You’d like to have a cat or you wouldn’t be reading this. But something’s holding you back from making the commitment. Maybe you’re afraid that cat allergies will have you wheezing and sneezing. Maybe you’re worried that cat scratching will ruin your furniture. Maybe your spouse or roommate refuses to let a feline join your happy home.
Whatever the reason, there are solutions. We’ve gathered some of the most common obstacles to cat ownership, along with suggestions on how to tackle each.
Cats like to scratch. They scratch during play. They scratch while stretching. They scratch to mark territory or as a threatening signal other cats. And because cats’ claws need regular sharpening, cats scratch on things to remove frayed, worn outer claws and expose new, sharper claws. Unfortunately, all this scratching can cause a lot of damage to furniture, drapes and carpeting!
While the ideal solution for allergies is to avoid what you’re allergic to, you can minimize symptoms with a little work. But the first step is to visit an allergist to make sure you really do have cat allergies. Once you’re certain that cats trigger your symptoms, get the facts.
For example, it helps to know that people with cat allergies aren’t actually allergic to hair, but to proteins found in cat saliva, urine and dander. Stepping up kitty baths is not necessarily the solution, however. While bathing a cat can reduce your exposure to this protein, the effect is short lived, and bathing kitties too often can irritate their sensitive skin.
It will be easier on both of you if you make these adaptations:
Make your bedroom a cat-free zone. It’s the place where you spend the most time, so keep this spot a cat-free sanctuary to help reduce allergy symptoms. If you also switch to special bedding designed to be less permeable to allergens, you may start the day significantly less wheezy.
Demolish dander. Vacuuming, dusting, and sweeping more often can reduce the buildup of pet dander (where much of that allergy-inducing protein attaches). And make the job easier on yourself by minimizing carpets, heavy drapes, and upholstery in your house.
Wash up. Washing your hands and face frequently can help significantly reduce your exposure to dander.
Filter the air. Change house air filters regularly and look into installing an air purifier with a HEPA filter.
Try medication. Both over-the-counter allergy medications and allergy shots can help relieve allergy symptoms. Over time, allergy shots can also help reduce cat allergy symptoms.