If you love animals, it can be heartbreaking to suddenly experience an allergy to them. Cats in particular pose a serious problem for many allergy sufferers. While curing cat allergies is not entirely possible, there are many avenues for alleviation or total relief from symptoms. Cat allergies are much easier to manage if you do not actually live with a cat, and just come in contact with some outside of your home, but even owners can benefit from the search for a cure.
How to cure cat allergies naturally
Allergies to anything, including cats, are rather unpredictable. There are many examples of people who seem to grow out of their cat allergy naturally. A child experiencing severe allergy symptoms to a cat may suddenly, with age, find their condition has improved or eradicated with no other explanation. Others who lived an allergy-free childhood abruptly find themselves sneezing at cats well into adulthood. While medical opinions vary, doctors do agree that allergies are caused by the sensitivities of the immune system, and as you can imagine, this delicate, complicated network is in flux of the course of your lifespan, maximizing what it has, strengthening and weakening with a variety of biological and environmental factors in play.
You can also be allergic to one cat, but not so much another. The triggers of a cat allergy are dander and saliva. Some mild-to-moderately allergic people build up an immunity to their own cat’s dander and saliva, essentially curing their own cat allergy through exposure. However, when they visit a different home with a cat, this cat can cause a significant reaction they did not expect. This could be the variation in that specific cat’s dander and saliva, but it could also be due to the grooming, gender, and diet of that different cat.
What is dander, exactly? Dander are the shed skin cells from a cat. These flakes are usually so tiny you will never see them, but they catch in the fur. In fact, if you want to cure a cat allergy, anything that catches shed fur is a hotbed of allergenic potential. All plush furniture, carpets, or fabrics a cat sits on will meet at least a little bit of dander. Homes with laminate or hardwood flooring, and leather or leatherette furniture are much easier to keep clean of pet hair and therefore dander, making allergies much less severe. The dander also, being very light and virtually invisible, travels to hard surfaces to settle with other particles that make up what we simply call ‘dust’. Saliva also dries onto the cat’s fur after grooming, and the microscopic saliva flakes bonded to the shed fur can actually be even more irritating than the dander.
If you are living with a cat that you are allergic to, there are a few steps to take before considering rehoming the cat. An obvious cure are antihistamines. Antihistamine tablets coat the receptors that meet with the histamines, or allergens that trigger an attack. They are best used as a preventative measure before meeting with a cat or their dander, but can reduce the severity of prolonged exposure once the reaction is underway. Steroid nasal sprays can also be useful. It is best to find the optimal solution by having a chat with a medical professional.
Sufferers who experience a very mild or inconsistent allergy to cats can find the cure to be as simple as improved grooming practices and a change in food. Reducing the amount of hair being shed and keeping the cat’s skin healthy can go a long way in resolving allergy attacks. To start, take your cat to a professional groomer, so you’re not faced with the entire initial burden of reducing the dander. After that, commit to regular brushings. Cats can really learn to love the attention and help you provide with grooming them- just be wary of areas on the cat’s body that you know they do not like being touched by others. If you have a cat that will not cooperate with regular bathings, as many will not, wipe them down with a wet paper towel a few times per week.
Healthy skin means less shed and dander, so cat allergy relief may be found with diet. If your cat eats highly processed pet food with indeterminable ingredients, switch them to a brand of better quality with simple, wholesome ingredients. There is little research to support this as a cure for allergies, but those with intermittent and mild symptoms swear by it.
Allergy shots, or immunotherapy, are a no-nonsense, straight-to-the-source way of dealing with cat allergies. This is a great option, albeit an expensive and involved one, for those who suffer prolonged attacks, have little success with pills, and cannot avoid a cat. This is a form of exposure therapy, since the doses you’re injected with contain a bit of the allergen that is so irritating. At first, a doctor will administer the shots quite often, up to a few times per week. The dose is gradually increased, and eventually the number of administered shots drops off, until you only need to receive what are called ‘maintenance’ doses. Some doctors maintain that during the more intensive times of treatment, you should not be regularly exposed to cat allergens in your home, so it’s a better treatment plan for someone will severe allergies who wants to avoid future catastrophe.
Even if one method works very well for some, there is no universal cure for cat allergies. If one develops a sudden and severe allergy to their cat, rehoming the pet can be necessary and surprisingly beneficial to both parties. If an owner needs to avoid contact with their cat, this can be upsetting to the animal also. It is very sad to part ways with a beloved pet, but sometimes allergies cannot be relieved and lead to a nearly full-time illness, or dangerous asthma attacks. Finding the cat a new, loving home where no one needs to avoid one another under threat of illness is the most surefire, humane way of all.