With the holiday season approaching, you may be making plans to entertain friends and family—either for the occasional dinner party or possibly for an overnight visit. And with approximately 2% of the US population suffering from cat allergies (yeah, I thought that would be a higher percentage too), there’s a pretty good chance that someone on your guest list may be allergic to cats.
Of course you want your house guests to be as comfortable as possible during their stay, but you may be wondering if there’s anything you can do (short of pitching a tent for them in the back yard) to ease their symptoms. Thankfully there is. Here are some ways you can cut down on the sniffles and ease any concerns they may have about staying with you.
1. Clean Your House
Even if you usually keep a clean house, you’ll want to take a few extra steps to prepare for guests who are allergic to cats. You’ll need to go beyond simply removing cat hair from household surfaces since the culprit in cat allergies isn’t really Fluffy’s fur. The real allergen is a protein that is found in your kitty’s saliva, urine, and dander. This protein continues to lurk in your home even after cat hair has been thoroughly cleaned. (For more information on what causes cat allergies and how to continue to live your kitty even if you are allergic, read this article, Cat Allergies: Why Are So Many People Allergic?)
Start by washing all of your guest bedding in hot water to get rid of any dander. Area rugs can harbor allergens, so either clean them well or consider removing them temporarily. Mop wood floors, and schedule a professional cleaning for wall to wall carpeting a few days before your guests arrive.
Avoid the temptation to do a last minute flurry of dusting and vacuuming. This will only stir up dander in the air and may actually worsen your guests’ symptoms. When you do vacuum, use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to trap allergens instead of blowing them around in the air.
2. Filter the Air
Use air filters with HEPA filters in guest bedrooms and common areas. Begin running them at least a couple of days before your visitors come.
If the season will allow it, you may also want to let some fresh air in your home. Open up your windows to increase ventilation and decrease cat allergens.
3. “Bathe” Your Kitty
If you’re lucky enough to have a rare cat that will tolerate bathing, use a mild, vet-approved shampoo and give him a good bath to get ready for your company. If though, like most felines, your cat is more likely to hop in your car and drive himself to his next vet appointment than to submit to being washed, you still have options.
Cleansing wipes made especially for cats will cut down on the dander on kitty’s fur and will probably be much less stressful for him (and less painful for you) than a traditional tub bath.
4. Stay on Top of the Litter Box
Since allergens are found in your cat’s urine, keeping the litter box clean will remove one allergic trigger. Using a low-dust litter will also help to prevent allergic reactions.
5. Create a “Cat Free” Zone
If possible, consider designating a room in your house (like the one where your guests will be sleeping) as a cat-free zone. Even if you don’t want to make this a permanent arrangement, keeping fluffy out of a clean, aired out guest room for a period of time before your guests visit will significantly cut down on the sneeze factor.
6. Keep Allergy Medicine on Hand
No amount of cleaning will completely remove all of the lingering dander and allergens from your home. With that in mind, keep some over-the-counter allergy medication ready to offer in case you notice your guests beginning to get a little sniffly.
You can still be the purr-fect host, even if your guests are allergic to your cat. Just plan ahead, and enjoy some fun times with your family and friends! You and your guests can breathe easy, knowing you’ve done all you can to make their stay allergy free.
Guest post by Kristen Levine Pet Living, the place for stories, science & advice for living happier and healthier with pets.