The start of spring is upon us and with spring comes allergies and for those with cat allergies this can be a tough time of the year.
According to the Australian Institute of Health & Wellness 4.6 million people in Australia suffer with Allergic Rhinitis or Hay Fever. That's a lot of people & a lot of antihistamines.
These people suffer with allergies to pollen, dust, animal dander & mold spores. Pollen may be a seasonal affliction but cat allergies last all year long.
If you have an allergy to cats these are some of the symptoms you might experience:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Facial pain (from nasal congestion)
- Coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing
- Watery, red or itchy eyes
- Skin rash or hives
My mummy K suffers with Allergic Rhinitis. It was obvious early on that she was going to have a problem with me when she came out in hives on her first date with mummy S!
This is a story by my Mummy K from an allergy sufferers point of view:
When I first met Ziggy, I was not used to having a cat in my life and I suffered terrible allergic reactions in her presence! I would come out in hives, constantly sneeze and suffer insanely itchy eyes, from which frequent rubbing would turn angry and red. I'd also experience a blocked nose, sneezing fits and breathing became very difficult. I found it very hard to sleep, with these breathing issues! These symptoms were exacerbated by the fact that I suffer with asthma. I also developed recurrent bouts of sinusitis which meant I was very unwell a lot of the time.
It was a very miserable time for me! On the one hand, I wanted to befriend Ziggy, as I knew how much her Mummy S adored her. On the other, I felt constantly unwell, living in allergy hell and I knew that it couldn't continue!
I now manage my symptoms by taking daily antihistamines and a nasal spray along with a preventative inhaler. We also manage this with a clean house and I limit my contact with Ziggy and when I do touch her I wash my hands directly after.
I think after years of living with Ziggy I have developed a bit of a tolerance to her and my allergies are no longer as bad but I still take the preventative medication.
Now myself and Ziggy are the very best of friends and I'm not worried at all about her permanency in my life!
As was described in Mummy K’s story these symptoms can cause a sufferer to be miserable. The symptoms can be treated with medications and/or vaccinations so please book an appointment with your doctor to find out what the best treatments are for you.
It is very rare for a person to have an allergy to just one thing so it is important to get tested to find out the exact cause of your symptoms.
Cat allergies are also a major reason for cats being returned to rescue shelters every day. So it’s a pretty miserable situation for all the kitty cats out there too.
There are ways that cats and cat allergy sufferers can co-exist. It does take commitment and effort but the end results are definitely worth it. Giving a loving home to a deserving kitty cat and the bond/friendship you gain in return is one to be cherished forever.
So...What actually causes cat allergies?
Cat hair itself is not the cause of allergies. It is actually a protein that is found in the sebaceous glands of cats. The protein attaches itself to dried skin, called dander, that flakes off and floats through the air when cats wash themselves. These proteins are also found in cats saliva and urine.
Essentially the protein, which is called Fel d 1 binds to a bacterial molecule called LPS in humans, which is known to cause acute immune responses.
Research is still ongoing to find a drug that can prevent an allergic reaction occurring in the first place.
Until such time that a cure for cat allergies can be found there are some proactive steps that can be taken to keep allergies at bay.
Here are some tips on how to cope with allergies if you are living with a cat.
1. Avoid hugging or kissing your cat
Avoiding close contact with your furry friend is the best way to avoid your allergic responses. Although this may be hard to do, you must think of your health. Keep hand sanitiser close by if you are not able to get to a sink but ensure that you wash your hands with soap and water regularly when you can.
2. Restrict cat to certain rooms especially the bedroom
Keeping your bedroom cat and therefore, cat hair and cat allergen free is the most important and probably easy things to do. You sleep for 8 hours a night and you need to be able to breathe freely. This is easily achieved by just making sure you close your bedroom door. If there are any other rooms you wish to keep allergy free just close the door.
3. HEPA Filters
A vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter is a fantastic investment for an allergy sufferer as it will trap a lot more dust and dirt particles than a regular vacuum cleaner. You can also get air purifiers with HEPA filters that work in the same way.
4.Regular cleaning & washing
Regular cleaning and vacuuming will help to keep allergens at bay. Regular washing of sheets and blankets that kitty might come in to contact with. Use a lint roller or a lint brush or similar to remove cat hair from chairs etc before sitting down.
5. Consider getting floorboards or tiles instead of carpet
This is a drastic measure if you currently have wall to wall carpets. If you intend on living your life with a kitty cat perhaps it could be something you think about when you next redecorate. Cat hair and dander is much easier to remove from hard floors than carpet. If this is not an option consider getting your carpets deep cleaned once a month.
6. Wash your cats bedding regularly
Ensure that your kitty cats bedding is washed regularly. This is important for the health of your kitty cat and the allergy sufferer in your home. If you are worried about the cat hair in your washing machine you can wash your kitty’s blankets inside an old pillow case or something similar. Always wash your kitty’s blankets separate to your own washing.
7. Visit your doctor
Your doctor can perform a skin prick test to determine what you are actually allergic to. If you have an allergy to cats you may also have an allergy to dust and grass. If this is the case, you will need to take preventative measures against all three.
Your doctor can also check to make sure that you are not also suffering with asthma. According to the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology & Allergy 80% of people with asthma also test positive to allergy tests.
If you have both it is very important to have a treatment plan in place to effectively manage your symptoms.
8. Avoid grooming tasks
Ensure that the non allergy sufferer in household is responsible for brushing your cat (outdoors if possible) and all the other things that means you have to get up close and personal like brushing their teeth, clipping their claws etc. That same person will also need to take care of the litter box to avoid allergens present in kitty cat urine.
This is the best bit for any allergy sufferer! Get someone else to do the dirty work! That is how it works in our household anyway. Mummy K is the one that gives me the yummy ham or turkey treats and Mummy S is the one that brushes my hair & my teeth, she puts the flea treatment on me and cuts my nails. She is the one that cleans out my litter tray! I am lucky to have such wonderful mummies!
The Ziggy Belle Deshedding Brush
A great investment for any kitty cat household would be our new Ziggy Belle Deshedding brush. This brush is fantastic at removing loose hair from the top coat and any fur from the undercoat that needs to come out.
As we are coming in to warmer weather, kitty cats all over Australia will be shedding their winter coats. The hair comes out naturally when kitty grooms themselves. If there is too much hair though it ends up in your house or even worse could come out in the form of hair balls! Both being a major problem for people with cat allergies.
Regular grooming with the Ziggy Belle Deshedding Brush will decrease the amount of shedding significantly. This means that you can dispose of the hair during a grooming session rather than that hair ending up all over your house.
If you take the advice given in the above list the amount of allergens in your home can be greatly reduced. This means that everyone in the household can live a happy and healthy life!
Signing off for now
Ziggy Belle. 🐾
Information cited from these websites: