How To Have A Cat If You’re Allergic To Them Because Yes, It’s Possible
As a person with three cats, I can confidently say that they are the best pets ever and my life would not be nearly as joyful without them. As a person who is allergic to cats, though, I can attest to the fact that it can be a challenge to live with them. Having any kind of allergy can be frustrating — being allergic to something living in your home can be even worse. But just because you're allergic to cats doesn't always mean you can never own one. If you have your heart set on having one as a pet, there ARE ways to do it.
I'm allergic to both cats and dogs, yet I've owned both over the course of my life. I've learned how to adjust certain aspects of the pet-having experience so that I can happily live with my cats without sneezing, sniffling, or rubbing my eyes all the time. Allergies shouldn't always have to hold us back from living with these adorable, cuddly creatures, and as far as allergies go, pet allergies are fairly easy to manage. And since they vary from person to person, you might find that yours really aren't all that difficult to deal with, and that you have to do minimal things to make things work in your favor.
If you're allergic to cats, know that you still have options — just be sure to read through these tips before you go out and get one for yourself.
1. You Need To Talk To A Doctor
First things first: speak with a doctor before you get a cat if you know (or suspect) you're allergic to them. As great as cats are, you don't want to own one if it's going to seriously affect your health. Most pet allergies are pretty manageable, but some can be more serious than others. See a professional to discuss your options before making a commitment to a new fur baby.
2. There's Medication That Can Help
There are tons of medication options out there for allergies, from prescription drugs to over-the-counter options. Your doctor might suggest taking something every single day to help. If you don't want to do that, you can get pills, like Claritin, to at least have in your house in case things get bad and you really need one. Just remember, you should always speak to a doctor before taking any new medication, even something over-the-counter.
3. Hypoallergenic Breeds Can Really Help
Some cats are worse for allergies than others. If you're getting a new cat, look for a breed that is hypoallergenic. Cat allergies are caused by a reaction to a protein found on a cat's skin, fur, or saliva, so you'll want to find a cat that doesn't shed as much or that doesn't have any hair (like hairless cats!). While there are no cat breeds that are 100 percent hypoallergenic, according to Healthy Pets, there are certain breeds that will be better for you. This includes Balinese, Bengals, and Russian Blue cats. Also, be sure to get your cat neutered, as non-neutered cats can shed more of the allergenic protein, especially non-neutered male cats.
4. You'll Have To Clean — A Lot
If you're allergic to cats, then chances are good that that isn't your only allergy. To eliminate other allergic reactions, you'll want to try to keep your home allergen-free. You can never totally do this, of course, but you can try! Some tips include getting rid of blinds (they collect more dust and hair), owning leather furniture (though, be aware that your cat will probably scratch it up), and switching to wood or file floors instead of carpeting. Wash your bedding and other linens (especially ones your cat comes in contact with) at least once a week. Keep your home clean quite often by dusting and vacuuming away the allergens.
5. Air Purifiers Can Also Help
Another great way to keep your house less allergen-filled is to get an air purifier. These help eliminate dust and hair and other allergens flying around your home that you aren't able to scrub away. They don't take away the need to clean, but they can help mitigate allergens floating around the air.
6. Your Cat May Need To Keep To Itself
You can allow your cat to roam around your home, but you should also set aside a space just for your cat, as well as a space your cat doesn't go into to. For example: don't allow your cat in your bedroom, and set up all of their things in a separate room. I have my three cats sleep in my basement, and I leave all of their things down there—- litter box, toys, beds, etc., and I have a spare room they aren't allowed in. This is helpful because it gives you a clean space to go into if your allergies are getting particularly bad.
7. And, You May Need To Keep Away From Them
If you're allergic to cats, you can still live with one one — but you probably don't want to spend a ton of time with your face buried in their fur. Try to limit how often you cuddle closely with them, and maybe don't allow them to snuggle in your bed or near your pillow. Be diligent about petting them and washing your hands after, or at least not touching your eyes or nose. You can also keep them clean by brushing them often.
Owning a cat while being allergic to them is definitely not the easiest experience, but it can definitely be done with a little bit of preparation. Talk to your doctor about whether owning a cat makes sense for you, then get to researching the rescues in your neighborhood. Your new furbaby (or hairless home companion) could be just around the corner.