Can You Get Rid Of A Cat Allergy?

What Causes Cat Allergies

Cat allergies are triggered by a protein found in cat dander, skin flakes, saliva and urine. When a person with a cat allergy comes into contact with these allergens, their immune system identifies the protein as a foreign invader and releases antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE) to attack it (source). The release of IgE triggers the release of chemicals like histamine that cause allergy symptoms.

The specific protein that triggers cat allergies is called Fel d 1. It is found in cat skin, saliva and sebaceous glands. When a cat grooms itself, Fel d 1 particles from saliva stick to the fur. As the fur sheds, the dander containing Fel d 1 is released into the environment where it can cause an allergic reaction if inhaled or come into contact with the skin or eyes (source).

Symptoms of Cat Allergies

The most common symptoms of cat allergies include sneezing, itchy eyes, and a runny nose. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the major cat allergy symptoms include:

  • Sneezing or a runny or stuffy nose
  • Itchy, red, watery eyes
  • Facial pain from nasal congestion

WebMD also lists sneezing and itchy, watery eyes as main cat allergy symptoms. Runny noses are caused by the body’s immune response to the Fel d 1 protein found in cat skin flakes, saliva, and urine. When cat allergens are inhaled, it triggers the immune system to release histamine, which causes sneezing, itchy eyes, and other allergy symptoms.

Diagnosing Cat Allergies

To diagnose a cat allergy, doctors usually begin with a skin prick test or a blood test to look for IgE antibodies to cat allergens. These are the main methods used:

Skin prick test – In this test, a small amount of allergen extract from cat dander is pricked or scratched into the skin’s surface. If a raised, red bump forms within 15-20 minutes, it indicates an allergy. This is usually done by an allergist.

Blood test for IgE antibodies – A sample of blood is analyzed to measure the level of IgE antibodies to specific allergens. Higher levels indicate an allergy. This test is available from regular doctors or allergists (Source:

Skin prick testing or blood tests for IgE can help confirm that symptoms are due to a cat allergy versus other conditions. They also provide information needed to pursue allergy treatments.


One of the most effective ways to manage cat allergies is through avoidance techniques. As much as possible, keeping the cat out of spaces where you spend a lot of time can significantly reduce allergen exposure.

Make bedrooms off-limits to cats. Since you spend about a third of your time in the bedroom sleeping, it’s imperative to keep it as dander-free as possible. Use HEPA air purifiers and practice rigorous cleaning protocols to remove allergens. Consider washing bedding weekly in hot water to prevent buildup on linens. Keep the door closed at all times and do not allow the cat in the bedroom (

Also restrict access to main living areas like the family room or den where you spend time relaxing. Use baby gates to keep the cat confined to non-carpeted areas of the home. Limit furnishings like upholstered couches where dander can accumulate. Keeping your distance from the cat in common areas can lessen allergy symptoms.


There are several medications that can help relieve allergy symptoms for people with cat allergies. The main types are:


Antihistamines work by blocking the effects of histamine, which is released by the immune system during an allergic reaction. Common antihistamines used for cat allergies include diphenhydramine (Benadryl), cetirizine (Zyrtec), fexofenadine (Allegra), and loratadine (Claritin) (Chewy, 2022). These can help relieve symptoms like sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, and runny nose.


Decongestants constrict blood vessels to reduce swelling and mucus production. Examples include pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine. These medications can provide relief from nasal congestion caused by cat allergies (Mayo Clinic, 2022).

It’s best to take antihistamines and decongestants as directed by your doctor or pharmacist. Long-term use of decongestants should be avoided due to the risk of rebound congestion. Medications can help control allergy symptoms, but they don’t cure the underlying allergy.


Immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, is a long-term treatment option for cat allergies. It works by gradually exposing the immune system to small amounts of cat allergens in order to decrease sensitivity over time. Immunotherapy involves receiving regular injections containing cat allergen extracts. The doses are gradually increased over the course of treatment, which typically lasts 3-5 years. Research shows that allergy shots can significantly reduce cat allergy symptoms and the need for medication in many people.

Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is an alternative method that involves placing liquid extracts containing cat allergens under the tongue. SLIT works similarly to allergy shots to decrease immune system reactions to cat allergens over time. Some studies show SLIT can improve cat allergy symptoms and reduce medication needs. However, allergy shots tend to be more effective than SLIT for cat allergies specifically. More research is needed to determine the optimal doses and treatment length for SLIT.

According to the National Institutes of Health, recent research has led to promising advances in immunotherapy for cat allergies, including combining allergy shots with a monoclonal antibody medication to make the treatment more effective and faster-acting.[1] While immunotherapy doesn’t provide a full cure, it can enable people with cat allergies to tolerate cat exposure with less severe symptoms.

Air Purifiers

One way to help manage cat allergies at home is to use an air purifier. Air purifiers work by pulling air through filters that capture allergens like pet dander, pollen, and dust. Look for air purifiers that use high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, which can remove up to 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns or larger from the air 1.

HEPA air purifiers are effective at reducing cat allergen levels in the home. Research shows using a HEPA air purifier can reduce feline allergens by up to 96% 2. Look for units with a large enough cleaning capacity for the size of your room. Some air purifiers also contain ionizers which give particles a negative charge so they stick to surfaces instead of floating in the air.

When shopping for an air purifier, look for ones specifically designed for pet allergies that are energy efficient and produce low noise levels. Also consider smart air purifiers you can control from your smartphone. Using an air purifier along with other allergy management techniques can help provide allergy relief at home.

Bathing Cats

One potential way to reduce cat allergens is to bathe your cat regularly. According to a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, washing cats with soap and water can reduce levels of the Fel d 1 allergen found in cat dander and saliva ( However, the reduction in allergens is temporary. To see significant results, cats need to be bathed as often as twice per week. This frequency of bathing is not ideal for cats, as their skin produces oils that keep their coat and skin healthy.

While bathing may provide minor temporary relief, it’s not very feasible as a long-term solution. The level of bathing required is quite stressful for most cats. Additionally, excessive bathing strips away essential oils and leaves their skin dry. Most experts don’t recommend frequent baths as an allergy reduction strategy. At best, it may supplement other techniques like medications, air filters, or immunotherapy (

Lifestyle Changes

Making some changes to your daily habits and home environment can help reduce allergen exposure from cats. Here are some tips:

Vacuum frequently using a vacuum with a HEPA filter, which can trap small particles like cat dander. Focus on carpets, fabric furniture, and cat beds. Vacuum at least twice a week in the rooms your cat frequents.

Wash all bedding weekly in hot water to remove allergens that accumulate from your cat sleeping on the bed. Use allergen-proof mattress and pillow covers.

Restrict your cat from accessing bedrooms and keep them out of carpeted rooms as much as possible. Place mats at entryways to limit tracked-in allergens.

Bathe your cat regularly to reduce the amount of allergen in their fur. Use cat-safe allergen reducing shampoos.

Consider placing an air purifier with a HEPA filter in the main living area to remove allergens from the air.

Clean frequently to prevent buildup of dander. Use a damp microfiber cloth and vacuum to thoroughly remove allergens from surfaces.

Is There a Cure?

Unfortunately, there is currently no complete cure for cat allergies. The immune system reactions that cause allergy symptoms cannot be reversed or eliminated entirely. However, the good news is that cat allergy symptoms can often be managed effectively through medications, immunotherapy, and lifestyle adjustments.

Allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, can help decrease sensitivity and reduce immune system reactions over time. According to research from the National Institutes of Health, experimental extended immunotherapy treatments provided longer lasting relief from cat allergies than standard injections. While not a full cure, this treatment can potentially enable people to tolerate exposure to cats better in the long run.

Antihistamines and other allergy medications can provide daily relief from symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes, and runny nose. Certain lifestyle changes, like keeping cats out of bedrooms, bathing cats regularly, and using air purifiers can also minimize exposure to allergens that trigger reactions. Overall, a combination approach tailored to each individual can often successfully manage cat allergy symptoms on an ongoing basis.

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