How To Live With Cats And Allergies

cats and allergies

This picture. It makes me want to sneeze.

My allergies have gotten so bad, I’ve started to apologize when I sneeze. Ever gotten to that point? Where people around you don’t even bother to say bless you anymore? Where your sneezes come in waves of three, and your pockets/bags are riddled with half-open packages of kleenex? Yea. That’s me.

But even with allergies this severe, ousting my fur children has never once crossed my mind. As a seriously committed pet guardian, I’ve learned to coexist (somewhat) peacefully with my dander-lions and my overactive immune system.


Here’s how:


1. Segregate an area of your house as a “kitty-free” zone (Like your bedroom)

calm bedroomI’ve heard that this is doable, at least. Personally, I don’t know what I’d do without nightly histamine cuddles from my purr-balls, but I don’t doubt that this is a smart tactic to greatly alleviate pet allergy symptoms.

If you’d like to attempt this separation, the first step is to remove all kitty paraphernalia from your room. Go on, shake a broomstick under the bed and fish out every last forgotten sisal mouse. Re-launder all your linens in hot water (ideally any rugs as well), and vacuum thoroughly with a HEPA vacuum (more on that later).


Now comes the hard part: actually keeping the sneaky buggers out. Here’s a straightforward plan of attack:


  1. Keep your door closed at all times, and make a habit of entering/exiting quickly.
  2. Place odor deterrents—like a bowl of vinegar or lemon rinds—by the doorway (don’t you just love the crinkly faces of abject horror cats make when confronted with lemon?).
  3. For more aggressive cat curbing, get yourself an electronic cat deterrent like Ssscatwhich sprays a burst of air when your cat gets too close. I’d place one facing horizontally across the threshold, so kitty associates leaning up against, clawing, or jumping up on the closed door with air blasts, but can still walk by unscathed.
  4. Use positive reinforcement (like clicker training) and reward your cat whenever it responds to you directing its attention away from the door.
  5. Ensure that the areas kitty is allowed to be in are super enticing, with lots of toys, beds, and vertical space.



2. Make sure you’re vacuuming regularly with a HEPA vacuum

hepa vacuum filterHEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance (or Air), with HEPA filters able to trap particles down to 0.3 microns…Ok, getting too technical.

Basically, any pollen, dander, dust mite feces (yum!), and even certain bacteria and viruses floating around gets trapped within the filter, rather than simply being blown around your house. I get tingles just thinking about it, it’s so badass.


Make sure your vacuum has a true HEPA filter, rather than “HEPA-type” or “HEPA-like” filter. Here’s the one I have. Sometimes I love that thing more than I love my cats.



3. Brush your kitties often 

Brushing your cats (ideally outside, like in your backyard or a kitty-safe balcony) cuts down on all the rampant, unchecked shedding they like to do in your house.

A slicker brush—like this self-cleaning one by Safari—works great for long-haired cats, but I personally find isn’t as effective on short coats as a de-shedding tool. There are a lot of fancy “brand name” de-shedding tools out there, but this one is half the price and I find works just as well.

What that said…



4. When brushing said kitties or cleaning out the litter box, throw on a HEPA mask

3m hepa maskYes, they’ll make you look kind of like an extra from Outbreak. But trust me, wearing one will significantly reduce the amount of gagging/eye watering/sneezing that goes on.




5. Cut down on the carpeting

hardwood floors catIt’s the 21st century! Why do you still have carpet in your house??

I kid. I’m actually an absolute sucker for cute area rugs. My husband goes insane because I insist on swapping them out every few years. (What, the designs are always getting better…)

BUT if you can (and I plan to), eliminate any unnecessary carpets or rugs in your house.


The fibers in carpet trap 100x more allergens than hardwood flooring does. Madness, right? If you’re not yet ready to part with the sweet, plush 80’s—remember to vacuum and steam clean religiously!



6. Get a HEPA air-purifier

germguardianOk, I know it seems like I have a hard-on for HEPA filters, but that’s only because I have a hard-on for HEPA filters. If you’re an allergy sufferer, HEPA filters are the greatest invention since cat TV.

Here’s the one I have. But there are tons of different kinds available, depending on your room size and desired functionality.



7. If all else fails, medicate yourself into foggy oblivion

Actually, taking your allergy meds is probably a good idea regardless of whether your home sanitation regimen is working or not.

I pop generic Zyrtec (called Aller-Tec), available at Costco for $16, for 365 tablets. It’s SUPER EFFECTIVE!



I hope this was helpful for you. If you’re on the verge of allergies-induced madness, give this regimen a try. And remember, you’re not alone!


What are allergies? Can I eat them?

What are allergies? Can I eat them?



Have a burning cat question you’d like to see answered? Leave me a comment below!

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