Indoor allergies: should I bathe my cat?
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This is the second in a series on indoor allergies—of which cats are common culprits. For people allergic to cats, the major allergen (substance that causes an allergic reaction) is found in the cat’s saliva, urine and dander (dried flakes of skin).
How can I reduce cat allergen in my house?
The most effective way is to rid the house of the cat. This is not acceptable to most people, and after pet removal, the allergen will remain in the house for 6 months or more. The second choice might be to keep the cat outside, which is not possible in certain climates. And, if the outdoor cat is played with, the sticky allergen makes its way into the house anyway.
What about bathing my cat?
Studies have shown that washing a cat can reduce the amount of allergen on it (the allergen is mostly in cat saliva, and is transferred to the fur by licking). Based on scientific studies, twice weekly washing would be required—and a lot of rinsing, too—so this is not very feasible, nor favored by cats. Perhaps a Cleopatra-style bath (milk bath) would be acceptable to the cat!
What are some other options to reduce cat allergen?
• Removing reservoirs for the allergen, such as carpets, sofas and other upholstered furniture
• Using vacuum cleaners with effective filtration systems
• Installing HEPA-type air filters in rooms, particularly the bedroom
• Increasing ventilation in the house
Is there anything else I can do?
I like to recommend making the bedroom (where we spend most of our indoor time) a “cat-free zone.” After the room is closed off to the cat, it should be cleaned thoroughly, including damp mopping the sticky allergen off the walls, and cleaning window treatments and bedding. After this cleaning, the cat cannot reenter the room (ever), otherwise the allergen level will increase. This means the door to the room needs to remain closed at all times. But, cats are sneaky, so this is not so readily accomplished.
Stay tuned for more information on indoor allergies.
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