Can I keep my cat when I’m allergic to cats?

‘Do I have to give away my feline friend? Can’t I keep my cat even if I’m allergic to cats? It’s a question that’s asked right after someone finds out that they are allergic to cats.’ If you’re wondering the same thing, then see the full question and answer below.

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Q: ‘We love our cats, especially our kids. But are they killing me? I have cat allergies and I’m having a hard time breathing and I get itchy eyes and headaches.’

A: Unfortunately the best course of action is probably to give away your cat, especially if you find out you have severely allergies. There is no such things as an allergy-free cat, and the main cat allergen [actually their dried saliva] is particularly resistant to clean up even after the cats have left your home. Getting cat allergen out of the house can take many months after the cats have gone. I presume by your question, you want to explore other alternatives before giving the cats away. If you go to your allergist, you can get immunization shots especially designed for cats. They will take a while to take full effect, it can take up to 2 years of immunizations, but only have about an 80% success rate. We have three cats ourselves and I have allergies to cats which register 7 on a 9-point scale- so my allergies are reasonably severe. I coexist very happily with our cats. Here is what I have done to help my allergies; I can’t guarantee the same program will work for you.

  1. No more cats sleeping on the bed. Sorry, this is a small price to pay for allergy relief.
  2. No more cats in the bedroom, ever! Your bedroom should be a sanctuary from allergens.
  3. Wash all bedding in 140 degree water at least twice monthly. This eliminates both dust mite and cat allergen.
  4. Vacuum up cat allergen with a high grade HEPA vacuum cleaner twice weekly. Vacuum walls, carpet, flooring, chairs, and furniture…everywhere. Use the hand tools on the vacuum. We use a Miele vacuum cleaner.
  5. Use a higher-end HEPA air purifier in the bedroom. Cat allergens are difficult to remove a good HEPA filter is essential. We have a large selection of styles and types of HEPA air purifiers.
  6. Use a Sanvic Pulsatile Nasal Irrigator to clean out the allergens in your nostrils on a daily basis. This alone will reduce your absorption of allergens by at least fifty percent. Irrigators have been the subject of a great deal of research and has been found to be extremely effective assisting with sinusitis and allergen reduction. Irrigation is a pretty simple process and will leave you breathing easier.
  7. Wash your hands after touching your pets to remove allergens and keep them from getting on you or being rubbed in your eyes.
  8. Cat Washing some people wash their cats to reduce cat allergen in the air, but the research seems to be conflicted on the results. One proven technique is Allerpet, a well known brand of a liquid which you can be applied to your cats’ coat is reduce dander, available from your local veterinarian.
  9. Allergen Level Testing – even if you do all this you probably will not reduce the allergen too much in your bedroom. One way to monitor your efforts would be to do some ‘before and after’ testing.

Keeping a cat when you have allergies is possible with a concerted effort, and is only for those people like myself who are care enough enough about their feline friends to go to all this trouble. Good Luck!