HOW TO TREAT CAT ALLERGIES
Avoiding the allergen is best, but when that’s not possible, the following treatments may help to treat cat allergies:
- antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), loratadine (Claritin), or cetirizine (Zyrtec)
- corticosteroid nasal sprays such as fluticasone (Flonase) or mometasone (Nasonex)
- over-the-counter decongestant sprays
- cromolyn sodium, which prevents the release of immune system chemicals and may reduce symptoms
- allergy shots known as immunotherapy (a series of shots that desensitize you to an allergen)
- leukotriene inhibitors, such as montelukast (Singulair)
Due to the risk of severe mental health side effects Trusted Source, montelukast should only be used when other allergy treatments aren’t available.
Nasal lavage is a home remedy for symptoms of cat allergies. Saltwater (saline) is used to rinse your nasal passages, reducing congestion, postnasal drip, and sneezing. Several over-the-counter brands are available. You can make salt water at home by combining 1/8 teaspoon of table salt with 8 ounces of distilled water.
According to the National Institutes of Health Trusted Source, butterbur (an herbal supplement), acupuncture, and probiotics may improve seasonal allergies symptoms. However, research is limited. It’s not clear how effective these products would be specifically for pet allergies. Herbal remedies that show potential benefits share a similar action in the body compared to traditional medications.
Best air purifiers for cat allergies
High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are one of the best defenses against cat allergies. They reduce airborne pet allergens by forcing air through a special filter that traps pet dander, as well as pollen, dust mites, and other allergens. This is the HEPA Air Filter I personally own.
Cat allergies in infants
There is an ongoing debate among scientists whether infants exposed to animals at a very young age are destined to develop allergies or if the opposite is true. Recent studies have come to conflicting conclusions. A 2015 study found that exposing infants to cats and dogs at home is associated with a higher risk of developing allergies during the first four years of the child’s life.
On the other hand, a 2011 study found that babies who live with cats, especially during the first year of life, develop antibodies to the pet and were less likely to acquire an allergy later.
A 2017 study found that cats and dogs may benefit from exposing babies to certain healthy bacteria early in life. The study concluded that babies exposed to a cat or dog in the home during pregnancy might have fewer problems with allergies in the future than babies who weren’t exposed.
Your doctor will be able to answer questions you may have about your baby and your cat. For children who are allergic, removing fabric toys and stuffed animals and replacing them with plastic or washable ones may help relieve symptoms.
Reducing Cat & Dog Allergies
Avoidance is best to prevent allergies in the first place. But if you discover you’re allergic to your cat, there are other options than getting rid of your pet. Consider these strategies for reducing your symptoms.
- Keep the cat out of your bedroom.
- Wash your hands after touching the cat.
- Remove wall-to-wall carpeting and upholstered furniture. Wood or tiled flooring and clean walls help reduce allergens.
- Select throw rugs or furniture covers that can be washed in hot water, and wash them frequently.
- Cover heating and air-conditioning vents with a dense filtering material such as cheesecloth.
- Install an air cleaner.
- Change the filters on air conditioning units and furnaces frequently.
- Keep the humidity level in your home at around 40 percent.
- Vacuum weekly with a HEPA filter vacuum.
- Use a face mask while dusting or cleaning.
- Recruit a nonallergic person to dust the home and clean the litter box regularly.
When to see a doctor
Some signs and symptoms of pet allergy, such as a runny nose or sneezing, are similar to those of the common cold.
Sometimes it’s difficult to know whether you have a cold or an allergy. If symptoms persist for more than two weeks,
you might have an allergy.
If your signs and symptoms are severe — with nasal passages feeling completely blocked and difficulty sleeping or wheezing — call your doctor. Seek emergency care if wheezing or shortness of breath rapidly worsens or if you are short of breath with minimal activity. If you have a severe cat allergy, Talk to Your Doctor!!!!
What If I Want to Keep My Pet?
Removing the pet from home is often the best treatment. However, if you still want to keep your pet, there may be some strategies to reduce exposure.
- Remove your pet from the bedroom. You spend from one-third to one-half of your time there. Keep the bedroom door closed and clean the bedroom aggressively. You might consider using a HEPA air cleaner in your bedroom.
- Animal allergens are sticky. So, you must remove the animal’s favorite furniture, remove wall-to-wall carpet and scrub the walls and woodwork. Keep surfaces throughout the home clean and uncluttered. Bare floors and walls are best.
- If you must have carpet, select one with a low pile and steam clean it frequently. Better yet, use throw rugs and wash them in hot water.
Use Dust Masks when Cleaning the House
- Wear a dust mask to vacuum. Vacuum cleaners stir up allergens that have settled on the carpet and make allergies worse. Use a vacuum with CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® filter if possible.
- Change your clothes after prolonged exposure to an animal.
- Forced-air heating and air-conditioning can spread allergens through the house—cover bedroom vents with dense filtering material like cheesecloth.
- Adding an air cleaner combined with CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® filter to central heating and air conditioning can help remove pet allergens from the air. Use an air cleaner at least four hours per day. Another type of air cleaner with an electrostatic filter will remove particles the size of animal allergens from the air. No air cleaner or filter will remove allergens stuck to surfaces, though.
- Washing the pet every week may reduce airborne allergens but is of questionable value in reducing a person’s symptoms.
- Have someone without a pet allergy brush the pet outside to remove dander and clean the litter box or cage.
Medically reviewed by Judith Marcin, MD on August 21, 2017 —
Written by Michael Kerr and Rena Goldman & AAFA (Asthma And Allergy Foundation of America