Holidays, guests and cat allergies

For their owners, cats are a source of love, joy and affection. But for some guests, they can mean watery eyes, sneezing, and itching. To get ready for the holiday season, here are some tips to ensure a more pleasant stay for your friends and family with cat allergies.

Understanding cat allergies

Contrary to popular belief, cat allergies are not caused by their fur, but rather by certain proteins found in their salvia, urine and dead skin cells (or dander). The immune system of people with allergies identifies this protein as a dangerous threat to neutralize. The result? Symptoms such as coughing, redness, itching, irritated eyes, a runny nose and sneezing. The type of gifts your guests would surely rather go without!  

Clean thoroughly before the holiday season

A few days before the arrival of your guests, do a deep clean worthy of a spring cleaning. Dust the furniture and vacuum the floors, couches and cushions. To prevent allergen particles from once again circulating, use a vacuum with an HEPA filter and a heavy duty bag. Wash all the surfaces with warm soapy water and toss the sheets, throws and other fabrics in the washing machine. Put away rugs and get the carpets professionally cleaned.

“Bath time” for cats

To prevent your cat from once again spreading its saliva and dander everywhere you have cleaned, plan a full service grooming session for your pet. Brush your cat with a grooming brush to remove excess fur.  If your pet has been used to taking baths from an early age, that’s great. If not, use a cat dander remover: simply moisten a cloth with the solution and rub your pet’s coat to remove most of the allergens, without wetting your cat. And while you’re at it, why not finish up with a nail trim?

Install air purifiers

Air purifiers trap airborne allergens. Choose units with a fine particle or HEPA filter, preferably certified Asthma and allergy friendlyTM by Asthma Canada. Portable models can easily be placed in main rooms and guest bedrooms a few days before the festivities.

Cat allergy medication

Even if you spend hours scrubbing, sweeping and cleaning your house from top to bottom, it is impossible to eliminate 100% of allergens. They can remain present up to several months after a pet is gone! Encourage your guests to take over-the-counter allergy medication before they arrive, and make sure you have some on hand just in case. Since holiday celebrations are often synonymous with drinking, be vigilant and check whether there are any contraindications with the chosen product.