Reducing allergies means increasing cuddle time with your cats!

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Allergies towards cats are fairly common, and while the intensity of reactions vary from person to person, most people experience stuffy noses, itchy or watery eyes, and lots of sneezing. Here's the good news: Even with a mild to moderate allergy towards cats, you can still welcome a feline friend into your family—you'll just need reduce the overall amount of allergens in the home and on your cat, too.

What causes cat allergies?

First and foremost, what causes cat allergies? "Cat dander is composed of microscopic flecks of skin shed by cats. In addition, dried bits of saliva, urine, or feces can become airborne along with the dander," explains Kelly Davis, licensed veterinary technician and claims adjuster from Embrace Pet Insurance. "These tiny airborne particles are not only breathed in, but easily stick to fabrics or furniture and can be carried into and out of the home on our clothes. The allergic reaction occurs when a person adversely reacts to the proteins found in the pet dander and/or dried saliva, urine, or feces."

A protein found in the cat's saliva (Fel d 1) can also contribute to allergic reactions. According to research, this protein tends to be the number one cause of allergic reactions in people. Cats have up to 10 different allergens that they produce in their fur, saliva, and other fluids. Then cats may also collect dust or other allergens in their fur throughout the day. Between the natural allergens and the dust that may be in their fur, it does produce an increased risk of allergic reactions to people who have a sensitivity toward it.

cleaning kitchen cabinets with cat playing
Credit: CasarsaGuru / Getty Images

What can you do to reduce allergens?

Reducing the allergens in the home starts with a few simple changes. Davis recommends investing in a quality HEPA air purifier, which will reduce the allergens floating around in the air. You may also want to regularly vacuum the furniture and the carpets. Vacuums like the Bissell Cleanview Swivel Pet Vacuum Cleaner ($108.99, target.com) are powerful enough to get up even the longest, thickest pet hair. Pet hair accumulation contributes to the allergens, so removing it helps to reduce allergens.

The other option is to remove carpet entirely. "Hardwood floors would be a better choice of flooring than carpet," says Davis. Carpet fibers hold onto dirt, dust, dander, and hair. Regular vacuuming and seasonal shampooing are the only ways to deeply clean the carpet and remove allergens. But hardwood floors just need swept and mopped. And fur remains loose over the floor so that it is easy and quick to remove when cleaning.

And finally, regular grooming or baths for your cat will also help reduce allergens. Find a good brush and make it as fun and enjoyable as possible for your kitty during grooming time. Cats can groom themselves fairly well, but long-haired kitties need extra help to keep their fur smooth and mat-free. An occasional bath will also remove any dust or other grime found on their skin, but make sure to use safe and veterinarian-approved shampoo for your cat and don't get any soap in their eyes or ears. Then,, wrap the cat in a towel to help them to dry off.

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