Hi everyone! I know, the Bearded Man and the Lady are just the worst at continuing the blog. Luckily, from time to time, we get writers approach us who are looking for an outlet for their terrific work.
We hope that you enjoy guest blogger Cory Yeakel's post on how to live with and love a cat even if you have cat allergies! As a lot of you know, the Bearded Man is allergic to cats, including Matilda, and wasn't too thrilled when the Lady insisted that it was time to incorporate a feline friend. With time and a little bit of modification however, the two of them were snuggling and booping noses with careless abandon. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Living with Cats When You Have Allergies
By Cory Yeakel
Let me come right out and admit it – growing up, I was not a cat person. It wasn’t because I didn’t love the adorable little fur balls, it was because I was allergic. I did just fine with dogs, but any time I visited a house with cats, my sinuses would start acting up and I’d be miserable for the next 24-48 hours. I didn’t think it would ever be too much of a worry in my life, but as fate would have it, one day I would meet a girl… and of course, she freaking loves cats.
When we finally reached the point of living together, we started talking pets. Naturally, I voted for a dog, and naturally, she voted for a cat. So, we did what any good couple would do, and we came to a compromise – we got a cat (two, in fact). And you’ll never guess who they love most… me.
For about the first year, my sinuses hated me. I went through more boxes of tissues than I could count. I was happy to push through it because my love for the kitties far outweighed the annoyance of my allergies, but still, my girlfriend and I were determined to figure out a solution. We started doing little things here and there in hopes that my allergies would get better, and slowly, but surely, they did.
I know I’m not the only one out there who deals with cat allergies (in fact, I’m told the Bearded Man and I have this in common!), so if you’re one of those people, here are a few things I’d recommend to keep your sinuses at bay to keep kitty play time as long as possible!
- Set up dedicated cat areas
If there’s only one tip you take away from this post, let it be this one. The best thing I ever did was set up specific areas for our cats to hangout. Everyone knows that cats love to lounge, and before, their favorite spots were our bed, our couch, and various other places where we would spend a good chunk of time. Obviously, this meant their hair and other kitty dander were heaviest in those places, which really riled up the allergies.
One day, I came home with a huge cat tree. They were kind of puzzled by it at first, but once I put some catnip and toys on different levels and showed them it was for them, it became their new playground. Next, I set up a window perch in both the front and back of the house for outdoor viewing, and again, with a little bit of coercing, they attracted like magnets. They no longer cared to stretch out across the couch or our bed, they wanted to be perched high on their cat tree or staring out the window at birds (we also made our bedroom off-limits, just to be safe).
Consequently, the hair and dander around the house started to decrease as they spent more time in their lounge spots, which was a major win for my sinuses.
- Clean thoroughly and often
This tip probably comes as no surprise: the more you clean, the less cat dander will be around to mess with your allergies. We make it a point to clean the litter box daily and vacuum once or twice a week (including the cat areas). This is nothing groundbreaking, but I wanted to include a few extra points – we also use dust-free litter in the litter box to help bring down particles in the air, as well as a HEPA filter in the vacuum to trap as much dust and dander as possible.
- Use an air purifier
Routinely running the vacuum gets rid of the bulk of hair and dander, but for all the microscopic particles that linger around in the air, an air purifier is a huge help. To be honest, I never believed in them much before owning one. They always seemed like such a “hype” product, but my mom swears by these things, so I gave one a try. The first time I changed the filter and saw how dirty it was, I became a believer (this is also a HEPA filter, just FYI). As most of us with allergies know, it’s the airborne stuff that does the most damage, so I’d highly recommend a purifier now that I’ve had a chance to see their results. We run ours daily.
- Wash your cats – the right way
When we first got our cats, one of my first thoughts on reducing my allergies was, “I’ll just give them baths all the time!” If I bathe them more often, I’ll be getting rid of the hair and dander before it has a chance to spread everywhere and stoke my allergies, right? I tried bathing them once to twice a week for the first six months or so, but it didn’t seem to be doing much.
I decided to do a bit more reading on the matter, and that’s when I figured out that cat allergies aren’t just caused by the hair itself – they actually stem from a protein that cats produce in their saliva and skin called Fel d 1. And the weekly washing wasn’t really doing anything because Fel d 1 levels can get right back where they were before the bath within just 24 hours. So, I went another route: cat wipes.
Cat wipes are basically like baby wipes, but made specifically for your kitty. They’re wet, hypoallergenic, and are used to wipe away hair, dander, and most of the existing Fel d 1 your cat produces daily. As you can imagine, this is far more convenient than an actual full-blown bath (both for us and the kitties), which makes it an all-around win-win.
As soon as I started wiping them down every other day, it made a pretty noticeable difference in my sneezing and stuffiness. We still give them a real bath a few times a month, but that’s more for general cleanliness and hygiene, not to combat allergens.
Living with cats when you have allergies can be tough if you don’t have a plan. The four points above might sound like a lot of effort, but believe me, my clear sinuses are worth every minute of it. Thanks to these efforts, I now spend my nights watching TV shows with my girlfriend at my side and my kitties in my lap (of course, that’s their favorite spot), and the only time I sneeze is when I have a cold.