Contrary to popular belief, it's not cat fur that people are allergic to, but rather a protein contained in the dander on the fur. When cats lick themselves, they leave behind deposits of saliva that dry and flake off as dander. Dander is incredibly light and becomes airborne with shed fur. However, it also comes off on your hands, and any surface your cat rubs against. It's easy to see why pet dander can become so pervasive in the environment and why removing cat dander is so important for allergy sufferers.
Tips for Removing Cat Dander
There are many ways of removing cat dander from your environment and protecting yourself from an allergic reaction. Choose as many methods as are practical for your circumstances.
Grooming Your Pet
Perhaps you're one of the brave souls who attempt to live with your allergies rather than give up your cat. If so, there are a few things you can do grooming-wise to cut down on the dander and lighten the workload for your allergy medication.
- Bathe your cat once a week. You don't have to handle the task yourself. You can always hire a groomer, but make sure she understands that it's essential to wash your cat's face and ears thoroughly along with the rest of his body.
- Use hypo-allergenic pet wipes in between baths. These wipes help remove the allergen contained in dander.
- Use a vacuum hose on your cat's fur. Some cats like this, some cats don't. If yours does, you can remove a lot of loose fur and dander before it makes its way into the atmosphere.
Tips for Cleaning Your House
If you currently live with a cat but suffer from allergies, you'll want to take special care to remove the dander from your furniture, the carpet, and walls. Obviously, the more you clean, the more you reduce allergens in your home.
- Wash your walls and ceiling with hot soapy water.
- Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter and vacuum everything. This is especially important in crevices where dander becomes trapped such as around baseboards, windowsills, draperies and even lamp shades. Don't forget to vacuum your cat's bedding and play area.
- Operate an air cleaner with a HEPA filter in your bedroom and main living areas.
- Steam clean carpets and upholstery periodically.
- Use an anti-mite product such as X-Mite to remove mites and dander from upholstery and carpets.
- Use anti-mite covers on your bed.
- Change/clean your furnace filters every three months.
- Add a layer of cheese cloth over the furnace vent in your bedroom to provide additional filtering of dander from your furnace. Launder the cloth at least once a month, depending on the severity of your allergy.
- Choose a dust-free cat litter over clay litter.
- Wear gloves and a facial mask when cleaning the litter box, and handle the task outside whenever possible.
Sometimes, simply cleaning your house thoroughly is not going to do the trick. This is especially true for non-cat owners who end up living in a home that was previously owned by cat-owners. If your find that even with your best attention, your allergies are still acting up, you may need to take more drastic measures.
- Repaint the interior of your house every few years.
- Replace or completely remove carpeting whenever practical.
- Consider replacing any fabric furniture with furniture in leather or vinyl. Fabric tends to trap dander, and vinyl and leather are easier to clean.
- Have your furnace and duct work professionally cleaned twice a year.
Be Diligent to Control Allergies
Cleaning pet dander is an endless battle that is never truly won. To help minimize allergic reactions, remember to take your allergy medication and keep a few areas in your house, such as your bedroom, as a cat-free zone. Keeping up with your cleaning routine, and the cat's grooming routine is generally effective to keep dander at bay.