New York City
Allergy Attack from your cat?!
Folks often write us asking about Siamese because they think that Siamese are less (or more) allergenic than other cats. This is simply NOT true!
|Allergies are caused by a protein in the cat's saliva. How does this get to you? When a cat grooms itself with its tongue, the saliva dries on its coat and skin to become airborne as dander. Because all cats groom similarly regardless of coat length, all cats cause the same allergic reaction!|
|"But, I know I react to some cats and not others!?!?!"|
|This variance is actually caused by things OTHER than the breed of cat:|
|The other allergens in the cat's environment are giving you an increased total irritation. A cat who romps outside in the ragweed, explores a dusty attic, uses a litterbox in a damp moldy basement, or lives with a chain-smoker or perfume overuser is more apt to offend sensitive individuals.|
|A correlating fact is that the number of cats abandoned at the city pound for allergies skyrockets during hay fever season. Do cats have more dander then? No, but allergic folks are less tolerant of cat dander when they're overwhelmed by allergens from other sources.|
Finally, we've seen anecdotally in rescue that cats causing a severe allergic reaction will often cause no reaction a week later.
Why is this?
Because we've switched them from supermarket food with TONS of additives to a petstore food of quality ingredients. It seems that some trace amounts of the cat food chemicals remain in the cat's saliva to become airborne with the dander as a greater irritant.
Why hasn't any scientific study been commissioned to study this?
Well, it likely wouldn't be funded by the manufacturers of Meow Mix, DeliCat, or Tender Vittles!
Click here to read more about Feeding Your Cat
If you're not feeding a quality pet food already, then here is another reason:
You BREATHE what your cat EATS!
If you do NOT have a cat at the moment AND think you MIGHT be allergic, PLEASE consult an allergist BEFORE bringing home a kitty. It's NO kindness to put a cat through the stress of adjusting to a new home "as an experiment", NOR sending yourself to the hospital emergency room UNABLE TO BREATHE!
Many of our volunteers manage kitties and allergies both, but you really need professional advice when your allergic reaction can trigger a life-threatening asthma attack. Asthma can often be managed, but you have to project with your doctor how long your drug therapy options will work, in light of a cat's life span of OVER 20 years.
|Restrict your cat(s) to one room, preferably an easy-to-clean area with machine-washable throw rugs, furniture covers, and curtains.|
|Run air cleaners in your bedroom at least, if not every room!|
|If your vacuum doesn't have a Hepa-filter, then do NOT use it unless the allergic person is out of your home for several hours, or it actually makes allergies worse! Get a vacuum with a Hepa-filter as soon as possible, or a central vac with a cannister outside your living areas, like in the garage.|
|Wipe the cats down daily with Allerpet-C or PETAL CLEANSE (better!), and bathe them weekly with plain water or a cat-safe shampoo. Petal Cleanse|
|Bathing cats (window-screen method) is explained well in the book: Good Owners, Great Cats by Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson. If you're not up for this, then bring them to a cat-FRIENDLY groomer or your vet for weekly baths.|
|The person with allergies must be disciplined about NOT touching their face when petting the cat, and washing their hands diligently after touching the felines. For very bad allergy periods, separate clothes should be worn AND left in the cat room for spending time with them.|
|Remove all allergy-retaining products from your home, as other irritants can exacerbate any reaction to your cat:|
|Minimize or eliminate upholstered furniture, wall-to-wall carpets, drapes or fabric blinds which cannot be machine-washed.|
|Put allergy-proof covers on your mattress, box spring, and pillows (sold in specialty shops). Wash bed linens weekly in a allergen-free detergent.|
|Put washable throws (or throw rugs) over any upholstery or carpets you can't eliminate, wash the throws weekly, and vacuum the carpet, upholstery, blinds with an allergy (HEPA-filter) vacuum.|
|Wipe down hard surfaces with a damp mop to "vacuum" the walls, furniture, and appliances.|
|What are you feeding the cats? Are you allergic to the ingredients? You breathe trace amounts of what your cat eats! Transition your cats GRADUALLY onto a better quality food containing fewer allergens: Click here to read more about Feeding Your Cat|
|http://allergies.about.com/cs/cats/ - All About Allergies / Cats|
|http://www.animaltrustees.org/allergies.htm - Animal Trustees / Allergies to Cats|
|http://www.allergybuyersclub.com/solution-cat.html - Cat Allergy Product Solution Chart (compares mostly vaccuums, some of which are pretty expensive! But maybe you could rent a steam cleaner, instead of buying one, to give your home a thorough cleaning)|
|http://www.allergies-and-asthma.com/html/inhalants.php3 - Asthma & Airbourne Allergies|
|http://www.pets-in-the-news.com/html/search2.php3/entryID=22 - A recent study on fur color affecting the cat saliva's allergen levels|
|http://www.cat-world.com/Hypoallergenic.htm - Cat World.com discusses the hit/miss aspect of cat allergies|
|http://www.cityallergy.com/Allergens.htm - City Allergy.com (scroll down to cats)|
|http://www.solacefarm.com/dallasnews.htm - this article probably has the most useful info, quoting the labs and Cornell|
|"Results indicated that cat allergen exposure was 3.7 times higher during vacuuming than before the room was vacuumed. Vacuum model and design (upright or cylinder) had no effect on exposure."|
|From the ASPCA on asthma prevention: "In fact, recent studies show that children living with a dog or cat at home get less asthma--with two pets offering more protection than one. This research supports the current theory among allergists that exposing a child to dust, pet dander and other allergens at a young age will help him or her build up immunities to them. (In Sweden, for example, a whopping 80 percent of children who are allergic to felines never had a cat!) If you or your child is allergic to your animal companion, however, Platts-Mills recommends that you get rid of your carpeting, cover mattresses and cushions with zippered, plastic casings, and use a HEPA air filter to remove airborne animal dander."|
|* Ask your veterinarian about a spray for kitty's coat that will minimize dander.|
|* Replace curtains and drapes with solid blinds, carpeting and rugs with hardwood floors or tile.|
|* Minimize overstuffed furniture in your home.|
|* Vacuum regularly with a vacuum cleaner equipped with a Hepa filter.|
|* Invest in an air purification appliance. Compare the Honeywell and Alpine Air systems.|
|* Wipe down walls and flat surfaces regularly.|
|* Keep your bedroom off-limits to the feline brigade.|
|* Ask your allergist about making a serum from a sample of your cat's hair for desensitizing you.|
|* Bathe the cat weekly - with just plain water. A study at the University of Virginia's Asthma and Allergic Diseases Center found that plain water removes 79% of allergens, compared to 44% removed by soap and water. Be sure to use a shampoo marked safe for kitten and cats - NOT canine NOR human ones!|
|* Homes with central heating and/or air-conditioning can be fitted with an electrostatic filter to replace the throwaway filters. Note that you MUST wash it out once a month to clean the "gunk".|
|* Consider having your air circulation ducts professionally cleaned to get out old dirt, pollen, pet hair and dander.|
|* Install HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters in as many rooms as possible, starting with the bedroom.|
|* The exhaust from a standard vacuum cleaner will stir up the allergens to the point that it may worsen the problem, rather than help it. Consider vacuuming while the allergic person is away for a few hours ... with the windows open and a fan to blow out the dander- laden air.|
|* Consider using a damp mop to "vacuum" the walls, furniture, and appliances.|
|* Cut back on fabrics. The cat allergens stick to porous surfaces. Synthetic fabrics attract more dander than natural fabrics.|
|* Treat the carpet and upholstery with an anti-allergenic dust spray to neutralize the cat dander. A 3% solution of tannic acid has been found to neutralize 93% of cat allergens.|
|* Wash walls, ceilings, floors, moldings, light fixtures, shelves, door tops, and window tops frequently.|
|* Remove carpets, drapes, and overstuffed furniture from the bedroom. A study by the University of Virginia found that carpets accumulate allergens at 100 times the rate of bare floors.|
|* Remove other allergens at the same time ... molds, pollen, etc.|
|* Air out the house as often as feasible. Opening windows will allow fresh air to flush out the airborne dander. Be sure to check the pollen count so you don't just exchange cat sneezing for cedar fever.|
|* Locate litter trays far away from sources of air supply to the rest of the home.|
|* Reduce indoor humidity to less than 50%. Beware that outdoor humidity can trigger asthma attacks or worsen them, and limit time outdoors, especially on ozone-alert days!|