Wheezing Over Whiskers

It isn’t easy being wheezy. But unfortunately, about 40 percent of pet-lovers who get asthma are sensitive to cats. Or more specifically, a glycoprotein called Fel D1, which is produced by sebaceous glands under a feline’s skin, and in their saliva. This little meow mix is then spread around your home in dander; the mix of saliva, dust and dead skin cells which a cat naturally sheds; which then becomes the main course for dust mites – another cause of allergies. Hisss.

These particles are so tiny – smaller than a Munchkin cat, for sure – that they stay in the air for long periods of time. And they are sticky, too – easily spread on clothing and shoes. Cat’s the truth. Dander can also remain on walls and fabrics for a good chunk of time. In fact, research shoes it can still have residence in a mattress up to five years after a feline no longer has access to it. Me-WOW.

So, if you’re one of those lucky 40 percent who cat-fight with asthma, unfortunately no cat breed is 100 percent allergy-proof. Although we can tell you some breeds have naturally lower levels of Fel D1 or shed less fur, such as the Siberian, Bengal, Russian Blue and Balinese. Some breeders will even test for Fel D1, for pet-lovers with allergies to cats.

Cat’s a fact: Male felines release more Fel D1 than females, because of their higher levels of testosterone. Darker-coloured cats as well produce more Fel D1 than lighter-coloured kitties.

How to keep allergens on a short leash.

  • Have easy-to-clean floors such as concrete, wood, lino or tiles.
  • Wear cotton instead of woollen clothing, which particles just clings to.
  • Keep your pets out of bedrooms or other rooms where you spend heaps of time.
  • Protect your mattresses with plastic or a sheet.
  • Ask someone without an allergy to groom your cat outside, where they can remove loose hair and wipe your cat’s face and neck where Fel D1 levels are highest. (And if they agree, take them out for a tuna sandwich.)
  • Make sure you put the regular cat-bash on fleas and worms, so your cat won’t scratch.
  • Wipe walls regularly with a damp cloth to remove the sticky cat dander.
  • HEPA air filters are cat-tastic for reducing allergen levels by up to 50%. You’ll just want to make sure the filter isn’t near any furnishings or carpet, because you don’t want it to disturb particles that have settled.
  • HEPA vacuum cleaners also remove more allergy-causing particles than their standard cousin vac does.

And finally, air rooms out often, especially if your home is well-insulated. Getting all that air moving will help prevent build-ups of dander.

Cat’s all, folks!

Source: Article originally published in Masterpet publication ‘Two Dogs, One Cat’, Summer 2014 edition
Information:
www.asthmafoundation.org.nz, www.allergyclinic.co.nz

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