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Cat Allergies and Where I Live
November 13, 2007 9:07 AM   Subscribe

Do I need to find an apartment with hardwood floors to keep my cat from killing my allergic girlfriend?

My girlfriend is very allergic to cats. If she goes near a person with cats, normally that's enough to set her off. Her chest gets very congested, and she has to take allergy medication. However, she's had no reaction to my cat since I got him in June. The cat is locked in my room every night, and usually sleeps in my bed. I normally wash the sheets before she comes over, but the cat still sleeps in my bed with the two of us, and my lady friend has no reaction.

My house is pretty large (I live with several roommates). It has hardwood floors everywhere on the main floor, where my girlfriend and I stay 99% of the time.

I'm planning to move out on my own in February. Before looking for an apartment/house, I'd like to know if there's anything important I need to look for, like hardwood floors, to prevent my girlfriend from reacting to my cat.
posted by wukkuan to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have mild allergies to cats, have cats and live in a house with hardwoord floors. While hair does tend to be attracted to the carpet I don't think it makes a difference. You just don't notice the hair as much on hardwood floors. You should vacuum with a HEPA filter vacuum regularly. Also, make sure you keep your cats hair and skin healthy by feeding him/her high quality food, perhaps even vitamins if you are so inclined (I give some to my pets). From what I understand it is something in the cat's saliva that people are allergic to and different cat's seems to have more of this than others. My direct experience with cats is brushing them, vacuuming and certain cats can help with allergies, but it is a "hairy" thing really. Some people are just plain allergic and thats all there is to it, but I doubt hardwood floors versus carpets matter if you vacuum regularly.
posted by Carialle at 9:34 AM on November 13, 2007


I will disagree with Carialle-- I think flooring makes a huge difference. I am allergic, don't live with cats. I can go over to a friend's house with cats if the house is mostly hardwood floor; if not, I'm doomed to a reaction, unless the cat isn't allowed in whatever rooms I'll be in (and even then.)

Of course, this might be because the friends in question don't vacuum enough- but personally, I think keeping hardwood floors allergen-free is much easier.

Hardwood floors are easier for other allergens too, dust mites and such.

You might also check out which furniture you're planning on bringing with you; see if you can get a thorough cleaning for anything that might be cat-ified.

Of course don't forget the cat's happiness either; if your cat is indoor/outdoor, it'd be good to make sure the house/apt is well set up for that. (I've also found, unsuprisingly, that houses w/ cats who go outdoors are much less of a difficulty for my allergies).
posted by nat at 9:47 AM on November 13, 2007


I moved in with my girlfriend, now wife, and we got a cat, which worried me because I've always had pretty severe reactions. I did initially, but we got a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, and have kept the (carpeted) flat pretty spotless. Over about a month, I adjusted to our cat, to the point now where my allergic symptoms are massively reduced, and absent 99% of the time. Occassionally I'll get a cat hair in my eyes and they'll go a bit red, but on the whole, I'm acclimatised to it. I've also found I have a much higher tolerance for cats in other people's houses too.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:50 AM on November 13, 2007


Some cats do, some cats don't. It's a complicated, poorly understood and personal thing. If you have a cat that she is NOT allergic to, be happy.

HEPA, hardwood and brushing are all good ideas that will help to varying degrees.

Hardwood's also just plain nicer. Get it anyway. :)
posted by rokusan at 9:52 AM on November 13, 2007


i agree--the flooring really does make a difference.
posted by thinkingwoman at 9:52 AM on November 13, 2007


Allergic to cats, live with four of them (I know, I know). I take medication and get allergy shots (my worst allergy is dust, not cats) and we ripped out every shred of carpeting in the house. It made a huge difference.

If she's not reacting to him while she's sleeping in the same bed, you might just have lucked out and she's not going to react to him at all.
posted by cooker girl at 10:06 AM on November 13, 2007


Wipe your cat down with a damp warm face cloth each day, to keep the dander oil on its fur under control. It's the dander that causes the allergic reaction. My mom is severely allergic, but the face cloth trick keeps her happily knee deep in house cats & free from taking allergy meds.
posted by zarah at 10:23 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Do you know specifically what your girlfriend is allegic to - as in has she had allergy tests? Cats in general, and houses with cats, used to set me off. After a test (they scratch you with essence de chat, le mite dust and other things then check the reaction levels) I was able to determine I was not so much allegic to cats as I was to the mites they carried - mostly grass mites from outdoors they picked up on their travels, oddly enough. It's hard to say exactly what the best plan is without that knowledge.
posted by Sparx at 10:35 AM on November 13, 2007


He is an indoor-only cat (I was required to sign an agreement saying he would remain indoors before I could get him from this shelter), so he wouldn't have any of these grass mites Sparx speaks of.

She actually claims indoor cats seem to be much less of a problem, but her sister's cats still mess with her and they are indoor-only as well.

I also feed him high grade cat food.
posted by wukkuan at 10:57 AM on November 13, 2007


Nthing that flooring makes a huge difference. Find a place with hardwoods. Get a dust mop and use it every couple of days, minimum. Vacuum AND mop the hardwoods weekly.
posted by desuetude at 11:17 AM on November 13, 2007


As an aside, the mite situation varies from country to country. I am now in a country with about a quarter of the possible species of mites my previous country had and I have had no allergic reactions to anything (and man does that feel good!). I mentioned it to indicate not grass mites specifically, but that the allergen is not always as simple as 'cats', and if you want to avoid them, it helps to know what you're avoiding.
posted by Sparx at 11:26 AM on November 13, 2007


My vet recommended this shampoo to keep my cat's dander down. It's gentle enough to use once a week. Also, yes, hardwood floors are the way to go. Swiffer them regularly. It also might be a good idea to keep the cat out of the bedroom and shower before you get in bed.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 1:27 PM on November 13, 2007


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