep Your Cat Allergies At Bay
Looking for ways to help keep your cat allergies down? Here are a few helpful tips that will keep you and your family happy, while allowing you to spend quality time with your furry baby.
Designate your bedroom as a cat-free zone.
Begin your program of allergen reduction by washing bedding, drapes and pillows. Better yet, replace them. Use plastic covers that are designed to prevent allergens from penetrating on your mattress and pillows.
Allergen-proof covers are available from medical supply outlets. Don’t expect results overnight. Cat allergens are one-sixth the size of pollens, and it may take months to reduce them significantly.
Restrict your cat’s access to designated areas inside your home.
If you have a safe outdoor enclosure, allow your cat some time outside where dander will waft away in the wind. Brush your cat in the fresh-air enclosure to prevent loose, allergen-carrying hair from dispersing through your home.
Eliminate allergen traps such as upholstered furniture and rugs.
Carpet can accumulate up to 100 times the amount of cat allergens as hardwood flooring, so replacing the wall-to-wall with wood will keep allergens from accumulating as much. If ripping up the carpet is not an option, have it steam cleaned as often as needed.
Vacuuming blows as many allergens through the air as it removes, so when you vacuum, use an allergen-proof vacuum cleaner bag or a vacuum cleaner with a high efficiency particulate arresting (HEPA) filter.
Get some fresh air.
Highly insulated homes trap allergens as well as heat, so open the windows to increase the ventilation in your home, and run window fans on exhaust. (But remember to always screen windows so kitty stays safely indoors.)
Also, clean the air inside your home. Although nothing will remove all of the allergens present, running an air cleaner with a HEPA filter will help.
– via Petfinder
How do you deal with your cat allergies? Do you have to keep your cat out of certain parts of the house or are they allowed everywhere?