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Cat Allergies

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Reducing Exposure to Cats continued...

But what if you already own a cat? Here's the most sensible advice: if you or a family member has cat allergies, you shouldn't have a cat in the home.

Of course, such harsh advice may not be easy to follow. What if your kids have already fallen in love with a kitten? What if your intended will never, ever part with her cat? If the cat has to stay, there are other things you can try.

  • Keep your distance. Limit exposure to the cat. Certainly, another family member should take responsibility for the cat's care and do things like cleaning the litter box.
  • Restrict the cat to certain sections of the house. Don't allow your cat to roam free. Keep the cat out of your bedroom at all times.
  • Keep the cat outdoors as much as possible. That's how some people get around their cat allergies. However, make sure your cat is safe outside.
  • Clean rigorously and often. Cat dander gets everywhere. So you need to sweep and mop the floors, vacuum the rugs, and clean furniture regularly. Make sure to get a vacuum with a HEPA filter, because regular filters may not be fine enough to catch allergens. Get rid of carpets and drapes that can trap dander.
  • Clear the air. A central air cleaner -- as well as filters on the vents themselves -- can help prevent cat dander from circulating through the house.
  • Consider bathing your cat on a regular basis. Experts aren't certain if bathing really helps reduce the amount of allergen. But if it doesn't traumatize the cat too badly, you could try it and see if it reduces symptoms.

While these techniques might help, they may not be enough. As hard as it might be, if keeping your cat is putting your health -- or a family member's health -- at risk, you have to consider giving it up.

Whatever you do, don't assume that you can just wait it out, that cat allergies will naturally get better over time. They might very well get worse. Out-of-control allergies can do more than make life miserable -- they can increase the risk of asthma, which is a serious disease.

So don't ignore the signs of cat allergies. Instead, see a doctor. Together, you can figure out the best way to tackle the problem.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on May 12, 2014
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