You’re allergic to cats you say? When you’re around them your eyes get red and puffy, your nose starts running, and you begin to sneeze incessantly?

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya via Unsplash

I’ve heard this tale of woe before.

When I was a little girl, we adopted a kitten. I got to pick her from the litter. My brother got to name her so he did what any 9-year old would do. He named Siggy after a friend in his elementary school class named Ziggy.My father was severely allergic to cats so Siggy was initially an outdoor-only cat. This was back in the 70’s when cars were the only real danger to cats. With plenty of food to hunt back in those days, coyotes very rarely ventured down to the neighborhoods in Los Angeles where I grew up.

A few years later, my parents got divorced.  The silver lining was that with my dad’s allergies no longer an issue, Siggy became an indoor / outdoor cat. A hybrid. She spent her days roaming the neighborhood and her nights cuddled up with me in my bed.

Fast forward to January 2002 when I met my husband. He knew I had a cat but decided to date me in spite of being allergic to cats. Fortunately, he fell in love with me AND Bella.

Am I allergic to cats or their fur?

Photo by Eric Han on Unsplash

The short answer is neither. You are allergic to the protein that is often found in a cat’s saliva. When they clean themselves, that saliva transfers and clings to the dead skin (dander).

Allergy meds can help make your allergies to cats tolerable

For my husband, taking a daily allergy relief medication like Zyrtec or Claritan makes it tolerable having two cats (and a dog) in the house. It doesn’t eliminate his allergies, but it significantly reduces them.

For others, this may not be enough.

Consider a hypoallergenic cat

Though we always encourage adopting a cat from a shelter, certain purebred cats are more hypoallergenic than others. According to PetMD, no cat is 100% hypoallergenic. However, some cats produce less allergens than others.

Other ways to reduce allergies to cats

  • Get rid of your carpet
  • Vacuum floors frequently
  • Don’t let you cat sleep in your bed
  • Bath your pet to get rid of dander

Being allergic to cats does not mean you shouldn’t consider being a cat parent. And nothing in life is without challenge. If you are as over the moon for cats as I am, you will find a way to make your allergies to cats not interfere with being a cat parent.