If you find yourself wheezing up a storm whenever you're near a cat's litter box, his urine could be the culprit. Cat allergies are generally triggered by the presence of Fel-D-1, a protein found in cat fur, sweat and saliva, as well as urine.
Allergens in Cat Urine
The protein in cat urine that triggers allergies is microscopic. As a result, people in close proximity to cat pee are able to inhale it into their noses or lungs. If your immune system is extremely sensitive, you may experience a response to these typically innocuous proteins.
Potential Signs of Cat Allergies
Possible indications of cat urine allergies in people include:
- Eye irritation
- Eye redness
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy nose
- Runny nose
- Face or chest rashes
- Breaking out into hives
These symptoms are signs of cat allergies in general, whether from dander, saliva or urine.
Protection From Cat Urine
Protect yourself from the potential dangers of the allergens found in cat urine by placing litter boxes in parts of your home that don't have any carpeting. Clean litter boxes no less than once daily. If your cat ever urine marks or has an accident, thoroughly clean up the mess without delay. Purchase cedar sawdust or pine litters, too. These woods are excellent for ammonia neutralization and soaking up fluid.
Cat Allergy Management
If you think that you're allergic to cats due to the symptoms you experience when you're around cat urine, visit an allergist for a skin-prick test. If you are allergic, your doctor may recommend management options such as allergy shots, oral antihistamines, bronchodilators, antihistamine eyedrops and steroid nasal sprays. She may decide which treatment is best for you by assessing your symptoms. If cat allergies keep making your nose run, for example, steroid nasal sprays may be optimal. Lifestyle changes can also often help reduce allergic symptoms to cats. Some examples of these include:
- Regular home vacuuming
- Bathing your cat regularly
- Investing in a HEPA cleaner for your residence
- Restricting your cat's access to your bedroom
- Washing your hands after touching your cat
Cat urine soiling can result in allergens that linger for years and years at a time. If a cat urinated on your furnishings, carpeting or flooring and the mess was never properly cleaned up, there could be minimal allergens remaining even if the animal no longer resides in the house.
- PetPlace: Help! I'm Allergic to My Cat
- Northwest Allergy and Asthma Center: Indoor and Outdoor Allergies
- Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: Pet Allergies
- Association on Aging in New York: The Effects of Breathing Cat Urine
- Allergic to Pets?; Shirlee Kalstone
- Home Comforts; Cheryl Mendelson
- PetCareRx: What is Cat Dander?
- American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology: Pet Allergies