General Cat Care and Health

How I Overcame My Fear of the Veterinarian for National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day

I adore my cats and would go to the ends of the earth and back for them. That said, I have a confession. Despite knowing how important it is to bring a cat to the veterinarian for routine check-ups, there was a time I stopped bringing mine altogether. It’s not that I didn’t want to bring them, it’s that I literally wasn’t capable due to extreme mental anxieties that were crippling me with fear. With today being National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day, I felt the need to share my personal story and how I overcame my anxieties so I could once again bring my cats to the vet on a regular basis. Read more

Peekaboo – I See Mew and Other Hide and Seek Cat Behaviors

Cat under the curtain? What cat?

Peekaboo – that simple form of play with an infant where someone hides their face, then pops back into view, causing the infant amusement – is a fundamental, universal concept in an infant’s inability to understand object permanence. Swiss clinical psychologist, Jean Piaget, known for his pioneering work in child development conducted experiments with infants, concluding object performance was typically achieved at eight to nine months of age. I bring this up because cats also have a peekaboo mindset and Jazmine reminded me of this the other day when she was hiding behind a sheer curtain, convinced I couldn’t see her. Read more

Tips to Manage 4th of July Stress With Your Cat

We have a lot of people in our neighborhood who let off noisy fireworks – Zoey feels safest under a blanket during all the commotion.

4th of July is a time of celebration – America’s birthday, our freedoms acknowledged and appreciated, cookouts with friends and family, time off from work, great shopping deals and more. But for our cats who are reactive to the slightest of change in their environment, a day and night like the 4th of July – something out of their typical norm can be especially stressful, traumatic and dangerous to them. We can’t stop fireworks and celebrating from happening, but with some planning and basic understanding of cat behavior, we can make the holiday more manageable for them. Read more

Cat That Doesn’t Like to Be Hugged? He or She Might Be More Affectionate Than You Think

Zoey is actually a very sweet and loving cat…but only if it’s on her terms! No surprise hugging, thank you very much!

June 4th was National Hug Your Cat Day and while it’s a day I rejoice in theory, after all, who doesn’t want to smother their precious kitty with hugs and kisses in a loving embrace, let’s be honest – not all cats like to be hugged. I’ve got seven cats – each with a completely different personality – so it’s pretty easy to substantiate my claim. They run the full gamut – from Peanut who I jokingly refer to as my Robert Palmer cat – she’s addicted to love – to my Zoey who becomes so horrified at the prospect of a hug, if I dare attempt one, she’ll recoil her body like a twisted pretzel and push away from me with such force, you’d think I was holding her down to immerse her in a tub of hot water (but mind you, on her terms, she’s the same cat who sticks to me like glue when I settle on the couch at night to watch TV). Read more

Living in Comfort with Cats – 10 Tips to Managing Cat Allergies

Editor’s Note: This article was previously published. However, with it being allergy season, coupled with the fact so many cats are not adopted, or are brought to shelters because of cat allergies, it seemed prudent to share it again.

By trying different tips and techniques, there are ways to manage cat allergies and peacefully co-exist with a cat.

From this picture, you’d never know I was once allergic to cats.

Being immersed in the world of cat blogging and advocacy, I’ve heard just about every excuse there is from those that don’t have a cat but might want one, as to why they can’t. Having a dog ranks right up there, but the most common reason is because of cat allergies. As a happy pet parent to seven cats, along with the fact millions of cats are living in shelters in need of a good home, I’d like to let you in on a couple secrets so you can adopt that adorable ball of fluff you’ve always wanted (or keep the sniffles to a minimum with the cat you already have)!

First off, for most of my life, I’ve lived in a home with both cats and dogs. At one point I had 5 dogs and 4 cats living together, so I can assure you, unless the circumstances are extreme, cats and dogs are able to get along if you’re willing to put the time and effort into making it work. My other secret – I’m allergic to cats. Or, I should say, I was allergic to cats. I made some lifestyle changes years ago and have been allergy-free ever since. The good news, with some perseverance and preventative measures, most people that are allergic to cats can manage their symptoms too.

Contrary to popular belief, cat hair itself is not allergenic. Cat allergies are caused by the Fel d 1 protein emanating from sebum found in the sebaceous glands of cats. The protein attaches itself to dried skin (dander) which flakes off and floats through the air when cats wash themselves. An allergy occurs when the body over-reacts to this substance  and produces excessive amounts of histamine which leads to the irritating symptoms associated with cat-allergies – itchy eyes, sneezing, skin rash, etc.

There are many causes of allergy attacks - molds, plants, and pollens can trigger an attack

Your cat might not always be the cause of your allergies – often it can be plant pollen or other substances in the air that are carried into your home that can trigger an allergy attack.

Ironically, it might not always be the cat that is the root cause of the allergy. Outside cats (and humans) can bring pollen, mold, and other allergens into the house, or there may be airborne allergens in the house from dust mites, carpet dust, mold spores, or pollen and chemicals in the environment that trigger allergies. Rather than assume it’s the cat, check the cat is actually the source of the allergen by getting a skin test done by an allergist. Some sufferers are successfully treated for the symptoms with allergy shots or over the counter antihistamine tablets, nasal sprays or homeopathic remedies.

If a shot or medication doesn’t do the trick, here are some other tips:

1. Remove dander from the air with strategically placed ionizers and HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) purifying systems. These units come in a variety of sizes, prices, and styles to suit your needs, budget, and home square footage.

2. Keep your cat out of any bedroom where the person is allergic and do not let them sleep on the bed. Provide other comfortable sleeping areas for him to nap and if you do allow him to sleep on the bed (for some cat lovers, it’s impossible to say no), wash all bedding in 140-degree hot water at least twice monthly. This will eliminate both dust mites and cat allergens and there are products available, such as DeMite, that can be used with the laundry detergent to kill harmful particles.

3. Keep towels and throw blankets on couches and furniture where your cat might nap so you can wash the linens frequently, and change air conditioning filters on a regular basis, as they also catch a large amount of cat hair. You can also use an anti-allergen spray to deactivate allergens. Allersearch ADS, made from plant-based, non-toxic substances, can safely be sprayed throughout the house to take the sting out of household dust by rendering allergens harmless.

Washing cat bedding frequently can help to reduce dander and cat allergies in a home. Consider using DeMite washing solution in the laundry.

To keep your cat from depositing dander on your furniture, provide her with a comfortable throw blanket to nap on that can easily be washed.

4. Carpet is a magnet for allergens, so vacuum frequently with a high-grade HEPA vacuum. Use the hand tools to get into hard to reach spaces – cat allergen particles are very small and invasive so you have to do a thorough job. This includes furniture, throw rugs, drapery, walls, under furniture, and more.

5. Hardwood and tile floors, especially in corners where cat hair tends to drift should be swept frequently. If you find your allergies are being triggered while vacuuming or sweeping, wear a protective mask to cover your nose while doing these tasks. Damp mopping these surfaces (including walls) also helps to keep dander under control. Dust frequently and use liberal amounts of spray furniture polish, as this dramatically limits allergen particles from becoming airborne.

Replacing carpeting with tile floors can dramatically reduce chances of getting cat allergies

My house was once covered in wall-to-wall carpeting. After removing it and replacing it with tiles, any allergy symptoms I had due to my cats were substantially reduced.

6. For extra cleaning, use a vapor steam cleaner. They’re an effective method to provide a chemical-free way of cleaning and killing dust mites, bacteria, mold spores, and cat allergens.

7. Wash your hands after petting your cat and avoid rubbing your eyes. Rubbing your eyes can result in itchy eyes for hours and a strong anti-bacterial soap should be used. You should also avoid excessive hugging and snugging with your cat.

8. Clean your cat. Most cats would prefer NOT to be bathed and its effectiveness isn’t entirely conclusive. As an alternative, try Allerpet, a veterinary recommended, easy to use, non-toxic liquid you apply directly to your cat’s coat to reduce allergens.

9. Use a de-shedding tool like the FURminator to regularly brush and groom your cat. This highly effective tool gets deep into the undercoat of the cat’s fur and significantly reduces shedding. Groom in a well-ventilated area so the dander dissipates.

The FURminator de-shedding grooming tool helps to reduce cat dander in the air

Not only do my cats love to be groomed with the FURminator de-shedding tool, but by doing it, it greatly reduces the amount of dander in the house.

10. Dust from cleaning litter boxes can trigger allergy attacks. Either find someone who is not allergic to do the cleaning, or use a protective nose mask to reduce the chances of allergens entering your body.

One, some, or all of the above  methods might be needed to keep your allergies under control. But with time, effort, and experimenting, chances are that you and your cat can co-exist  peacefully together in your home and you can enjoy a long and happy relationship with your cat. Or, now that you know some tips to making your house allergen-free, you can take the plunge and adopt that cat you always wanted, but didn’t think you could have…

hearts

ALL cats produce dander, though some cats produce less than others. No cat is allergen-free, not even hairless cats, although there are some studies that conclude Rex, Sphynx, and Siberian Cats are less likely to cause allergies than others. If you do decide to look into one of these breeds, please consider finding a breed specific rescue organization or contact Petfinder.com for adoptable cats in your area.