How to Help Visitors Who Are Allergic to Cats

Keep irritants like fur and dander to a minimum

You can bet this tabby cat's dander is on this armchair
You can bet this tabby cat's dander is on this armchair. Roy Morsch/ Corbis/ Getty Images

There are a lot of cat owners out there who love their animals dearly but can't invite important people in their lives to share the fun of being with a beloved feline because of cat allergies. Are you destined to get together with your allergic friends and family only away from your house? Or are there proven ways to keep cat irritants under control so that those who are allergic are not sneezing five minutes into a visit?

This is a sensitive problem for many cat lovers. It would be a great if everyone could share equally in your love for cats, but the reality is that cats carry a common allergen for many people. Here are some ways to ready your home for visits by allergy sufferers. In fact, you should incorporate them into your normal routine if at all possible. You never know when your allergic pastor might show up.

Ways to Mitigate Cat Allergens

  • Move cats out of the way first.
    It would be impractical to try to get rid of cat allergens while a group of cats follows you around, freely dispersing more allergens. Lock them in a bedroom for the duration. Make sure their litter box, food, water, and scratching post are all in there, too. They'll be more comfortable out of your way.
  • Vacuum thoroughly.
    The majority of cat allergies are caused by a small stable glycoprotein called Fel d1 contained in cat saliva. The allergen transforms into microscopic flakes in their fur when they groom. These flakes (dander) seem to have a magnetic attraction to soft surfaces, and cats leave dander around wherever they nest. The good news is that dander, along with loose hairs can readily be cleaned up by vacuuming. So you should vacuum carpeting and throw rugs. Use a hand-held vacuum to clean fabric furniture, curtains, and drapes.
  • Move coats, sweaters.
    If you utilize a hall tree, temporarily move your coats, jackets, and sweaters to another room.
  • Dust wood furniture.
    Use a magnetic cloth duster rather than a feather duster, which might just disperse the dander into the air.
  • Clean floors with damp mop
    If your linoleum or tile floors are clean, a last-minute damp mop can pick up any invisible dander. A string mop might be good for heavy-duty cleaning, but a Swiffer mop or something equivalent is useful for touch-up mopping.
  • Wipe down solid surfaces.
    Although dander doesn't stick to hard surfaces as much as it embeds itself into softer ones, a certain amount will land on kitchen counters, tables, and other surfaces. A quick wipe down in the kitchen with a damp sponge, along with a spray and wipe for wood surfaces will not only leave your home with less dander, but it will smell good, too.
  • Turn on air filters.
    One or more Hepa air filters will help remove dander floating in the air. Portable air filters can be strategically placed where your allergic visitors sit. For a more permanent solution, you can install a whole-house Hepa air filter. Another, less expensive project is to replace your furnace / AC filter with specially designed ones that remove dander, smoke, and other impurities from the air.
  • Have your heater / AC ducts professionally cleaned.
    This is a relatively expensive project, but done annually, it will help keep your home free of not only dander, but dust, dirt, and mold, which can be very dangerous when inhaled. Considering the overall benefits, you might seriously consider it, even if your allergic visitors don't come around all that often.

Suggested Allergy-Relief Products 

  • Dyson Animal Vacuum Cleaner
    Dyson Animal comes in several iterations now. Dyson DC 14 Animal Vacuum Cleaner, and the DC17 is even more powerful now, plus it has a Hepa filter.
  • Swiffer Starter Kit 
    The Swiffer Mop/Broom kit comes with a handle and both disposable wet and dry cleaning cloths. In case you've heard those old rumors about Swiffer being unsafe for pets, please reconsider.  
  • Hepa Air Filters
    These come in all manner of shapes and sizes, and in a wide range of prices. 

Pat yourself on the back when you finish these tasks. Then take a shower, wrap yourself up in a comfortable robe, and spend some quality time with your cats before your allergy sufferer's hopefully uneventful visit.