How to Get Rid of Cat Dander in the Home

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Like people, cats produce dander. Specifically, cats produce dander as they shed, and even furless cats produce some dander. Therefore, getting rid of cat dander in your home requires tools. Quality vacuum cleaners and air-purifying HEPA filters are your best defense against cat dander. Regular cat brushing also helps, particularly if your cat is a long-hair breed, such as a Persian, Maine coon, or the popular ragdoll. Eliminating the dander from spreading throughout the home is your goal.

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Regular cat brushing also helps get rid of cat dander in the home.
Image Credit: Catalin` Grigoriu/iStock/GettyImages

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Cat dander allergies

Animals with fur (and people) regularly shed dead skin cells called dander. It's this dander that causes allergic reactions, such as watery eyes, shortness of breath, congestion, or sniffles. In extreme cases, pet dander can trigger asthma attacks or contribute to hives or dermatitis.

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When people say they are allergic to cats, they actually mean they react to cat dander and possibly proteins present in pet saliva, urine, and feces. Because pet dander is microscopic and notched, it sticks easily to fabric and carpets. It can even be carried into the home on clothing. Shedding dead skin cells is a natural and necessary process for most mammals. It can't be eliminated entirely, so reducing the buildup of dander throughout a home is key.

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How to get rid of cat dander

If cat dander is causing problems in your home, such as igniting allergic reactions, the first step is to get rid of cat dander indoors. An effective cat dander remover is a superior-quality vacuum cleaner, something you likely use already, but the model and its power is important. Not all vacuum cleaners are able to disengage jagged dander molecules attached to carpet fibers.

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Many companies offer models designed specifically for homes with pets, which are the best choice. These usually pricey models are designed to remove accumulated pet hair often embedded in the carpet. Fur is the vehicle for the dander, so you want to remove not only the dustlike cat dander from the home but all the fur as well. A hand-held vacuum for quick cleanups is also a useful tool to prevent cat dander buildup.

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Removing carpets reduces dander

Even better, remove carpets from the home entirely, as carpet fibers cling to dust, dirt, and cat dander. For those suffering from extreme allergies, carpet-free living is recommended. Fur and dander scattered over hard floors is much easier to clean up regularly and quickly, especially if your vacuum cleaner has a floor setting.

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In fact, many hotel and motel chains are converting rooms to linoleum or hard floor surfaces because it is more hygienic, especially if the vacation accommodation is pet friendly. Carpetless floors are also easier to maintain on a day-to-day basis.

How to reduce cat dander

After you've used a cat dander remover and thoroughly cleaned either the carpets or hardwood flooring, the next goal is to stop pet dander from building up again. To reduce cat dander in the home, invest in a quality HEPA air purifier or air-filtration system. Air purifiers will reduce the circulation of cat dander and other irritants.

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HEPA air purifiers capture various pollutants (not only cat dander) as the air passes through a filter. Particles are trapped in the filter (which must be cleaned frequently) and then the clean air is released back into the room. Like bacteria and mold, pet dander is a particle, and most air purifiers designed for residential use filter both gases and particles with almost 100 percent efficiency. The carbon filters in air purifiers eliminate volatile organic compounds, which is an added bonus because long-term exposure to them can be toxic to pets as well as humans.

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