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Though it may seem unlikely, the number of cat owners with allergies is rising. 20% of adults worldwide have cat allergies, and that percentage is only expected to grow. Fortunately, if you’re among those whose best friend is a feline and you can’t stop sneezing around them, you don’t have to take the drastic step of giving your cat away.
Cat owners in similar predicaments have developed tried-and-true strategies to fortify their health and make sure they don’t have to give up the company of their capricious pets. Here are some of them.
Choose a hypoallergenic breed
It’s important to note that there is no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic cat. What causes allergies in the first place is Fel D1, a protein that resides in a cat’s saliva, urine, and dander (flakes of dried skin). Though all cats produce this protein, the type of coat and shedding levels can affect the level of Fel D1 present in their bodies.
When you discern which breed you want to bring home, give special attention to their coat. Some of the best hypoallergenic cat breeds you can adopt are the Balinese, which is a long-haired cat that only has one, gorgeous coat; the Devon Rex, which has very fine fur; and the Sphinx, which is almost hairless.
The first step to a clean, pet-friendly home: bathe your cat frequently—but since cats are generally averse to water, this might be difficult for you to pull off. However, bathing your cat at least more often than normal can reduce the allergens present in your cat’s fur and help them maintain healthy skin.
You should also look to keep your house clean and fur-free. While this can sound intimidating, you can make this routine. For example, the 2020 Architectural Digest article “The Art of Having a Pet and a Clean House at the Same Time” suggests getting in the practice of spritzing your pet’s food bowls with cooking spray to prevent stains from setting in. Another suggestion: keep latex gloves or lint rollers on hand to get pet hair off your furniture and clothes. If it gets too overwhelming, consider hiring a cleaning service or trying this next tip.
Invest in helpful tech
The latest technology can help you with your pet allergies, especially if you find it challenging to follow the tips above. Since cat hair is the primary source of said allergies, contemplate getting a robot vacuum to comb through your living areas. Roomba is one of the most recognizable and reliable brands in this regard, and the iRobot Roomba s9+ in particular is lauded as one of the best for pet hair. It uses a patented Three-Stage Cleaning system that works on multiple floor types, so you’re guaranteed a deep clean even if your home is covered in high-pile carpets.
You can also consider investing in an air purifier to relieve your allergies and diffuse unpleasant pet odors. Purifiers with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter are considered to be among the best air purifiers for pets because of the filter’s ability to eliminate up to 99.97% of the particle pollutants from the air that passes through them. The Rabbit Air MinusA2 Ultra Quiet Air Purifier is the gold standard with its six-stage filtration system and user-friendly display. With both a robot vacuum and an air purifier, you can easily keep the floors and air of your home allergen-free—especially if you’re busy and don’t have time to do these tasks on your own.
Set boundaries with your cat
If you’re allergic, it’s important to have some cat-free areas in the house whenever you need a break. You can do this by setting boundaries with your cat. This can take the form of physical boundaries, like fenced-off areas or closed doors. If you choose to take this route, introduce these physical boundaries early—or your cat might spend the next few weeks scratching the door in protest.
You can also establish boundaries with your pet by reinforcing good behavior. Shower them with attention only when they comply with your rules, and try spending time with them consistently in areas far from your cat-free zones.
Have your medication ready
Even with the best of efforts, you won’t be able to banish your allergy symptoms completely. Be mindful of your body’s reactions—and always have medication nearby just in case. You can take antihistamine tablets to alleviate runny noses. Off-shoots like antihistamine eye drops can help reduce redness and swelling. Meanwhile, you can try immunotherapy, which involves getting allergy shots, to train your immune system to be less sensitive to Fel D1.
While you might adore your cat, it’s also important to be mindful of your health. Follow the tips above to ensure your living space is a warm, hospitable environment for both you and your beloved furry friend.
Article contributed by Rachel Jennings