How To Help People With Cat Allergies Feel Comfortable Around Your Furry Friend
Allergies are no joke, and as someone allergic to cats who also owns four cats, I can tell you pet allergies can seem especially insidious. Thankfully, my allergies are not so severe that a good dose of daily medication can't keep them at bay, but if you too are a a cat owner, chances are you're going to run into people with more worrisome allergies. And that means you're going to have to know how to keep people with cat allergies comfortable around you, your home, and your best friend(s).
Of course, the first thing you should do is ask folks who plan to come to your house if they're allergic, and how bad their allergies are. For people with only mild allergies, you can follow the advice below to help make your home as comfy as possible for them. But with potential visitors who have severe allergies, you may unfortunately have to consider not having them over to your home at all. Be honest with them about the fact that you think your home may be compromising for their health, and find workarounds together.
For folks whose allergies aren't quite that severe but who do need to minimize contact, there are steps you can to prep for their arrival. Home website The Spruce offers a great roundup of tips, beginning with a suggestion to clear your cats out of the way before your visitor comes over. I know, I know — it won't be easy to lock your furry BFF away, especially if they're a people cat, but as Franny Syufy writing for The Spruce points out, "It would be impractical to try to get rid of cat allergens while a group of cats follows you around, freely dispersing more allergens."
If your visitor shouldn't have (or doesn't want!) any direct contact with your cat, sequester them in a room of their own with their comfort items — their litter box, food and water bowls, toys, bed, and so on — and leave them, Syufy says. But even if your visitor is willing to have your cats around while they're there, you should keep your cats away while you clean.
And it's going to take a bit of cleaning to make sure an allergic guest is as comfortable as possible. First, vacuum thoroughly, Syufy advises. "The majority of cat allergies are caused by a small stable glycoprotein called [fel d 1] contained in cat saliva," they explain. "The allergen transforms into miscroscopic flakes in their fur when they groom." Which means you're going to want to get as much fur and dander out of your house as possible. Luckily, a regular old household vacuum will do the job, Syufy says.
Syufy also says you should make sure to dust your wooden furniture, clean hardwood or linoleum floors with a damp mop, and wipe down solid surfaces like kitchen counters and tables, especially if you're going to be serving food to your guest or plan to work together at a coffee or kitchen table.
You can also scrub the air to help promote your visitor's comfort, Syufy points out, by using Hepa air filters to clear out dander hanging around in the air. "Portable air filters can be strategically placed where your allergic visitors sit," Syufy says.
If you know your guest is going to be OK with having your kitty around while they're visiting, you can also allergy-proof your pet as much as possible, according to pet care website Vetstreet. Denise Maher writing for Vetstreet advises washing pets with "a mild, pet-safe shampoo recommended by your veterinarian" to help keep allergens down. Maher adds that you should make extra sure to wash places where your pets concentrate their grooming efforts.
Maher also says that if you're planning to have visitors staying for more than a few hours, especially overnight, you should plan for the worst just in case, because overnight guests "will likely experience an allergic reaction" no matter how thorough your house-cleaning efforts. Have over-the-counter allergy medicine available, and if you or your visitor have EpiPens, make sure you know where they are and how to use them.
Above all, remember that communication is key. Make sure you're listening to your visitor and respecting their boundaries, because they know their allergies and allergy triggers best. If you're worried about being able to clean your house well enough, there's no shame in that — just suggest meeting somewhere else. In the end, it's better for everyone involved to be safe rather than sorry.