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.
Although the name suggests otherwise, ringworm isn’t caused by a worm at all-but a fungus that can infect the skin, hair and nails. Not uncommon in cats, this highly contagious disease can lead to patchy, circular areas of hair loss with central red rings. Also known as dermatophytosis, ringworm often spreads to other pets in the household-and to humans, too.
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.
Just as shedding hair is normal for people, so is it for cats. Felines usually lose more hair in spring, as the weather warms. But cats also shed because of medical issues such as stress, poor diet, allergies, medication, infection, and sunburn. To help minimize normal kitty hair loss, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) suggests:
Feed your cat a healthy, balanced diet.
Brush and groom your cat regularly.
While grooming your cat, check for suspicious hair loss, redness, bumps, cuts, fleas, ticks, or other parasites. If you see signs of any of these problems or just aren’t sure why kitty is shedding so much, visit a veterinarian.