New Cat Owner? 5 Tips for Dealing with Cat Allergy Symptoms
Suffering from cat allergy symptoms doesn’t negate the love and affection of having a feline friend in your house. Perhaps you’re a cat lover with allergies who is wondering how you can adopt a new pet and remain comfortable. Or maybe you’re an existing cat parent who has started to develop allergy symptoms, or someone with existing allergies has moved in with you and your cat.
Whatever the reason, it is possible to live with cat allergy symptoms and still enjoy the benefits of cat parenthood. Cats are wonderful companions in a variety of ways, and those with allergies don’t have to forgo that fun and rewarding companionship. If you’re suffering from the common cat allergy symptoms outlined here, then try our tips to remain comfortable while keeping the family whole and happy.
Am I Allergic? Cat Allergy Symptoms
Many people might not even realize they are allergic to cats until they find themselves living with one. Here are some cat allergy symptoms that could indicate you have this condition:
- Head cold symptoms
- Skin reactions
- Breathing and respiratory symptoms
- Severe cat allergy symptoms
- Cumulative effects of cat allergies
Cat Allergies Can Cause Symptoms of a Head Cold
Some of the most common cat allergy symptoms are similar to that of a simple head cold. While these aren’t severe symptoms, they are certainly uncomfortable. A person who is allergic to cats might experience consistent and repetitive sneezing, congestion or a runny nose, and pressure headaches from sinus congestion. Other cold-like symptoms might include itchiness or irritation in the eyes, throat, nose, or mouth.
Your Skin Might React If You Have a Cat Allergy
Skin reactions are another common cat allergy symptom. This might be accompanied by other symptoms or a stand-alone allergic reaction. It can vary from minor to severe.
A person allergic to cats might break out in hives when exposed to the animal or spending time in an area where the animal has been. Other rashes might also appear, or they might just experience dry and itchy skin.
Your Breathing Might Be Impacted by a Cat Allergy
More serious cat allergies can cause respiratory problems for people. Minor respiratory symptoms can include a cough; a whistling, wheezing sound when breathing; tightness in the chest; or difficulty breathing. Obviously, when a cat allergy has graduated to this level (or perhaps this is the primary cat allergy symptom one experiences), it’s more dangerous than a simple skin rash or sneezing.
Extreme Cat Allergies Can Be Dangerous
Cat allergies are usually manageable but can sometimes be very severe and even lethal. Swelling and inflammation can cause the throat to close and restrict breathing. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can cause shock and sometimes death. Such a situation is often preventable because of the growing, worsening nature of allergic symptoms: a person will rarely go straight into anaphylaxis when exposed to a cat (though it’s not impossible).
To keep everyone safe, individuals should know and understand their allergic risk for cats before moving into a home or adopting a new pet.
All Cat Allergy Symptoms Can Create Cumulative Effects
Regardless of how severe or mild your cat allergy symptoms are, they can create a cumulative effect that can be detrimental to one’s wellness. It’s not sustainable to live in discomfort, even if that’s just a slight stuffy nose. Cold symptoms, congestion, headaches, breathing issues, and skin problems can cause loss of sleep and lethargy. When suffered for long periods of time, this kind of discomfort can impact a person’s health very negatively. That’s why it’s important to manage your cat allergy symptoms so everyone in the household remains happy and healthy.
5 Tips for Managing Cat Allergy Symptoms
Managing pet dander allergies is possible if your symptoms are not too severe. Here are some tips for living with a cat if you have allergies:
- Stick to one cat rather than several
- Get your cat spayed or neutered
- Uphold a consistent grooming schedule
- Consider a hypoallergenic pet if you have the option
- Immunotherapy and medication may help
Keep the Cat Crowd Small
If you experience cat allergy symptoms, you should try to limit yourself to a single feline friend. Having more cats in the household increases the concentration of allergens and, as a result, your symptoms will be more severe. Plus, it is much easier to restrict a single cat to one area of the house and maintain a consistent grooming schedule. Cats are often content to live in a single-pet household and enjoy all of your attention, anyway.
Fixing Your Cat Can Reduce Allergen Production
One somewhat surprising way to control your cat’s allergen production is to get them spayed or neutered. Fixing your pet is recommended anyway for a number of reasons (not least of which is that it helps to control the population of unwanted or unhoused animals), and an added bonus is that it can reduce your pet’s allergen production – and thus your allergic reactions. You also might consider a female cat over a male one, as they tend to shed substantially less than male cats do.
Maintain a Solid Grooming Schedule with Your Cat
Your cat will self-groom, but you also need to support their hygiene efforts with regular brushing and even consistent bathing. This will reduce dander and shedding, thus limiting your exposure to their allergens. Always use a pet-specific shampoo for your cat and try to brush your cat in a low-traffic area or on a hard surface like tile or wood where it is easy to clean up the excess fur.
Hypoallergenic Cats Can Be Better for Allergy Sufferers
If you have the option, consider getting a hypoallergenic cat rather than one that sheds more dander. You can find out detailed information online about each breed of cat’s likelihood to trigger your allergies. While hypoallergenic cats are not entirely allergen-free, they do tend to be more comfortable for allergy sufferers to live with. Hairless breeds often shed much less dander in part because they have no fur to carry their dander. But there are also hypoallergenic cats with fur that can be more comfortable and manageable companions for people with cat allergy symptoms.
Try Immunotherapy or Medication as a Last Resort
If you’ve tried everything and your cat allergy symptoms are still severe, you might consider medications (both over-the-counter and prescription meds can support allergy sufferers) or even immunotherapy. In immunotherapy, you are exposed to the allergens through shots a few times a month. This treatment is unreliable: it works very well for some folks and not at all for others, and it’s often very expensive as well.
Managing Cat Allergies Is Possible and Important
Don’t let someone in your household suffer from cat allergies, even if they are minor. By using our tips, you can ensure that even someone with an allergy is comfortable in a cat-loving household.
With proper preparation, all people – even those who suffer from cat allergy symptoms – can enjoy cat companionship. It might take a little more effort and conscious living, but it will all be worth it when you hear your furry friend purring or watch them chase after the laser.