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  • Behavior Problems? We have answers.

    Behavior Problems? We have answers.

    Learn about behavior from our team of experts. Whether you have cats, dogs, reptiles, horses or birds, we can help you learn to live with them. Read More
  • All About Horses

    All About Horses

    Learn about equine science, whether you're an aspiring rider or a long-time owner, we have the latest in products, breeds, and more. Read More
  • Traveling with Pets

    Traveling with Pets

    Be sure to check this section out before you hit the road with your pet! We've got a look at pet-friendly hotels, the guidelines of air, train, bus and auto travel, and much more. Read More
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    All About Critters

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    All About Reptiles

    A look at our cold-blooded friends and discovering how to care for these fun loving creatures! Read More
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  • Ghost Cats and Haunted Houses

    The world is filled with ghost stories, but the Fairport Harbor Lighthouse still shines bright in the realm of ghost cats and haunted spirits.

    We've compiled a few of our most favorite feline ghost stories to delight you. Don't worry - they aren't too scary...

    Take a look inside this guide filled with spooky tales of animal hauntings and ghost stories about cats that have more than nine lives.

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  • Halloween Yards You Won't Want to Miss

    I've never been a fan of Halloween. To me, it symbolizes a time of year when I have to stress out over ways to Keep Pets Calm as the doorbell rings for hours on end, and worry incessantly about the small colony of feral cats I feed every day.

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  • Feeding Individual Diets in Multi-Cat Households

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  • PETS Act of 2006: Understanding your pets rights in a disaster

    understanding the pets act of2006 The PETS Act of 2006 was passed to help evacuating owners and pets together. It's a good start - helping to ensure that people can take their pets along with them during evacuation due to a disaster. But, its effectiveness relies largely on your state and their wilingness to make accommodations for pets. It's just not as inclusive as we'd like to see it be. 

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    This means, FEMA or the State may choose to build extra pet-friendly shelters. It also requires them to include pets in emergency planning, for instance in federal evacuation on buses, pets should now be allowed. There are a few things they should do if they choose, and if they do, they can apply for DHS funds. If they don't, no funding.  

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Dogs that can't Swim and Some that just aren't very good at it

Summer is officially here in the desert and we have reached temperatures in excess of 100 degrees, so you know Read More

Disaster preparedness with pets

September is National Animal Preparedness Month. Some natural disasters require that you evacuate your entire family, pets included. Wildfires, floods, Read More

Keeping Aquariums Alive During Summer Blackouts

Summer is on the way, and that means possible brown outs (power shortages) and even blackouts (power outages) for most Read More

Keeping Pets Safe from Coyotes

No matter where you live, you’ve likely had to deal with wildlife. Whether its mountain lions and coyotes, or squirrels Read More

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There is a lot of interest in chicken keeping these days. With the cost of food skyrocketing, chickens can be Read More

TrackR Uses Crowd GPS To Locate Your Pets

It's tough finding a GPS collar or tag that is small enough for your cat or tiny dog to wear, Read More
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Allergies can have a drastic impact on our health, including ear, nose and throat problems, upper respiratory issues and an overall drain of energy. As cat lovers, we want the best for our pets, but it needn’t come at the cost of our health. There are many ways to keep cats indoors and still reduce or eliminate allergies. If you’re allergic to your pet, rest assured that you’re not alone. Studies show that nearly two million Americans live with at least one cat in their home, despite being allergic. According to Dr. Jorgenson of the Arizona Asthma and Allergy Institute, approximately 20% of the population suffers from allergies. The good news is that fewer than 10% of his patients choose the drastic option of re-homing their favorite felines, and if you love your cat, you already know why. Here are a few of the suggestions that he makes to help you live in harmony with your pets.

The Reasons Allergens Linger

Most cats exert a glycoprotein, which is simply a protein that has sugars attached to it, known as Fel d I. While glycoproteins are naturally occurring in all mammals, Fel d 1 is specific to our feline friends and is secreted through their sebaceous, or small skin) glands. Due to the unique chemical makeup of the protein, it can then easily attach itself to a cat’s dander. After grooming, the dander becomes airborne in the form of lightweight, microscopic particles, which then attach themselves to furniture, carpet, or particles of dust.

Removing Allergens at the Source

Even if a pet is no longer in the home, the allergen is difficult to eliminate and can take between 4-6 months (and a great deal of deep cleaning) before you’ll see a difference in particle levels. There are, however, many ways to share a home with your cats despite suffering from allergies. It all comes down to some minor home improvements that can even have the added benefit of increasing your home’s value.

  • Replace Carpeting: Ridding your home of wall-to-wall carpeting is one of the best ways to alleviate allergies. According to Dr. Lori Coughlin, DVM and owner of The Cat Practice in Oak Park, Illinois, “Carpeting is the biggest culprit when it comes to trapping dust mites and spores.”  Replace your carpet with tile, hardwood flooring, linoleum or even decorative concrete to dramatically reduce all types of allergens.
  • Replace Curtains: Next to carpet, curtains are one of the biggest allergen attractants in your home. Consider replacing curtains with wooden or vinyl blinds. You’ll find them attractive and easy to clean, and custom blinds can actually increase your home’s value.  If you do choose to stay with cloth curtains, be sure they are washable and made of synthetic fiber or plain cotton.
  • Upgrade Furniture: Plush, soft furniture is a magnet for dust mites and pet hair, and can be difficult to clean. Try updating your cloth-covered furniture for a more modern look that is easy to maintain. Faux leather, vinyl and other similar materials won’t attract and trap allergens.
  • Install a Central Vacuum System: Installing a central vacuuming system will help move the dander and dust outside of the home, rather than release allergens into the air. No more heavy portable unit to drag around the house, and it can actually increase the value of your home up to $2,000.
  • Rid Home of Wallpaper: Get rid of that old wallpaper and create a new look with tile or paint. Oftentimes, the thick fibers of wallpaper can trap allergens and mold. When combined with water, this can lead to many types of allergies. Tiling your bathroom can dramatically increase your home value.
  • Seal Up Doors and Windows: Your cat may not be solely responsible for your allergies! In areas with high levels of dust or mold, you may be allergic to something completely different. Ensure that your doors are completely sealed against the outdoors by using caulk and weather stripping, and consider installing double-paned windows. You will even be helping the environment (and your pocketbook) by reducing electricity and gas use.
  • Filter the Air: You don’t need to pay for an entire new air conditioning unit. There are some very good systems out there that can help dramatically reduce or eliminate airborne allergens. Look into a central system that piggybacks your air conditioning / heating units, or you can invest in a portable HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter.
  • Create A “Cat-Free” Zone: Since we typically spend 1/3 of our time in the bedroom, creating a safe haven by keeping your bedroom a “cat-free zone” can be an alternative. According to Dr. Jorgensen, “Keeping the bedroom free of cats and adding a HEPA filter” can go a long way towards reducing allergies.
  • Build an Outdoor Enclosure: Feline design is becoming the new trend in homes. By allowing your cat to spend part of the day in an air-conditioned (or heated) outdoor enclosure, you can create a little sanctuary for both you and your pets. Be sure to include lots of areas for climbing, toys to play with, and plenty of comfortable ledges for long naps.
  • Grooming Outdoors: Brushing your cat’s coat each day can go a long ways towards reducing allergens, but be sure you take them into an enclosed, outdoor area before grooming. When you brush your pet in your home, you are simply releasing more allergens into the air. “Several of my patients have also found it useful to wipe their cats down with a damp rag each day,” says Dr. Coughlin.  “Daily baths can dry the coat, resulting in over-grooming problems, and may needlessly stress your pet.” However, weekly baths have been demonstrated to eliminate nearly 84% of the allergens.

Living with cats and allergies can be done. With the new advent of immunotherapy, over-the-counter and holistic relief, portable HEPA filters and new technology, you can be successful in sharing your home with your cats. “All cats, even lions and tigers, produce the Fel d 1 allergen,” says Dr. Ronald Jorgensen.  But some cats naturally produce less of it. The Cornish/Devon Rex, Sphynx and Siberian breeds are reported to create fewer reactions in those who have allergies.  If you or a family member has allergies, first ensure that it’s really your cats that you’re allergic too. Oftentimes, reactions are set off by other types of allergens. Use the methods mentioned in this article to reduce allergens throughout your home. And remember, when it comes to the levels of allergens, it depends on the individual cat. You may just discover that you have less of a reaction to one specific cat or cat breed than you would to another.

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stacymantle
Author: stacymantle
About the Author

Stacy Mantle is a freelance writer who currently resides in the southwestern deserts of Arizona with a few dogs, several cats, and a very understanding husband. She is a regular contributor to Pet Age Magazine, Catster, Animal Behavior College, and of course, PetsWeekly. Many of her stories and articles have been translated into several languages, and now reach an international audience. She is also the author of a bestselling urban fantasy/thriller, Shepherd's Moon; a humor book entitled, Conquering the Food Chain: Living Amongst Animals (Without Becoming One), and a line of Educational Activity Books for children.


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