Fend Off Fur
Though cat hair may tickle your nose, it's not the reason you're sneezing. You may have symptoms even around hairless cats.
One trigger of your allergies is a protein found in your cat’s saliva. When your cat grooms herself, she spreads the protein all over her body. When the saliva dries, it gets in the air -- so you inhale it as well as getting it on your skin when you pick up cat hair.
Another trigger is a protein found in your cat’s dander, which are flakes of skin. To decrease the amount of saliva-covered fur and dander you contact:
- Brush your cat once or twice a week -- outside is best.
- If kitty sheds more than usual, visit the vet to see if she has dermatitis.
- Ask your vet about washing your cat regularly. Keeping your cat clean helps control the spread of her dander. Some vets may advise against this short-term solution that's also hard to do.
Make Your House a Haven
Brushing and washing kitty can only go so far. You can reduce your exposure to triggers even more.
- Make a room or two in your house cat-free. Think bedroom, home-office, or family room -- wherever you spend a lot of time.
- Be a minimalist. Heavy drapes, throw rugs, a pile of pillows -- they're all great spots for cat dander and hair to collect, so limit them when you can.
- Breathe easier. Vacuum, change bedding, and clean the litter box regularly to clear the air of allergens.
Kitty's groomed, your house is tidy, so now it's your turn. Make efforts to reduce your symptoms.
- Confirm your allergy with your doctor. What seems like cat allergy symptoms may be a response to environmental triggers like pollen or smoke or even a lingering cold.
- Wear a 'pet outfit.' When playing with or grooming kitty, wear a different set of clothes to keep the rest of your wardrobe dander-free.
- Treat allergy symptoms. You can treat mild symptoms, like nasal congestion, with over-the-counter medicines. If your symptoms are severe, talk to your doctor about prescription-strength medicines.
- Consider allergy shots. You may need to commit to weekly injections for 6 months, and get boosters for about 3 years.