There are five common allergens for people, and cats can produce at least one of these which is an allergen to the protein in cats saliva. The most common of these are the glycoprotein Fel d 1, secreted by the cat’s sebaceous glands and Fel d 4, which is expressed in their saliva.
A typical reaction can be characterized by coughing, wheezing, chest tightening, itching, nasal congestion, rash, watering eyes, sneezing, and similar symptoms. Some people are more sensitive than others.
You will need to determine the degree of your sensitivity. Some people are highly sensitive and can tell if a cat has been in a room just when they walk through the door—others just can’t have the cat up in their face or sleeping on their bedding. Those with mild allergies will usually build up a tolerance over the first couple of months.
Some strategies to minimize allergies include:
- Brushing your cat regularly will reduce the amount of loose fur (and its attached saliva).
- Regularly bathing the cat will reduce allergens by 60-80%. Mini-bathes with cat wipes purchased from a pet store (always alcohol and fragrance-free) are also very useful in minimizing dander or wiping the cat down with a towel that has been dampened with distilled water (Remember, do not use baby-wipes or anything with alcohol or fragrance, as these are toxic to your cat).
- Personal Hygiene: Wash your hands after handling your cat to avoid spreading the dander.
- Keep your cat out of your bedroom or off the furniture.
- Regular House Cleaning:
- Minimize fabrics, upholstery, or rugs that can trap the allergens.
- Hard-floors are best since they can be thoroughly cleaned.
- Regularly clean or replace the filter in your central air system.
- Use HEPA air cleaners:
- Install a HEPA filter on your central air unit.
- Use a HEPA vacuum cleaner for rugs, upholstery, curtains, etc.
- Use an Air Purifier System.
- Use a HEPA portable air cleaner in a room
- Have someone else clean the litter box.
- Store the litter box away from forced air heating and/or central air conditioning vents.
- Studies have shown that females shed substantially lower amounts of allergen than males. Also, neutered males shed less than an un-fixed male.