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How to Overcome Cat Allergies

By Amy P. Castro

With stay-at-home orders and social distancing, people are turning to the companionship of animals now more than ever. In fact, reports that April 2020 was a record-breaking month for cats, with nearly 86,000 cat inquiries. With so many people adding cats to their families and spending more time with them, it’s likely someone in the home will discover they have cat-allergen sensitivities.

Many people think cat hair itself is the allergen. However, it’s what’s on the hair that’s problematic. The source is the major cat allergen called Fel d 1, a protein that cats produce naturally in their saliva. When cats groom themselves, Fel d 1 is transferred to the hair and skin through saliva and eventually lands in the environment as the cat’s hair and dander shed.

“Purina scientists have researched cat allergens for more than a decade and discovered a breakthrough approach that can safely and significantly reduce allergens in cat hair and dander. Pro Plan LiveClear, which is available now, is the first and only cat food shown to reduce allergens in cat hair and dander by an average of 47 percent starting with the third week of daily feeding,” according to Dr. Kurt Venator, chief veterinary officer at Purina.

Instead of trying to manage the allergen in the environment, the allergen is neutralized at its source in the cat’s mouth. When cats eat the food, the key ingredient—a specific protein sourced from eggs—binds to Fel d 1 and safely neutralizes it. Combined with traditional allergy-reduction strategies, it has the potential to be a game-changer for allergy sufferers.

“The intent is that Pro Plan LiveClear can be another tool to help cat owners bond even more closely with the cats they love,” Venator noted.

Grooming your cat

An important step in managing allergens is to regularly groom your cat, particularly if they are prone to matting. Grooming reduces loose hair and thus the overall allergen load. Some brushes will groom and massage at the same time, so once acclimated, many cats enjoy the massage, which can help reduce some stress or anxiety.

Vacuum and dust regularly

The Carpet and Rug Institute recommends vacuuming carpet at least twice a week, Focus on spaces where cats play and lay frequently, including on and under furniture.  Tile, wood and laminate floors should be vacuumed on the low setting to get the best suction. Don’t forget spaces such as the litter-box area because litter dust can contribute to airborne allergens.

Remember, microscopic allergens can float through the air and land virtually anywhere, even surfaces your pet can’t reach physically. Dust surfaces high and low with a damp rag or microfiber cloth to capture these particles and remove them from the home.

Wash household items weekly

Bedding and blankets make a warm bed for pets and therefore harbor a multitude of allergens. The Mayo Clinic recommends washing all sheets, blankets and pillowcases in hot water at a minimum of 130 F to remove allergens and kill other triggers such as dust mites.