Cat dander (tiny flakes of dead skin) is constantly being shed by your cat. Dander is invisible to the human eye because it is so tiny-approximately 2.5 microns, with a micron being defined as 1 millionth of a meter. Cat dander is light-weight so it travels easily and once airborne becomes a trigger for those with dander related allergy and asthma. What a choice to have to make—keeping your cat or being able to breathe! But whether you are allergic or not, here are 5 ways to reduce cat dander so you and your cat can co-exist and live happily ever after.
1. Select a Short-Haired Cat If you have not already adopted a cat, choose a short-haired cat as they tend to produce less dander. Burmese, American Shorthair, British Shorthair, and the Shorthair American Curl are all breeds with short hair. Even if you are already in love with a long-haired cat, keep the shorthair breeds in mind when adding to the family. Shorthaired cats should be bathed only once every six weeks to keep their skin from becoming too dry.
2. Groom Regularly Give your cat a bath once a week with a shampoo that your veterinarian approves. Baths not only reduce dander, but remove excess hair. Brushing you cat outside daily will also improve the overall health of the skin, remove lose hair, and reduce dander. If you are sensitive to cat hair and dander, when brushing your cat try using a high efficiency particle arresting mask that can be bought from most hardware stores; and if it helps, use the mask when bathing your cat as well. If grooming your cat causes you too much discomfort, think about asking a friend to do it in exchange for a favor from you; pay a high school or college student to help, or even an assistant who works at your veterinarian’s office who might want to make extra money. Before creating a grooming schedule, check with your veterinarian to make sure it is best for your particular cat.
3. Feed a Nutritious Diet Feeding your cat a healthy diet specific to his needs as determined by your veterinarian will enhance your cat’s skin, and coat, and allow your cat to more successfully fend off disease. In general, since cats are carnivores, they need a meat-based diet to stay healthy. Healthy skin and coat go a long way towards reducing cat dander and shedding.
4. Reduce Fabric-Covered Surfaces This piece of advice can be used as an excuse to redecorate or it doesn’t have to be. Overstuffed sofas and chairs, draperies, and carpet are all havens for cat dander. And once there, the dander is tricky to remove. As you replace furnishings in your home, think about replacing carpet with hardwood floors, drapes with shutters, shades or blinds, and overstuffed furniture with leather, wood, or rattan. These are all surfaces that are easier to wipe down, and you are more likely to be able to remove more of the cat dander.
5. Use a HEPA Air Purifier A high efficiency particle arresting or HEPA air purifier is designed to remove airborne particles as small as .3 microns. Most cat dander is approximately 2.5 microns in size so this type of purifier will easily remove cat dander and hair. The advantage of a well built HEPA purifier is that it is designed to operate 24 hours and will constantly filter the air of the dander that your cat is constantly producing.
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