As millions of Americans spend unprecedented amounts of time at home, it also means spending unprecedented amounts of time with their pets. And for cat owners who have sensitivities to cat allergens, this can create unforeseen challenges.
According to a recent study by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute and Purina Pro Plan, three in four cat owners say their relationship with their cat is a core part of their health and well-being. However, 26% of households with cat allergen sensitivities also stated that cat allergens have caused huge problems in their life.
Having a cat shouldn't mean choosing between enjoying time with them and living a healthy, full life. Fortunately, there are steps cat owners can take to help manage cat allergens at home.
Step 1: Vacuum and dust regularly
It’s best to vacuum carpet at least twice a week, according to the Carpet and Rug Institute. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to help capture higher levels of allergens. Make sure to focus on spaces where cats play and lay frequently, including below furniture and the furniture itself. This ensures even those cozy corners get clean and don't become a hot spot for allergens.
Hard flooring such as tile, wood and laminate should be cleaned regularly as well to eliminate dust and dander. Vacuum on the low setting to get the suction closest to the hard flooring. Don't forget spaces such as the litter box area because dust from litter can contribute to airborne allergens. Additionally, wet mop at least once a month to more fully clean hard flooring in your home.
Keep in mind, even though your pet can't reach some surfaces physically doesn't mean their allergens won't get there. Microscopic allergens can float through the air and land virtually anywhere, so dust surfaces high and low with a damp rag or microfiber cloth to capture these particles and remove them from the home.
Step 2: Update your cat's diet
Many people think that cat hair itself is the allergen, but it’s actually what’s on it that is problematic — the major cat allergen called Fel d 1, a protein that cats produce naturally in their saliva. When cats groom themselves, the Fel d 1 is transferred to the hair and skin through saliva. The allergen eventually lands in the environment as the cat’s hair and dander shed naturally.
Following a decade of research, Purina has introduced Pro Plan LiveClear, the first and only cat food that reduces the allergens in cat hair and dander. Instead of trying to manage the allergen once it’s already in the environment, the allergen is neutralized at its source in the cat’s mouth. When cats eat the food, the key ingredient — a specific protein sourced from eggs — binds to Fel d 1 and safely neutralizes it. In a published study, the food was shown to reduce the allergens in cat hair and dander by an average of 47%, starting in the third week of daily feeding. Learn more at www.proplanliveclear.com.
Step 3: Groom and brush your cat
An important step in managing allergens at the source is to keep your pet clean. Regularly groom or brush your cat, particularly if they are prone to matted hair. The act of grooming reduces loose hair and thereby reduces the overall allergen load. Some types of brushes will groom and massage at the same time, so once acclimated, many cats enjoy the massage, which can potentially help reduce some stress or anxiety.
Step 4: Wash household items
The next step is to stay on top of cleaning household items. For example, bedding and blankets make a warm bed for pets and therefore harbor a multitude of allergens. Be sure to wash all sheets, blankets and pillowcases in hot water at a minimum of 130 F to remove allergens and kill other triggers such as dust mites, according to the Mayo Clinic. Consider making a habit of washing bedding and blankets weekly to remove allergens from your home.
By combining these allergen management strategies, cat owners can better handle their current situations and be closer together with the cats they love.