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.”
“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.
- Don’t let your cat on the bed.
- Don’t rub your face and hands against your cat’s body, unless you’re going to wash afterwards.
- Keep a clean house.
- 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.
- Bare floors are better than carpeting. Don’t choose upholstered furniture.
- *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.
- 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.