Allergic to cat? Solutions. Part 1

 

Dander and dandruff.  Let’s not get hung up on the difference.  They’re the same according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, while other sources define dander as specifically the “almost invisible skin cells that flake off.”

“Dander is made up of tiny bits of dried skin that flake off your cat’s body and become airborne. This may sound like dandruff, but it’s actually much, much smaller and invisible to the human eye.”

“These bits of skin contain a protein called FelD1 that is responsible for the allergic reaction. FelD1 is found in a cat’s urine, sebaceous glands, and saliva. When a cat licks their body, the protein attaches itself and dries, and when the dander flakes off, the allergen becomes airborne.”

So a protein called FelD1 (Felis domesticus allergen I) is the problem for people who are allergic to cats. Some cats have less of this protein, but that’s a whole other topic.

What can you do? Avoid or minimize contact with FelD1.

  1. Don’t let your cat on the bed.
  2. Don’t rub your face and hands against your cat’s body, unless you’re going to wash afterwards.
  3. Keep a clean house.
  4. Don’t keep the litter box in an area where you spend a lot of time. Don’t use a dusty litter. Keep the litter box scooped.
  5. Bare floors are better than carpeting. Don’t choose upholstered furniture.
  6. *Vacuuming, air filtration systems. Not convinced either helps much. Some vacuums blow allergens into the air.  The problem with vac & air fit. is that the equipment needs to be maintained. If not maintained, can become a reservoir of allergens.
  7. Bathing and brushing at least once a week.  If you can’t bathe your cat, wipe your cat down with a hypo-allergenic pet wipe or a wet washcloth as often as you can.  You have to do it at least once a week. For real. See below for study.

“Cats carry large quantities of Fel d 1, only a small proportion of which (approximately 0.002%/hr) becomes airborne. Washing cats by immersion will remove significant allergen from the cat and can reduce the quantity of Fel d 1 becoming airborne. However, the decrease is not maintained at 1 week.”  (From J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1997 Sep;100(3):307-12.  Evaluation of different techniques for washing cats: quantitation of allergen removed from the cat and the effect on airborne Fel d 1.)

My opinion is that shampooing is going to be more effective at decreasing dander than just soaking a cat in water. Why? Shampooing makes cats less oily. Allergens stick to oil.  How do I come to that conclusion? Everything sticks to oil. I don’t need a study to prove this:)

I’m better at shampooing than most owners, so what makes sense is to schedule a bath once a month or as often as you can, while wiping the cat down as often as you can.