AtCHOO -- But I Love My Pet!

No one wants to live with a runny nose & eyes, constantly sneezing... but this is the reality for millions of people who are allergic to animals, particularly cats. Many of those people already have pets or would like to have one.

While everyone's allergies are different, and some people truly cannot share a household with the species they're allergic to... there are some ways to make it manageable and keep pets with the families who love them! Check out these tips.

First: Verify the Allergen
Allergies can sometimes overlap. You may think you're allergic to a pet when you are actually allergic to a type of plant, pollen, or even food. Or maybe you walk your dog regularly through a wooded area. Your dog may have gotten a certain type of plant spores on its fur and you're allergic to THAT, and not your dog! Get tested at an allergist's office so you can best determine how to manage your symptoms.

Household Cleaning
*Keep in mind that people are mostly allergic to dander & urine, not pet hair itself. While cleaning up excess pet hair can help allergies, it is not the end-all be-all solution.*

  • When possible, choose hard floor coverings like laminate, tile, or hardwood rather than carpet
  • Vacuum carpets & rugs regularly with a HEPA-filtered vacuum to reduce the amount of pet hair
  • Try not to allow pets into bedrooms
  • Wash curtains & bedding regularly
  • Use plastic allergen-blocking covers between pillows/mattresses and the linens

Cat Litterboxes

  • Choose a dust-free or minimal-dust brand of cat litter
  • If possible, have someone scoop the box regularly who is not allergic so you don't have to
  • Keep the litterbox contained in an area away from common living spaces (but still avoid noisy places like laundry rooms)

Try A Treatment
There are a variety of allergy medications & treatments on the market, from daily pills to antihistamine sprays to series of shots. Talk to your doctor and your allergist about the best plan for you. But be sure to emphasize that you are not willing to surrender your pet and that alternative options are the only options. If your medical provider does not seem to respect your decision to keep your family together, find a new one.

Can't I Just Get a Hypoallergenic Pet?
Those do not exist. As mentioned above, what actually causes allergies is a protein in saliva & urine... not hair. So the type of hair a pet has, or how much they shed, is mostly irrelevant. Some breeders may try to swindle people into believing a certain type of pet (i.e. Doodle dogs or Sphinx cats) will eliminate allergies, but they will not.

Allergen-Reducing Cat Food
Purina has released an allergen-reducing food for cats! It helps to inhibit the protein, Fel-d-1, that causes symptoms in people who are allergic to cats. Don't worry -- it does not harm the cat in any way! Learn about Purina Pro Plan LiveClear here!

Other Sources:
HSUS: Living with Allergies & Pets
Best Friends Animal Society: Pet Allergies Tips
Petfinder: Coping with Allergies to Pets