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

If you are a cat owner who loves your pet animal dearly but cannot invite important people in your life to come to your home or meet your beloved feline because of cat allergies, then you are not alone. You may find that you often have to get together with your allergic friends away from your house. This is a sensitive problem for many cat lovers. It would be great if everyone could share equally in your love for cats, but the reality is that cats carry a common allergen for many people.

Learn more about some proven ways to keep cat irritants under control so that those who are allergic are not sneezing every five minutes if they do visit.

Ways to Mitigate Cat Allergens

Here are some ways to ready your home for visits by allergy sufferers. In fact, you should incorporate them into your normal routine if possible. You never know when an allergic VIP might show up.

  • Move cats out of the rooms for entertaining: 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 of the visit. Make sure their litter box, food, water, and scratching post are all in there, too. Your guests may be more at ease with the cat not in view. Out of sight, out of mind.
  • Vacuum thoroughly: The majority of cat allergies are caused by a small stable glycoprotein called Fel D1 found in cat saliva. The allergen transforms into microscopic flakes in their fur when they groom. These flakes or dander seem to have a magnetic attraction to soft surfaces. Cats leave dander around wherever they curl up. 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 and sweaters: If you utilize a hall tree, temporarily move your coats, jackets, and sweaters to another room. These tend to collect dander floating in the air.
  • Dust wood furniture: Use a magnetic cloth duster rather than a feather duster. A feather duster might just disperse the dander into the air versus a magnetic duster that collects the dander.
  • Mop the floor: Your linoleum or tile floors may have been recently cleaned and appear clean, but 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 does not 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 with a damp sponge, along with a spray and wipe for wood surfaces will help remove dander.
  • Use an air filter: One or more HEPA air filters will help remove dander floating in the air. HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air (or absorbers), which is a fancy way of saying that these filters capture up to 99 percent of the fine particles 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 and air conditioner filter with specially designed ones that remove dander, smoke, and other impurities from the air.
  • Have your air ducts professionally cleaned: If your home has centralized air and heating, then the ducts end up being a repository for dust and dander. Professionally cleaning the ducts 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 for yourself—allergic visitors or not.

Suggested Allergy Relief Products 

If you are trying to make your house allergy-friendly without spending much money, make sure to wet dust. Dampen your dust cloth with a little water. Dry dusting is not helpful, it just kicks the dander back up into the air, giving it the opportunity to settle elsewhere. There are many sprays and solutions used for eradicating dust mites that may also be helpful since pet dander collects within the dust and these products have active ingredients like benzyl benzoate or tannic acid that can be effective in breaking down dust and its contents. Other allergy-controlling products for the home include:

  • Dyson Animal vacuum cleaner: Dyson Animal is a vacuum designed for homes with pets and comes in several iterations. Dyson continuously upgrades its Animal product line, making its vacuums more powerful and with HEPA filters built in.
  • Swiffer starter kit: The Swiffer mop/broom kit comes with a handle and both disposable wet and dry cleaning cloths. Rumors circulated about the Swiffer Wet Jet product as being unsafe for pets. This myth has been debunked by the ASPCA, this product is considered safe around pets.
  • HEPA air filters: These filters come in all shapes and sizes and in a wide range of prices.