How Can We Avoid Cat Allergies When Visiting Friends With Cats?

Remain allergy-free while visiting friends with cats.
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It's a tough choice: Do you avoid visiting friends who own that kitty you're allergic to or endure the inevitable sneezing, coughing, congestion and itchy eyes? No need to stay home. There are ways to avoid allergies while visiting your cat lover pal and not limit your social life.

Remove the Culprit

Before you arrive, make sure the cat will be kept out of those areas you'll be spending time in. Don't assume your buddy will remember how sick you became the last time you were around his kitty -- he needs to be reminded and take appropriate steps to remove the culprit from the scene. Apologize for any inconvenience, but explain you'd prefer not to become sick and be forced to cut the visit short. If you'll be sleeping at the house, keep the bedroom door shut so the cat stays out of that room. Check that the sheets and blankets are freshly washed.

Convince Your Friend to Clean House

It's a lot to ask, but if your friend thoroughly cleans his house before your arrival, it will help prevent your allergies. Help him understand that by eliminating cat fur and dander from the premises, you'll be able to remain in good health during your time together. He should thoroughly vacuum all the furniture, carpets, walls and curtains, and wet mop all floors. The vacuum cleaner should have a HEPA filter because other machines can actually increase the amount of dander in the air, advises Dr. David Resnick of New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Hands Off

Why does your friend's kitty love you so much? The moment you step through the front door, she shows affection by rubbing against your legs and jumping into your lap when you sit down. As tempting as it may be, never pet, touch, hug or kiss the adorable feline. Even a small amount of contact can cause your allergies to flare-up. If you're unable to resist petting the cat, excuse yourself and immediately wash your hands.


Medication can save the day by reducing congestion, sneezing, itchy eyes and other distressing allergic symptoms. Many antihistamines and decongestants are available over-the-counter. For stronger relief, ask an allergy specialist for a prescription drug, such as a steroid nasal spray. For best results, begin taking the medication a few days before arriving at your friend's house. Once you're around the cat and already experiencing allergic symptoms, they may not be as effective.

Post-Visit Precautions

After you arrive home, thoroughly wash your hands and face. Remove your clothes and place them in a sealed bag until they can be laundered. Take a shower and wash your hair. If you're feeling allergic symptoms, check the directions on your antihistamine or decongestant medication to see if it's permissible to take more.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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