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Cat Dander Allergies: Causes and Treatments

In our last post we took a look at the Top Cat Skin Disorders You should Look Out For as a cat owner. Today we look at Cat Dander and its affects. So what exactly is cat dander and what causes cat dander allergies? In the simplest terms cat dander is dead skin cells that have came off your cat in the process of everyday activities. Tiny particles, about 1/10 the size of a dust mite, are released from your cat through various activities (petting, scratching, rubbing against items, etc.) and it is impossible to see them with the naked eye.

Most people who suffer from cat dander allergies are actually having a reaction to a protein compound in the dander called Fel D1. This protein is produced in glands below the skin as well as in the saliva. Thus, when a cat cleans itself the saliva gets on the skin and causes a double dose of the reactive protein. The immune system of those sensitive to this protein go into overdrive when it’s presence is detected. A histamine is produced in mass quantities, causing several symptoms to occur.

A few of the symptoms of those who suffer from cat dander allergies include:

  • Eyes that are red, itchy, watery, or swollen.
  • Nasal congestion with a “runny” nose or/and sinus pressure
  • Itch nose or throat that persist for several days.
  • In extreme cases, hives may break out all over the body and have an itchy, burning sensation.

Studies indicate that male cats produce more dander than females, and those that have not been altered to inhibit reproduction produce more than those that have. While a way has not been found to permanently eradicate cat dander, there are a few simple things you can do that will remove a lot of the dander from your home.

Simple Steps to Keep Cat Dander at a Minimum

1. Use a quality air filter. Since cat dander is small enough to float in the air, a quality whole house HEPA air filter will catch it before it has time to settle.
2. Clean your cat’s bedding and cover the litter box. Dust away your bed sheets regularly, our kitty beds should be cleaned of buildup dead skin as well.
3. Bathe your cat often. A quality cat shampoo will help remove the dead skin, and while it is wet it will go down the drain instead of into the air.
4. When dusting furniture, use a wet cloth. Dry cloths will release dander back into the air.
5. Drapes, curtain, rugs, upholstered furniture should be deep cleaned regularly.

Medical Treatments for Cat Dander Allergies

There are a few ways to combat cat dander allergies, and your doctor will know which ones will work best for you. There are many over the counter medications that act as decongestants and histamine blockers, but these generally just mask the symptoms and leave the root cause unaffected.

Allergy shots and the synthetic epitope vaccine are a more reliable solution. Allergy shots can sometimes completely remove the allergy symptoms, they can sometimes take months or even years of doses to take effect. On the other hand, synthetic epitope vaccines show results in one or two doses and can alleviate symptoms for up to a year in some cases.

Even though the claims have not been solidified by the scientific community, there are several companies that offer hypoallergenic cats. If you have deep enough pockets (prices range from $3,000 USD-$30,000 USD) you can purchase one of these grown cats that are trained and ready for indoor living.

Find a way that works for you to combat feline allergies and enjoy every minute you are near your pet!

 

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