In my heart, I've always been a cat lady—the kind who seeks out kitties at every party and follows more cats than people on Instagram. But I've also had cat allergies all my life, sometimes so severe I would tear up and start sneezing as soon as I entered a house with a cat. I never thought I'd get one of my own.
As it turns out, I didn't get one. I got EIGHT.
When we moved from the city to a farm five years ago, we started finding feral kittens in our garage, barn, and even abandoned at the end of our long driveway. That’s how we found ourselves, in the span of just a couple years, going from zero cats to, at one point, living with a dozen of them.
Some of our rescues have found new, loving homes, so we’re now at eight cats here on the farm in Northern Minnesota. My allergies can get pretty overwhelming as a result. Here’s how I cope with my cat allergies in a house full of kitties—and how you can, too.
1. Micellar Water
I've never been a fan of taking allergy medication. Even at low doses, it makes me feel off-kilter. Instead, I've experimented with non-medical allergy strategies. One of the best I've found is micellar water, an affordable common drugstore product. This is a mild, non-drying facial cleansing water that I squirt on a couple of cotton squares and use to wipe my face with a few times a day. Unlike regular water, micellar water is designed to pick up dirt, makeup and other junk from the face, and I’ve found it’s better at removing allergens, too. Bonus: My skin looks amazing!
2. Regular Cleaning
My other must-haves are a really good vacuum and mop, ideally combined into one superproduct. Having a vacuum is helpful, but it's the mop that makes the biggest difference because it can clean up the kitty dander that's such a cat allergy trigger. I mop every couple of days, especially in my bedroom, making sure to clean under the bed where cat-hair tumbleweeds start to form. The Bissell Hair Eraser Lift-Off Upright Vacuum & Pet Tools works great on the hardwood floors we have throughout our farm house.
3. A Cat-Free Room
Our third tactic for cat allergies is the "no cats allowed" room. We keep the door closed at all times, and even have separate bedding and towels stored in that room, along with a bed that has never had a kitty snuggled into it. When I have a cold or my allergies are particularly troublesome, it helps me to sleep in this room for a couple days as a reset. I know I’m lucky—not everyone has the luxury of an extra room in their home. Cleaning regularly and removing cat-friendly features like places to perch or lie around can simulate a cat-free space in any part of your home.
4. Food That Fights Allergens
I recently heard that Purina has developed LiveClear, a line of cat food that's designed to reduce allergens in cat hair and dander. It contains an egg protein that counteracts a common allergen found in cats’ salvia and shed during grooming. I’m excited to try it out on my own clowder of cats. Get ready for new tasty food options, farm kitties!
I know that having fewer cats—or, really, none at all—would mean I wouldn't have to deal with allergy symptoms. But I'm way too in love with those sweet kitty faces to go back now. Thankfully, with my three-point strategy and a new cat food to try, I don’t have to.