3 Surprising Ways to Make Yourself Less Allergic to Cats

Understand Cat Allergies

Cat allergies are caused by proteins found in cat dander, saliva, and urine. When someone with a cat allergy comes into contact with these proteins, their immune system mistakenly identifies them as harmful invaders and releases histamine to defend the body against them. This immune system overreaction to harmless cat proteins is what causes allergy symptoms.

The most common symptoms of cat allergies include sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, a runny nose, and coughing. These symptoms arise within minutes to hours after exposure to cat allergens and can range from mild to severe. In rarer cases, some people may experience hives, asthma flare ups, or even anaphylaxis when exposed to cats.

It’s estimated that 10-20% of people are allergic to cats. Allergies are more common in childhood but some people develop cat allergies later in life. There are higher rates of cat allergies than dog allergies, likely because cats produce more of the Fel d 1 allergen protein than dogs produce of their allergen protein Can f 1. Cat allergens are also very sticky and easily spread through the air and on clothing.

Reduce Exposure

One of the most effective ways to reduce your cat allergy symptoms is to limit your exposure to cat allergens. Allergen particles shed by cats can accumulate in fabrics and carpets in your home, so it’s important to keep cats out of bedrooms and limit time spent around cats.

The bedroom should be a cat-free zone, and the door should remain closed to prevent allergens from circulating into the room. Any fabrics in the bedroom, including bedding, should be washed frequently in hot water to kill allergens. Vacuuming, dusting, and cleaning the bedroom regularly can also help remove allergens that may trigger allergy symptoms.

After interacting with your cat, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Allergens can stick to clothing as well, so changing clothes after exposure may provide symptom relief. Setting aside dedicated time with your cat while minimizing overall exposure is an effective approach.


Antihistamines like Zyrtec can provide relief for cat allergies. Antihistamines block histamine, which the body produces during an allergic reaction. Common over-the-counter antihistamines include loratadine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec), and diphenhydramine (Benadryl). These medications can reduce allergy symptoms such as sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, and a runny nose (source).

Nasal sprays containing corticosteroids such as fluticasone propionate (Flonase Allergy Relief) and triamcinolone (Nasacort Allergy 24HR) may help relieve nasal allergy symptoms from cats. These nasal sprays work by reducing inflammation in the nasal passages that causes congestion, sneezing, and a runny nose (source).

Allergy shots containing small amounts of cat allergens can help build tolerance over time. These immunotherapy shots work by slowly exposing the immune system to cat allergens to desensitize your body’s reactions. Allergy shots often take several months to start working but can significantly reduce allergy symptoms long-term (source).

Air Purifiers

Using an air purifier can significantly reduce cat allergens in your home.Air purifiers with HEPA filters are highly effective at capturing pet dander, fel d1 protein, and other allergens from cat hair and skin flakes before they circulate through the air. HEPA filters are designed to remove 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns in size, including cat allergens which tend to be 5-10 microns large.

Place air purifiers in the main living areas where you spend time with your cat, such as the bedroom, living room, and kitchen. Run the air purifier continuously on the highest fan setting. Make sure to change the filters regularly according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, usually every 3-6 months.

Using air purifiers throughout the home can significantly reduce allergen levels and allergy symptoms when living with a cat.

Bathing Cats

Bathing cats weekly can significantly reduce the amount of allergen on cats. Allergens from cats are mostly found in their saliva, dander, and urine, which sticks to their fur when they groom themselves. When you bathe a cat regularly, it can wash away much of the allergens on their coat and skin

Studies have shown that washing a cat weekly can decrease the concentration of allergen by up to 84% (Source). This helps greatly reduce the allergens that may trigger reactions when people are around cats.

When bathing your cat, be sure to use a mild pet shampoo formulated for cats and kittens. Do not use human shampoo. Thoroughly rinse and dry your cat after bathing. Make the experience as calm and positive as possible for your cat.

While bathing may not completely eliminate allergens, it can significantly reduce them to help lessen allergy symptoms for people sensitive to cats.


Regular grooming of your cat can significantly reduce the amount of dander and allergens in your home. Daily brushing helps remove loose hairs and dander from your cat’s coat before they can become airborne allergens. Using a damp cloth or cat wipes can also help wipe away dander from the fur and skin surface [1].

In addition to brushing, regularly trimming your cat’s nails helps reduce the spread of dander as they walk around your home and scratch furniture [2]. Keeping nails short and smooth prevents them from snagging and spreading allergens. You can brush and trim your cat’s nails yourself or take them to a professional groomer for periodic grooming and dander removal treatments.

Overall, implementing a daily grooming routine is one of the easiest and most effective ways to manage allergens directly at the source. Removing dander and hair regularly before it sheds will greatly reduce allergy symptoms for you and your family.


New vaccines currently in development may help reduce allergic responses to cats in the future. Research is still in early clinical trials, but some vaccine candidates show promise for providing longer-lasting relief from cat allergies.

One experimental vaccine combines allergy shots with a monoclonal antibody treatment. In a recent trial by the National Institutes of Health, this combined approach provided more effective relief that continued a year after treatment (https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/experimental-cat-allergy-shots-provide-longer-lasting-relief).

Another vaccine candidate called Hypocat is slated to begin human clinical trials in the UK soon. This vaccine aims to reduce allergic responses by modifying immune system reactions to cats (https://www.euronews.com/next/2023/10/10/first-human-clinical-trial-of-new-cat-allergy-vaccine-to-be-launched-in-uk).

While these vaccines may not be widely available yet, the research shows promise for more effective allergy relief in the future.

Alternative Therapies

Some people find relief from cat allergies through alternative therapies like local honey and acupuncture. While the scientific evidence is limited, some people do report benefits from trying these approaches.

Consuming local, unpasteurized honey may help people build up tolerance to pollen from plants in their area. Since pollen allergies can trigger cat allergy symptoms, this may provide some relief for some people. However, the evidence is inconclusive and experts disagree on how effective this remedy is.

Acupuncture involves stimulating specific points on the body, usually by inserting very thin needles through the skin. Some preliminary studies show acupuncture may reduce inflammation and provide modest relief for allergies. More research is needed, but some people report acupuncture helps relieve their cat allergy symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes, and runny nose.

As with any alternative therapy, discuss options with your doctor first. While generally safe, they may interact with medications you’re taking or have other side effects. Work with a licensed practitioner if pursuing acupuncture or other alternative treatments.

See an Allergist

If you suspect you have a cat allergy, it’s important to see an allergist to get an accurate diagnosis and determine the specific allergen. An allergist will likely perform skin prick testing, where small amounts of suspected allergens are introduced to the skin via a needle prick to observe the reaction.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), skin prick testing is the most common diagnostic tool for identifying cat allergies. The test can determine whether you are allergic to cat dander, saliva, or urine specifically.

Once diagnosed with a cat allergy, your allergist may prescribe allergy shots or other forms of immunotherapy to help desensitize you over time. They may also recommend medications like antihistamines, decongestants, leukotriene inhibitors, and nasal steroids to control allergy symptoms.

Seeing an allergist provides the most targeted approach to diagnosing and treating cat allergies based on your unique sensitivities. They can provide ongoing monitoring and adjustments to your treatment plan as needed.

Consider Rehoming

For those with severe cat allergies that significantly impact quality of life, rehoming the cat may need to be considered. This can be an extremely difficult decision, so have an open discussion with your family and your veterinarian to weigh the pros and cons of keeping vs. rehoming your cat.

Factors to consider are the severity of your allergic reactions, what medications and changes in your home have been tried, your emotional bond with your cat, and the stress on both you and the cat from living together. Work to find the best solution for you and your cat.

If rehoming is chosen, take time finding a responsible new home that will provide excellent ongoing care. Shelters or cat rescues can help with this process. Explain your cat’s health history and needs to help ensure a smooth transition. Though hard, rehoming may be better for both you and your cat long-term in severe allergy cases. Discuss options thoroughly with your vet.


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