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Cat Allergy Doesn't Have to Mean Giving Up Kitty
Date:4/23/2010

mut of allergy symptoms such as a stuffy nose and red, itchy eyes. Asthmatics are at risk for experiencing more severe reactions, including difficulty breathing.

"We feel most strongly about not living with a cat if you have asthma that's hard to control because that can lead to life-threatening situations," said Wood.

For individuals who are not highly sensitive, living with a feline requires taking some simple steps to reduce allergens in the home and on the cat.

Veterinarian Vicki Thayer, president-elect of the Winn Feline Foundation, a nonprofit that supports studies to improve cat health, recommends owners regularly bathe their pets with a mild shampoo or wipe them down with a damp wash cloth.

Weekly brushings done outside by a non-allergic person are a good idea, too. A spray-on formula available through veterinarians and pet retailers may also help to reduce the amount of dander found on coats.

Another option, with reportedly mixed results, Thayer said, is adding tiny amounts of acepromazine, a prescribed tranquilizer, to a pet's food or water. The diluted mixture is thought by some veterinarians to reduce or remove the protein that causes cat allergies.

Owners, depending on their symptoms, may also get relief from prescription nasal sprays, eye drops or pills. Wood said shots given for cat allergies provide a little bit more comfort but several studies have shown they're not hugely effective.

Inside the home, keep cats out of the bedroom and put allergy-proof covers on the mattress and pillows. Wash bedding materials in hot water, wash your hands after contact, and limit the amount of wall-to-wall carpeting, especially in the bedroom. "Even if you keep the cat out of the bedroom, eventually the carpet gets loaded with the allergen just from what's carried around on your feet," said Wood.

Frequent steam cleaning helps remove allergens hiding in carpets.

Allergy experts a
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