If you can minimize the non-cat allergens in the air you breathe and control the cat-oriented allergens, your body may be able to tolerate the presence of a cat.
Allergizing Your Home:
Emphasis should be placed on getting rid of allergens in the bedroom, the place where adults spend approximately one-third of their time and children one-half of their time. Not allowing pets in bedrooms would be very helpful.
Use air-conditioning and a humidifier in the appropriate seasons. Clean/change filters on a regular basis. Ideal humidity levels are about 30 to 40 percent.
Use of air purifiers: If possible, invest in a large commercial-size air purifier because room-size units are usually not adequate. An air purifier cleans the air of animal dander, dust, molds, fur, and other air-borne irritants.
Clean up the dander that has accumulated all over the house by vacuuming thoroughly. Damp wipe all counters and furniture. Thoroughly wash all bedspreads, sheets, throw rugs and slip covers, etc. It may take several house cleanings to allergize the home. If this is not accomplished, your family and your pet will simply be picking up loose dander from the house even afier the pet has been allergized.
The more washable surfaces in the home, the better, e.g. wood or linoleum floors, furniture with simple lines and Venetian blinds that wipe clean are better than carpets, upholstered and ornate flirniture, and draperies that collect dust. Nylon and synthetic fabrics and rug piles attract and hold dust much more than wood and nature fabrics.
Special non-allergenic pillows are available. You can also use dacron or other synthetics, not kapok, feather or foam rubber which grows mold, especially in damp areas.
People with allergies are usually sensitive to odors and odors can even trigger an attack. It is advisable to avoid scented make-up, scented tissues, perfumes, tobacco smoke, etc Also, there are some laundry detergents and fabric sofieners which are irritants.
Cat litter: plan clay litter is usually less irritating than scented litter. Deodorizing filters that contain chemicals only mask odors. Use litter which has low-dust or is dust free. Pour litter slowly into the pan to keep dust at a minimum.
If possible have someone in the household without allergies do the vacuuming and litter box cleaning. If this is not an option, wear a pollen mask which can be obtained from a local drug store.
Free roaming (allowing your cat unattended outdoors) of the pet is discouraged. If your cat is allowed to roam free, it may be bringing home many irritants such as pollen, plant juices, poison ivy, etc.
Keep the yard free of dead leaves in the fall, otherwise mold will flourish. Mold can also be abundant in the grass during prolonged wet periods in the spring. In addition, live Christmas trees also harbor molds.
Allergizing Your Cat:
The cat should be combed/brushed daily to control shedding. A coat conditioner should be added to its food to help prevent dry skin and reduce shedding. Coat conditioners can be purchased from pet supply stores or your veterinarian.
Bathe your cat about every six weeks. Use a veterinarian-approved shampoo and rinse the cat very well. Towel off the excess water when the pet is in the tub or sink. Then saturate the coat with a solution that is one part fabric softener, such as Downy, and at least four parts water. Work it into the coat and do not rinse off. This solution coats the hair and skin, and keeps the dander down.
If you are having difficulty with the washing, there are pet groomers in most cities and towns who have expertise in bathing cats. Usually for a small fee, they will bathe your cat(s) for you.
You can also put a light coating of Downy fabric softener on the cat daily. Apply a smmount of a Downy to a wet cloth and rub it over the cat.
Available at pet stores
How to Reduce Allergy Irritants for Baby:
Avoid overheating or sudden chilling. Extreme temperatures and sudden changes in temperature can lower the infant's resistance if he/she is exposed to an irritant.
Stuffed animals and toys made of fabric are dust collectors. It is advisable to keep these objects away from the baby. Plastic, metal and wood toys, and washable animals are preferable.
Before putting new clothes on your baby, wash them thoroughly to remove any excess dye or other chemicals that may be irritants.
Don't apply oils or bath lotions too heavily or too often.
There are remedies available at health food stores to help people with their allergies. Many people report great relief after taking these medications.
It is also possible that medical treatment can be undertaken in the form of hyposensitization. A physician administers a series of injections of cat allergen extract that are gradually increased in strength until the patient is able to tolerate the cat's presence with miinal if any discomfort. Once this tolerance level is reached, maintenance injections keep the symptoms of the allergy under control so that the owner can live with the cat comfortably. Hyposensitization isn't always successful, but it is worth a try.
Prescription drugs have had varying degrees of success. They are for prevention and are not 100% effective. Please ask your doctor about prescription drugs for pet allergies.
Very often, people build up a "resistance" to their own pets and find that their allergy problem decreased as time passed. This is just one more reason not to give up your pet. While you are working at cleaning the air in your home environment, your body is probably also working toward an adjustment.
If you are willing to invest some time and effort, it may be possible to avoid the trauma of giving up a beloved pet due to family members suffering from allergies.
Being Homeless is Nothing to Sneeze At. Published by the Associated Humane Societies, Inc.
"Taming the Environment". Cat Fancy, February 1988, pages 17-18.