Having allergic reactions to cats is a common trait among people, but what is it about them that makes so many people itch, sneeze, and get watery eyes? While many people assume it's their hair, it's actually their dander, or dead skin cells, which produce a protein called Fel d 1 that can cause an allergic reaction. One way to get around having cat allergies is to reduce the amount of dander that your skin comes in contact with. There are a number of dander-reducing products on the market, any of which target various aspects of cat grooming, like moisturizing your cat's skin, reducing dandruff, de-shedding, and more.
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What to consider when purchasing dander-reducing products
Severity: The great thing about dander reduction products is that there's no one way to address it. The bad thing is that it may result in a bit of trial and error before you find your perfect fit. When looking to reduce dander, the main objective is to create a healthy skin barrier through cleansing and moisturizing. For many cats with mild to moderate dander, a shampoo (including dry shampoo) or a conditioning treatment usually does the trick. For more severe cases, you may need to look into a medicated product like a spray or wipes.
Your Cat's Tolerance: Cat dander really doesn't affect cats, assuming that their skin and coat are healthy and functioning properly. Often, people wish to reduce the amount of cat dander their cats produce, and subsequently leave around their homes, so that they aren't as itchy or sneezy, which is not an unreasonable request. If your cat has particularly sensitive skin, or if they have existing skin conditions that may be exacerbated by certain grooming products like shampoos or moisturizing sprays, shop for hypoallergenic formulas, and consider looking into over-the-counter allergy medications for yourself.
Veterinary Advice: It's always encouraged to consult your veterinarian before adding any topical or systemic products to your cat's wellness routine, especially if your cat has existing medical issues. Cats groom themselves constantly and generally don't require many baths unless they have medical issues (like arthritis or obesity) preventing them from washing effectively. If you're not sure which product to start with, ask your veterinarian for recommendations with your cat's skin in mind.
The best overall cat dander reducer
Allerpet Cat Dander Remover with Mitt
For effective grooming that's easy on both you and your cat, this two-part product consisting of a dander-reducing spray and a soft glove for easy application is a great place to start. The Allerpet spray is a nontoxic formula made with aloe vera and chamomile that binds to the allergy-causing protein in cat dander, and the mitt helps remove dead skin cells and loose fur without having to bathe your pet. Because the Fel d 1 protein is also found in saliva and urine, using the spray/mitt combo makes washing sensitive areas, like the genitals, quick and easy. To use, just spray the formula onto the mitt, then wipe over your cat.
The best budget cat dander reducer
Burt's Bees Natural Pet Care for Cats Dander Reducing Spray
You don't have to deal with cat dander and the irritating allergies that come with it just because you're shopping on a budget—this easy-to-use spray is less than $7 and contains skin-soothing ingredients including colloidal oatmeal and aloe vera juice. This is one of the more easy-to-use grooming products as you only have to spray some onto your cat's coat, then leave it on. Routine spritzing will work to protect the skin barrier, resulting in less dandruff and dryness, and produce a soft, shiny coat.
The best leave-in conditioner cat dander reducer
Zymox Enzymatic Dogs & Cat Leave-on Conditioner
For cats with excessively dry skin, applying a leave-in conditioner with hydrating and moisturizing ingredients may be the best way for you to reduce dander. Using an enzymatic formula, this conditioner is ideal for cats who struggle with bacterial or fungal skin infections as it creates a protective barrier on the skin to reduce symptomatic inflammation and irritation (and subsequently, itchiness.) Made with natural ingredients, this is a conditioner that's best used after cat shampoo and while your cat's coat is still wet, although no rinsing is required after application.
The best waterless cat dander reducer
Pro Plan LIVECLEAR Rinse-Free Allergen Reducing Cat Shampoo
For truly clean skin, you'll need a cleanser formulated with mild surfactants to remove residue and gentle conditioning agents to leave the skin soft and hydrated. This allergen-reducing dry shampoo is pH balanced and hypoallergenic and is made from 99.8% all-natural products to clean the coat and offer a fresh scent, including radish root. Additionally, this shampoo is part of Pro Plan's LIVECLEAR line of products, which includes dry food that contains a protein sourced from eggs to bind to the skin-irritating protein Fel d 1 to neutralize it and reduce allergic reactions. This is a de-shedding formula as well and can reduce the amount of cat hair that builds up around the home.
The best cat dander reducer wipes
VETNIQUE LABS Dermabliss Anti-Itch and Medicated Wipes
For easy grooming on the go, wipes are an excellent option as they require minimal handling to deliver the benefits. These veterinarian-formulated wipes are medicated with chlorhexidine and ketoconazole to treat skin issues ranging from dry, flaky skin to ringworm. Each jar contains 50 medicated wipes, which can be used alone as needed or in combination with a shampoo and conditioning routine. In addition to treating skin conditions, these wipes moisturize thanks to aloe vera, gently exfoliate the skin with lactic acid, and deodorize for a fresh coat.
The best brush for reducing cat dander
Whisker City® Slicker Cat Brush
Grooming habits don't always have to include a topical product to buy and apply to your cat. Brushing your cat not only removes old hair, but also distributes the oils, or sebum, that your cat's skin naturally produces to keep their skin barrier healthy and functioning properly. This brush's handle is made from sustainably sourced bamboo and the fingers are made with stainless steel pins topped with rubber tips for a gentle brushing that won't irritate inflamed skin. It helps reduce dander by removing excessive undercoat fur as well as loose hair, which can lead to buildup and dryness.
The best moisturizer for cats
Breezytail PetO'Cera Mist - Ceramide Mist for Dogs & Cats
Sometimes, dry, flaky skin just needs a little TLC in the form of a layer of moisturizer, much like we would do for our own skin. Cats aren't as likely to hold still for a lotion rub-down the same way a person might be, which is why a mist formula is a great option for effectively moisturizing without turning the ordeal into a traumatic event. This is formulated with ceramides to lock moisture into the skin, which can be especially helpful if you live in a very dry climate, or have a cat who might roll around in drying agents like dirt. Additionally, tiger grass and D-panthenol soothe irritated skin to prevent scratching, and this spray is free of harsh ingredients including sulfates, parabens, and mineral oil, which can clog pores.
The best plant-based cat dander reducer
TropiClean Waterless Dander Reducing Cat Shampoo
If you prefer to use an all-natural, plant-based dry shampoo on your cat as a grooming tool, then this product is a great option. Made with oatmeal and cucumber extracts, this shampoo is a waterless, rinse-free way to clean your cat's skin and coat without getting them wet. This shampoo also contains an odor neutralizer for a deodorizing bath and leaves them with a light scent of coconut water for added freshness. To use, massage a small amount into your cat's coat, then brush it out.
The best cat dander reducer for allergies
PetArmor Hydrocortisone Quick Relief Spray for Dogs & Cats
Sometimes dander is simply the result of dead skin cells that don't get groomed away. In other cases, cats may be creating more dander than normal when they have something irritating their skin, causing them to scratch and spread skin flakes around the home. If your furry friend needs their own allergy relief or suffers from skin conditions like hot spots or dermatitis due to fleas or mites, a medicated spray like this one, which contains hydrocortisone, may alleviate their ailments. The active ingredient in this spray provides temporary relief from excessive itching and is safe for use on cats 12 weeks and older.
The best systemic cat dander reducer
Vital Pet Life Salmon Oil for Dogs and Cats
This may not be a traditional grooming product, but maintaining healthy skin and hair starts on the inside. Fish oil, which contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, supports healthy skin and coats in cats and is considered a natural allergy remedy for cats who constantly scratch due to dry, itchy skin. This fish oil is made from 100% wild-caught Alaskan salmon, and less than one pump per day on top of your cat's food is all it takes to offer them the benefits of fish oil, which include healthy joints and eyes in addition to skincare.