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BEACON Senior News

Are you allergic to your cat? 7 ways to lose the allergies and keep the cat

Apr 27, 2024 09:58AM ● By Ask Ms. Kitty

Dear Ms. Kitty: My mother must move in with us for health reasons. She’d like to bring her two beloved cats, Waylon and Willie, but my son is extremely allergic to them. She is heartsick at the thought of having to give up her friends who have given her so much emotional support. What can we do so she doesn’t have to rehome them? Signed, Heartsick in Hugo

Dear Heartsick: It’s that time of the year when allergies can strike any of us, even those who desperately want a feline friend. Fortunately, there are many options for treating cat allergies that may allow you all to thrive with Waylon and Willie and let your mom keep the comfort of her kitty boys.

Research shows that many who suffer from cat allergies are also allergic to other things, like pollen and dust. They are often food-sensitive, too. If you can monitor what triggers your son’s allergies and find a way to avoid the other allergens, you may be able to change his response to the cats.

1) Follow commonsense advice

Limit cat allergens by keeping the boys out of your son’s bedroom, brushing them and making sure to vacuum/dust frequently. Your son should also avoid touching his eyes or nose when around the cats. An inexpensive air filter can work magic during the allergy season and may not even be needed the rest of the year.

2) Check your home for possible triggers. 

A major one might be the cats’ litter. If your mom is still using scented litter, consider switching to unscented. Scent chemicals are hidden and unregulated for use with cats or humans. Some find that non-clay litters produce fewer allergic reactions. How sad would it be if the cats’ litter was the culprit and not the cats?

3) Evaluate your cleaning products. 

One study found 457 air contaminants in 24 common household cleaners, including scented laundry detergents, which can contaminate clothing. Many of these chemicals are allergenic and carcinogenic. If your son’s allergies worsen during or after cleaning, look for natural and unscented solutions.

4) Try skipping the scents altogether. 

Scented air “fresheners” like plug-ins, topical sprays and candles have not been proven safe for our animal companions, let alone us. Even natural incense can trigger allergies. 

5) Limit smoking. 

It goes without saying that smoking can trigger allergies, as well as compromise the health of everyone in the home, including the cats. An air filter can often help here too. 

6) Consider new allergy medications

Regular allergy medications can have side effects and allergy testing can be expensive and time-consuming, but there are other solutions. One of our foster moms brought home a group of orphan kittens only to find her husband was severely allergic. Within a few months of using sublingual immunotheraphy—allergy drops—he was able to tolerate their new kitten friends. Three years later he is now allergy-free, even without the drops. Quello is a Colorado-based company that provides this option.

7) Modify their diets. 

This can work for both your son and the cats. Food sensitivities are common to people with allergies. Many doctors say the usual ones include dairy, wheat, corn, eggs, soy and citrus. A simple elimination diet can help identify which foods are the culprits. 

He may only need this modification during high-pollen seasons, so his body doesn’t have to work so hard at processing all the allergens at once. Once spring turns to summer or fall to winter and the offending pollen goes away, he may be able to reintroduce these foods.

A new product on the scene for cats is allergen-reducing cat food. Purina has been making their LiveClear kibble for about three years now, and the online reviews are positive. 

Let’s hope a simple diet change for Waylon and Willie, reducing allergy triggers and/or low-impact immunotherapy for your son will allow you to keep your mom’s family together! 

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