Asthma and Allergy Management

For cats who have asthma, having a rescue inhaler on hand can provide immediate relief.

If your cat has environmental allergies, following the tips for human asthma/allergy sufferers for reducing allergens in your home will also provide relief.

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has some great tips for preventing or reducing allergies

Everyday Health has specific for which types of cleaning products to use or avoid. Additional tips for cleaning your home:

  • Vacuum your floors regularly. Brooms kick up more dust than they remove, so when cleaning for allergies you want to be certain you’re vacuuming instead of sweeping. You’ll do best to break out the vacuum cleaner — and any necessary attachments — at least twice a week so you can clean all your household floors and furniture. Additionally, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAI) recommends using a vacuum with a small-particle or HEPA filter. These filters are designed to trap tiny particles of pollen, dust, dander and so forth. Dry dust mops with microfiber cleaning heads can be used for picking up dust and hair from the floor without kicking it around into the air.
  • Dust at least once a week. Dust more often if you live in areas with a lot of dust (i.e., in a dry desert). One of the number one cleaning tips for allergy sufferers is to dust using a microfiber cloth. Other dusters are like brooms, in that they’ll just spread allergens around the house, which can trigger an allergy or asthma attack. However, microfiber is specially designed to grab tiny particles, meaning it will do a better job of removing dust overall.
  • Clean high to low to maximize your chance of removing all the dust and pollen from your home. Dust your furniture before you vacuum and any dust that escapes your duster and winds up on the floor is likely to be picked up by your vacuum.
  • Wash your bedding at least once a week. Your sheets may seem harmless, but they’re covered with human and pet hair, dander, pollen that crept in on your clothes, dust mites and a lot of other things you probably don’t want to think about. Wash your bed linens at least once a week using a gentle, fragrance-free detergent. In addition, vacuum your duvet or comforter at least two times a week and your mattress cover monthly.
  • Clean your curtains and blinds. Window treatments are natural dust collectors, so you’ll need to be mindful of them. Use an attachment to vacuum any curtains or drapes at least once a month. Alternatively, you can launder your window treatments if they’re washing machine-safe. If you have blinds, you should also clean those monthly with a microfiber cloth or a microfiber blind cleaner. (Tip: Investing in the latter can save you a lot of time and effort.)
  • Reduce bathroom moisture. It’s important to keep dampness under control when cleaning for allergies. Left unchecked, bathroom moisture can result in an increased number of mold spores floating around your home. Wipe down bathroom walls and floors with a microfiber cloth each time you shower, and leave doors open after you’ve left the room so that it can air out. You should also leave the shower curtain pulled back slightly so that the shower sees some air flow. And don’t forget to clean behind the toilet once a week to get rid of any hair or dust that has collected back there.
  • Reduce allergens where you can. Cleaning for allergies is a lot easier when you take some preventative steps. Here are several that can reduce the allergy triggers in your home.
    •  Remove your shoes at the door or in the mudroom. Ideally store your shoes on a washable floor mat or inside washable bins to further reduce the chance of allergens spreading through your home.
    • Keep washable floor mats inside all of your doors to catch any dust from your shoes when you step inside. Wash these regularly.
    • Change out of your “outside” clothes as soon as possible. As soon as you come home change into something clean that you haven’t worn outdoors. This way you won’t be spreading other allergens that may be attached to your clothes around the rest of your house.
    • Invest in a HEPA air filter. Air purifiers with built in, washable filters don’t clean the air as well as HEPA filters do.
    • Avoid air filters/purifiers that are “ionizing” because the process they go through for producing ions also produces ozone. Ozone is known to trigger allergies and asthma symptoms so you should not be creating more of it inside your home on purpose. If your air filters have a ionizer setting be certain that setting is off when you’re using it.
    • Avoid scented cleaners, candles and air fresheners. If you need a product for removing odors from your soft surfaces you can use something like Fabreze Free Nature, which is fragrance free.
    • Cut down on dust-collecting clutter. You don’t need to live a minimalist lifestyle, but reducing the amount of knickknacks, paper piles, and random stuff scattered throughout your home will also reduce the surface area for dust and pollen to cling to.
    • Water indoor plants with ice cubes to prevent lingering pools of water that lead to mold.
    • Don’t open your windows on days with high pollen alerts or breezy/windy days if your area is prone to having lots of dust.
    • Wash your hair before bed or cover it with a bonnet if you’ve been outside on days with high pollen or dust counts, particularly if your cat likes to sleep on your pillow or near your head.
  • Groom your cat regularly. Brush your cat daily to remove excess hair and dander. If possible, have your cat professionally groomed every 6-8 weeks to truly control shedding and keep their coat clean. While your cat is unlikely to be allergic to themselves, their coats can trap and carry dust and pollen which could trigger their allergies/asthma and make everything worse.
  • If your cat regularly goes outside (preferably in a totally protected catio) it’s a good idea to wipe them down daily with a damp cloth or water-based baby wipe to remove any excess dust or pollen they may have picked up outdoors.

In nearly every case, using entirely fragrance free cleaning products, laundry detergents, and personal hygiene products for yourself can help to prevent allergy attacks in your cat

Using a cat litter that is entirely fragrance free, unscented, and has zero dust is the best choice for a cat with asthma. Dust free is very hard to find in clumping clay litters, so aim for a 99% dust free variety. Check the return policy of the stores where you purchase litter and do not be afraid to return a package of litter if the package you purchased is too dusty. There is some natural variation in the amount of dust in these products, but you do not need to keep and use a dusty litter.