Allergy/Asthma Information Association

Are you allergic to cats?

The best way to deal with this allergy is to find another loving home for your pet. The alternative is to try to reduce the amount of cat allergen in the home, but this won't be nearly as effective as removing the cat.

Cat allergens are found mainly in the cat's skin and cat dander (skin flakes) tends to be deposited throughout the home, particularly in carpets, sofas, blankets, beds, etc. Cat dander is not easily removed nor is it easily avoidable as it is very light in weight. The particles can remain airborne for hours and it is also "sticky." It is well known that cat allergen is not only present in homes with cats but also present in schools and public buildings and even homes without cats.

The primary focus of measures to reduce cat allergen in a home with cats is to reduce the amount of allergen in carpets, sofas, drapes and blankets, etc. Exclude the cat from bedrooms and if possible keep it outdoors. Regular vacuum cleaning is essential to prevent accumulation of allergens (using a machine with adequate filtration, e.g., double thickness bags or HEPA filters). Vacuum carpets, mattresses and upholstery regularly.

Washing animals regularly (as often as twice weekly) removes large quantities of allergen, but this is easier said than done in the case of cats. It is unclear whether air filtration will help since it may "stir up" cat allergen leading to a higher amount circulating in the air.

If you have had contact with a cat, changing and washing your clothing will remove the allergen.

The above information is taken from an article on the WAO site by Thomas A E Platts-Mills, Asthma and Allergic Diseases Center, University VA Medical Center, Charlottesville, VA. For further information go to the WAO's Allergic Diseases Resource Center at Next link will open in a new windowwww.worldallergy.org/professional/allergic_diseases_center/allergen_avoidance/index.shtml

from Allergy & Asthma News, Issue 1 2005

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