Cat Allergens & Your Indoor Environment
Cat Allergens – According to many estimates, there are over 80 million cats in the United States and approximately one third of U.S. households have a pet cat. While more households are believed to have a dog, the total number of actual cats is thought to be greater than the dog population.
Sadly, one of the major reasons people give up their pet cat is due to allergies. While millions of people suffer from allergies, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports that as many as 30% of people with allergies have allergic reactions to cats and dogs and cat allergies appear to be about twice as common as dog allergies. Cat allergens could even trigger an asthma attack in some people with the condition.
Cat allergens are primarily found in dander, saliva and urine. A cat’s fur is not generally the culprit, although it can collect dander, saliva and urine or other common allergens such as pollen, dust mites or mold. Cat dander happens to be one of the smaller common allergens. This means it can remain airborne for an extended period of time and eventually settle throughout a large area within a home.
Cat allergy symptoms vary from person to person, but common symptoms may include:
• Stuffy nose, sneezing and nasal congestion
• Coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath
• Inflamed or watery eyes
• Skin rash
There are medical tests to help determine if someone has a cat allergy and there are also services available to test for the presence of cat allergens indoors. There are also simple steps that cat owners with allergies can take to reduce the presence of cat allergens and their exposure. They include the following:
• Bathe cats on a regular basis and brush the cat outdoors
• Keep cats out of bedrooms and especially out of people’s beds
• Wash hands after touching a cat
• Vacuum with a high-efficiency unit and consider flooring options other than carpet that can easily collect cat allergens
• Clean and dust on a regular basis, but try not to aerosolize the cat allergens
• Use a HEPA air cleaner
Source: IAQA Video Network