Cat Dander Allergies
"Cat dander allergies are an allergic reaction to dead skin cells that naturally fall off your cat and float in the hair. All cat's have dander. Treatment options include better air filtration, allergy shots, and bathing your cat more often.."
Feline dander allergies are quite common. In fact, up to 25% of all people with allergies are allergic to cat dander. People are more likely to be allergic to cats than to dogs.
There is a lot of misinformation and misconceptions about cat dander allergies. Some believe that cat hair is dander, while others believe that dander is made up of dried cat saliva. Dander is actually dead skin cells. It’s a protein on the skin cells that causes the problem.
We all shed dead skin cells. Often these cells are invisible, but if you’ve ever seen someone with dandruff, you’ve seen dander.
Because everyone, cats included, shed these dead skin cells, there is no such thing as a dander-free breed of cat. There are hairless cat breeds, such as the Sphinx, but since these breeds still shed dead skin cells, they can still cause allergies.
Symptoms of Cat Dander Allergies
Symptoms of feline dander human allergies are generally respiratory symptoms such as runny eyes and nose, coughing, sneezing, hoarseness, and other respiratory problems. It can also cause a rash and itchy skin. It can trigger asthma attacks.
If you have symptoms of feline dander allergies, you should consult a doctor to make sure that’s what is causing your health problems. Don’t worry, though, you may not have to give up your cat. There is treatment available.
Treating Cat Dander Allergies
Dander can float around in the air for some time before it settles on household surfaces. Because it floats in the air, it can then settle even in areas where the cat is not allowed. The first step in treating cat dander allergies is to remove as much dander as possible from the air and from household surfaces. Frequent vacuuming and a good hair filter can help immensely. Using a HEPA-equipped vacuum cleaner Kenmore Progressive 35922 (top pick in Consumer Reports for picking up cat hair) and a Hepa Air Filter is recommended (HEPA stands for high-efficiency particle air filter, and it removes particles from the air by forcing them through a screen with microscopic pores).
Bathing your cat regularly can help remove dead skin cells. Weekly baths are recommended. In between baths, you can rub your cat down with a wet cloth or hand towel.
Some experts believe that un-neutered male cats shed more skin cells due to their hormones. While experts don’t all agree on this, getting your cat neutered may help (it’s a good idea to neuter your cat anyway to prevent unwanted kittens and to lessen territorial marking in your home).
You can see your doctor and discuss allergy shots. In this procedure, you are injected with a small amount of the substance you are allergic to in order to desensitize your immune system and therefore decrease allergy symptoms. You’ll need to see your doctor regularly for injections, or the doctor can show you how to administer them yourself at home.
If all else fails, you can consider keeping your cat outdoors. Dander will still cling to your clothing when you spend time with your cat and you will carry it into your home, but it will be far less dander than if your cat lives indoors.