All Cats Rescue
Healing hearts
one paw at a time.
Posted on March 28th, 2015

This article is by Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM, holistic veterinarian and original founder of Spirit Essences holistic remedies for animals, and originally appeared at JacksonGalaxy.com

Between 5 and 10% of the human population has at least some sensitivity to cats.  When people come into contact with a cat to which they are sensitive, they may experience a wide range of symptoms, from eye irritation and swelling, or minor sniffling and sneezing, to potentially life-threatening asthma attacks.

Although allergic reactions to cats tend to appear in early adulthood, one can develop the allergy at any time in life.  In some cat-allergic people, the reaction happens almost instantaneously.  Others may experience an extended delay (between 4-8 hours) between exposure and reaction.  The duration of symptoms may be anywhere from a few minutes to persistence of much longer periods.

Recent studies indicate that childhood exposure to cats may actually reduce the risk of allergic disease such as asthma.  So does breast-feeding of infants.

There are seven known cat allergens.  They are shed in saliva, skin secretions, and, to some extent, in urine.  The major cat allergen is a protein called “Fel d 1” that is secreted primarily in the cat’s saliva and skin, and transmitted throughout the coat during grooming.  Dried skin particles (commonly referred to as dander) may contain the offending protein, although it is important to remember that the allergen is not an integral part of dander or the coat itself.

A major obstacle in helping cat guardians is that the protein particles in question are so small that they can hang suspended in the air and are thus easily inhaled.  Another hurdle is that the particles are sticky and will cling or settle on any porous surface, including draperies, upholstered furniture and bedding, even walls and ceilings.  Because cat allergen is so tiny and light, it lingers in the home for long periods and has even been discovered in homes up to six months after the offending cat has been removed (as well as in homes where a cat had never even lived!)

Are some breeds “safe” for allergy sufferers?

Actually, the amount of allergen present does not differ from breed to breed.  Shorthaired cats appear to produce similar amounts of allergen as their longhaired cousins.  One study did suggest that light-colored cats may be somewhat less allergenic than dark-colored cats.  Others claim no difference.  Unfortunately, besides trial and error, there is no positive way of identifying a cat that will set off symptoms.
Each cat is an individual as to how much allergen they produce.  That’s why an allergy sufferer may have widely differing reactions from one cat to another.  Just because one might have had a good, low reaction experience with one Siamese cat does not mean that all Siamese can be tolerated.

Are hairless cats hypoallergenic?

Sorry, no.  Even the Sphinx, a “hairless” breed, has a fine downy coat, and since these cats still groom themselves, as all cats do, the suspect protein is still on their skin, and thus in the air.  If there is an advantage to a hairless cat, it is only that fewer additional allergens like pollen or dust mites can cling to the hair and also get released into the air during grooming.

There have been attempts to breed or clone a truly “non-allergenic” cat, but they have not been successful.

Cat hair or dander itself is not allergenic, so shaving the cat will not lessen the reaction.
However, there are several effective ways to deal with the unpleasant effects of a cat allergy.

The Big 3 Strategies for Coping with Cat Allergies:

1. TREAT THE CAT

According to one clinical study, spray-on anti-allergy substances, or specially designed shampoos or cream rinses have negligible effect on allergic reactions.  Immersion bathing works well temporarily, but allergens return within days.

At the same time, stories abound about the above products working very well, even lowering reactions to the point of complete tolerance.  It’s a matter of trial and error with each individual cat.  Bear in mind that bathing the cat every week will dry out the skin, and may actually increase protein secretions.

One common sense treatment to help lower the allergen output in the house is daily brushing or combing, thus removing much of the hair and dander that may contain the allergenic protein.  It also makes sense not to have the allergy sufferer do the brushing, and doing it in a room the allergic person can avoid (or outside in a confined, safe area) will ensure that no additional protein is released into the home.

Manage any pre-existing conditions the cat may have which could cause excessive scaly, dry skin and exacerbate the guardian’s problem.

Bathing the cat weekly with a cat-safe, anti-allergen shampoo can be helpful, if the cat is amenable.

The oral tranquilizer Acepromazine can be given at ultra-low doses in the cat’s food and provides relief for a great many allergy sufferers.  While a single small study on the use of Acepromazine did not find statistically significant results, in practice, about 50% of people report a complete cessation of symptoms, 25% report that symptoms are improved, and 25% report no change.  It takes 2-4 weeks to see results.

However, the formula is simple, inexpensive, and easy to try.  The medication changes the chemical composition of the cat’s saliva, reducing the amount of allergenic protein secreted.  It must be given every day to maintain the effect.  Because the dose is so tiny, it has no effect on the cat’s behavior and can be given for life.  You can give the recipe for “Ace Allergy Drops” to your vet: To a one-ounce dropper bottle containing 30 ml spring water, add 5 mg Acepromazine (1/2 ml of injectable 10 mg/ml, or one 5 mg tablet crushed, or half of a 10 mg tablet crushed).  Instructions: Shake well before using.  For an adult cat, add 5-6 drops of mixture to cat’s wet food daily.  For smaller kittens, use 1-2 drops.  Because there is no preservative, store the bottle in the refrigerator.

A change in the cat’s diet can do wonders.  In particular, the addition of Omega-3 fatty acids to the diet will keep the skin supple and healthy.

Moreover, many people who have put their cats on homemade or raw diets report that their allergies have diminished or even vanished.  It only makes sense to avoid processed foods with all their additives and dyes.  At the very least, get rid of the dry food—that’s where the most questionable ingredients and stray chemicals are found.

There is no value in declawing a cat due to allergies; in fact, there’s no value (and much detriment) in declawing a cat for any reason.

2. MANAGE THE ENVIRONMENT
Since allergens are cumulative, using several moderately effective methods together is the best approach.


Daily vacuuming is commonly recommended, but vacuuming can backfire!  Many allergy sufferers over-vacuum.  An ordinary vacuum cleaner’s powerful motor simply stirs up and blows the tiny allergen proteins around the room along with dust and other potential allergens.  A better option is a vacuum with a micro-filtration device (like a HEPA filter), which can actually stop something as small as feline allergens.  The pesky proteins can settle not only in drapes and furniture, but also on shelving and walls – so make sure that the vacuum has an assortment of hand attachments and get into all the corners.  Obviously, the allergy sufferer should never be the one vacuuming (but there’s no reason why he can’t do the dishes)!

When dusting, using spray furniture polish dramatically limits allergen particles from becoming airborne.  Spray directly onto the surface, rather than onto the dustcloth; it’s more effective.  Judicious dusting can reduce airborne cat allergens by 95%.

Limit fabrics in the home: all porous materials are allergen friendly.  Carpet accumulates 100 times more cat allergen than a hard floor.  Blinds are better than drapes (although you do have to keep them clean).  Use hypoallergenic pillows instead of feather ones. Anything you can do to make the environment “harder” will result in as much allergen resistance as possible.  Soft surfaces in the home are invitations to catnaps as well as allergy attacks.

Specifically keeping the cat out of the bedroom will give the guardian an “allergen free zone,” which can bring psychological as well as physiologic relief.  (However, suddenly locking the cat out could trigger behavioral issues.)

An effective tool for clearing cat allergens is a freestanding air purifier with a HEPA filter.  These filters can remove nearly 100% of the allergens from the room in which they are placed.  Ideally, there should be one in every room with fabrics, but at least put one in the bedroom.  Fortunately, the price of HEPA purifiers has come way down in recent years.  Do check a consumer guide to make sure the chosen model can handle at least twice the square footage of the room.  Ionic air filtration devices have also shown much promise in trapping small protein particles.  However, while filtration and cat exclusion do reduce allergen levels, it may take quite a while to get a substantial reduction of symptoms.

3. GUARD THE GUARDIAN
  • Wash those hands!  Every time the guardian pets the cat, has a snuggle session, etc., immediately wash the hands with soap and warm water.  This must become an iron-clad habit.
  • Keep up with the laundry.  Resist the temptation to wear the same clothes between laundering cycles, even if they’re “not that dirty” – really, they are!  Washing machines are capable of removing most cat allergens.  Wool and polyester clothing retain more cat allergen than cotton, although fabric in general is a haven for allergenic particles.  Dry cleaning is reasonably effective at removing cat allergen from non-washable fabrics.
  • No No Kitty!  If the guardian suffers from a contact allergy like rashes or hives, the sad truth is that he/she must curtail any efforts from the cat to show affection by licking or giving ‘love bites’ – a primary source of the allergenic protein is the cat’s saliva.
  • Consult an allergist.  It is rare for someone to be allergic to only one protein.  It’s very possible that pre-existing allergies weren’t as noticeable until the new cat became “the last straw” and triggered more violent reactions.  If allergies are bad enough, keeping epinephrine handy may be necessary.
  • Medication.  Both over the counter and prescription medication have had wonderful results for some, and done absolutely nothing for others.  Don’t forget to tell your physician or allergist what you are using, who can properly monitor results.  Taking antihistamines or histamine blockers on a daily basis as a prophylactic for as long as one lives with a cat is a controversial subject. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) is considered very safe even long-term, but the side effects can be unpleasant; and it’s good to keep around for those really bad days.
  • Immunotherapy.  The principle behind this technique is hyposensitization therapy (also called “allergen immuno-therapy”).  This technique helps the allergic person build up a tolerance for the cat allergen by taking small doses of the protein, orally or by injection, increasing the amount gradually.  This treatment requires patience; it is a slow process, taking anywhere from two months to a year to take hold, and sometimes several years to achieve maximum benefit.  However, its success in retraining the body’s immune system not to overreact has been shown clinically as well as anecdotally from many sufferers.  In the U.S., injectable hyposensitization is still popular, but the oral method (used in the U.K.) may be safer, not to mention less hassle.
  • Holistic Allergy Remedies.  These are legion.  The most promising ones include:
    • Use a Neti pot once or twice a day to keep sinuses clear; or use a plain saline nasal spray
    • Omega-3 fatty acids (yes, for you, too!)
    • Quercitin (a member of the Vitamin C family) and/or other antioxidants
    • Stinging Nettle (a natural antihistamine)
    •  Butterbur (may block histamine and other inflammatory messengers)
    • Homeopathy
    • Acupuncture
    • Nutrition (simplifying your diet, especially eliminating wheat and corn, can go a long way toward making your immune system much less reactive
    • Stress management (stress does your immune system no favors; use flower essences, exercise, meditation – but heck, you know all that stuff already!)
The Bottom Line
It may take time and some trial-and-error with different combinations of solutions to hit upon the right regimen.  Convincing one’s significant other may prove more difficult.  But people manage to live with allergies to thousands of airborne particles every day.  And aren’t those big eyes and all that unconditional love worth it?

Posted on February 28th, 2015

Another reason to adopt a pet for your family! On top of teaching your kids compassion and providing a home for a deserving friend, we’ve got another pro-pet-adoption point! A recent study from Kuopio University Hospital in Finland shows that babies who live with pets during their first year of life are approximately one-third more likely to be healthier, and less susceptible to respiratory infections and colds. They found that children exposed to cats and dogs were overall healthier than babies who do not have a pet at home. How much healthier? It seems antibiotics were not needed as much, the children experienced fewer ear infections, not as many runny noses, and suffered fewer weeks with a cough, according to the study. Although the evidence was strongest for babies exposed to dogs, exposure to cats also showed positive effects. And even more good news is that this research doesn’t stand alone! There have been various studies suggesting that pets in the home could potentially provide protection for kids against developing allergies or even asthma.

If you’ve been hesitant to adopt a pet for your family because of health or allergy concerns, we hope this study will ease some of your worry and encourage you to consider opening your home to a rescued furry family member. If you’d like to read more about this study, click here!

This article was generously provided by AdoptAPet.com

Posted on February 28th, 2015

By Galina Hale 

I am allergic to cats.  My boyfriend has two of them in a rather small house. The first time I visited him, after 15 minutes my eyes itched, my nose ran, and I could not stop sneezing.  So as my very first romantic gift to him, I gave him a brand-new Hepa vacuum cleaner!  It improved the situation a little, but after sitting for an hour on the couch, I had to evacuate.  Long story short, I went to the allergy clinic.  The allergist, after hearing my story, asked me the following two questions: “How serious is your relationship?”  ”How old are the cats?”  I turned to ever-helpful networks, the Internet and my friends.  They were a lot more encouraging than the doctor! Here’s what I’ve put together from all these sources and from my own experiences, in hopes it will help others allergic to cats, too.

First, good news!  Even though all professional allergy specialists will deny it – an overwhelming majority of people in my situation adjust over time and their allergies weakened substantially or even disappear.  Having constant controlled exposure to pet allergens seems to work in the same way as allergy shots do.

Second, controlling the exposure is not that hard! It does take some investment in technology, some organization, and some dedication from the person not allergic to pets (in my case, my boyfriend).  It is the exposure to allergens you need to control, not the exposure to pets.

Many people erroneously think that the allergens are in the hair/fur of the dogs or cats.  This is not the case.  The allergens are actually the proteins found in saliva.  This is why cats, who lick themselves all the time, tend to cause more allergies than dogs.  Also the proteins in dogs and cats are not the same, so a person can be allergic to cats and not dogs or vice versa. These proteins are rather small and sticky, which means that they tend to stay in the air once they are released, and that they do not necessarily get picked up off the carpet by a vacuum cleaner.
Here are some fixes nonetheless that could lead to great improvements for you and the cats you wish to befriend!

Fix #1, the vacuum. As mentioned above, consider getting a top of the line, powerful vacuum cleaner with a Hepa filter.  I prefer the bag-less ones because they are more economical.  I even put a surgical mask on if I’m the one emptying the stuff from the vacuum.

Fix #2, the air cleaner.  Some of these proteins will escape the vacuum cleaner filter or will be launched into the air by wind, air conditioner, or forced air heating systems.  We tested the Pet Machine by Austin Air which worked great.  My boyfriend turns it on as soon as he is done vacuuming and leaves it running until I come over. The air feels so fresh. If I start feeling a little tickle in my nose, I stand right next to it for a couple of minutes and it goes away.

Fix #3, the chemicals.  Allersearch ADMS is a spray that binds proteins. This means that if you spray it on your carpets and couches a few hours before vacuuming, you will actually be able to remove the allergens. AllerPet topical solution, which has a cat version and a dog version, neutralizes the proteins on the skin of your animals. It can be used as a shampoo if you bathe your animal (note: I find it works better for dogs!), or it can be put on a wash cloth which you can pat your animal with (note: wiping from the tail towards the head works better for cats.)  If you can’t avoid direct contact with a pet that you are allergic to, AllerPet is your a very helpful tool as it mostly nips the problem in the bud.  Of course all of these products are designed to be harmless to animals.

There are a few more tips, and even though they may only help marginally, those small benefits can help make the difference between having symptoms and not having symptoms.

- Allersearch Anti-Allergen Wash can be added to your laundry to get allergens off the sheets and clothes.
- Keep the litter box clean!
- Use an allergy-proof mattress cover and pillow cases.
- Try to avoid having other allergens in the air (dust, pollen, etc.).
- Shampoo your carpets once a year.

There is no need to choose between pets and a loved one who is allergic to them.  For more, consider reading a great book by Shirlee Kalstone called “Allergic to Pets? The Breakthrough Guide to Living with Animals you Love.” As for me, I’m happy to report that after a year of making these improvements I can spend an extended period of time at my boyfriend’s house without resorting to anti-histamines or nasal steroids. I’m not quite ready to have the cats on my lap, but I no longer freak out when they make themselves comfortable on top of the quilt or under my chair!  Most importantly, although I do have occasional sneezes, I don’t have to leave the house! The air is cleaner and we can enjoy each others’ company.  I’m sure it will only get better – and I am looking forward to a long-term relationships with the cats, and with my boyfriend!

This article was generously provided by AdoptAPet.com

Posted on February 28th, 2015

Cats meow to communicate. Most often domestic cats are meowing to try to tell their humans something. Usually humans appreciate these vocal requests, being such vocally communicative creatures ourselves. But when a cat is meowing at night when we (and our neighbors) are trying to sleep, that’s not usually appreciated! Cats are naturally nocturnal beings. If you have a cat that is meowing at night and you want him to stop, it typically involves a bit of detective work and trial-and-error figuring out what will be a happy resolution to what is causing the meowing and making him stop. The first step is to try to figuring out why he is meowing. Here are some things a cat’s meow at night could be trying to tell you:

- I’m lonely
- I’m bored
- I’m hungry (or think I’m hungry)
- I’m thirsty
- I want to be let in (if he’s locked out of the bedroom for example)
- I want to go outside
- I miss my mom (most often baby kittens, but older cats too)

Ideally the solution will eliminate the reason for the nighttime meowing before it starts. Once you’ve gone to bed and your cats starts meowing, if you get up to do something about it, you are teaching you cat — or rather, your cat is training you — that if he meows, you’ll get up and do something. That’s rewarding the unwanted behavior. You might want to invest in some ear plugs for your household and neighbors while you give the various solutions a try!

Note: These solutions are not the only possible solutions! They are just ideas to get you started on figuring out the best solution for your household and your cat.

Solution for lonely/bored: One hour before bedtime, engage Kitty in 45 minutes of intense playtime and games. The last 15 minutes are spent giving Kitty attention, but of the low-key kind, like talking to him, snuggling with him if he likes that. I have one foster cat who loves being read a bedtime story! We are often so busy with our lives, and cats appear to be so low-maintenance, but some cats need more physical and emotional attention that they are getting, which is why they are meowing at night.

Solution for I’m hungry/thirsty: Feed your cat meals instead of free-feeding, if you are free feeding. Or if you are gone most of the day, free-feed while you are gone, but take up the food when you get home. Then put down the free-feeding dish right before you go to bed. Alternately, feed your cat a bedtime snack of wet food.

Solution for I want to be let in: If you are locking Kitty out of the bedroom because he wants to sleep with his belly across your face, try getting him a super awesome carpet cat tree (aka cat condo) with the U-shaped or O-shaped kitty sleeping perches, and put it right next to your bed, making sure one of the sleeping perches is higher than your head – cats often want to be higher than us. If Kitty is locked out because he attacks your feet as they move under the covers, one hour before bedtime, engage Kitty in 45 minutes of intense playtime and games, then 15 minutes of mellow winding-down playtime.

Solutions for I want to go outside: This is typically a cat who goes out during the day, or who used to be allowed to go outside, but is now being kept inside at night for his own safety. Give Kitty access to an open but securely screened in window with a kitty perch where he can feel as if he’s outside, or build him a catio (it doesn’t have to be large) and install a cat door so he can go in and out without needing your assistance.

Solutions for I want my mom: Lots of cuddle time before bed, and if you can have kitty sleep in bed with you, that will often solve this problem. If kitty is too small to be safely in bed with you, and you don’t have or can’t get your kitty a real feline friend, a stuffed animal the size of another cat or kitten can help. They even make them with heartbeat noises!

Rarely, cats may have high anxiety from traumatic past experiences that causes nighttime meowing. These cats may need a professional cat behaviorist or veterinarian’s help to stop their night time meowing.

I hope these solutions for your cat meowing at night have been helpful! 

This article was generously provided by AdoptAPet.com

Posted on February 28th, 2015

Recently, a friend asked me for some kitten advice. She adopted a new kitten, and was having real problems with her biting behavior. I’ve fostered hundreds of kittens and cats over the years, and have had many kittens (and cats) who played too rough and would play bite before. With the help of some knowledgeable cat behaviorists, I’ve been able to teach them all to stop. By “play bite” I mean bites that would hurt but happened during play, and luckily never broke the skin. Also, sadly, I’ve seen very sweet kitties brought to a shelter for play biting behavior, which, especially in a kitten, can frequently be fairly quickly remedied. I decided to share my friend’s email and my response here, with my five steps for success. I hope this will help anyone who is struggling with a feisty, play-biting kitten!

Hi Jennifer! My family rescued the most adorable kitten. She’s 3 month old, super friendly and cute, but this is THE MOST feisty kitten I have ever met! She bites bites bites all in non-stop play. She attacked my face even! I was told to only play with her with toys, but this doesn’t seem to phase her.  I have soft paws nail caps on her, but she can still bite. Any advice would be soooo welcome! Thanks!

It’s so wonderful you rescued a kitten! That’s great you already have nail caps on her. Here are five steps I’ve used with dozens of feisty foster kittens, to teach them not to bite or play rough with people:
  1. Adopt a kitty friend for your kitten! Aim for around the same age (NOT younger, but the same age or a few months older) with an equal energy level. Before adopting, if you can, spend time with potential adoptees to try to pick one that plays gently with you already. The kittens will play together and the kittens will teach each other not to play or bite so hard that it hurts. They’ll also have fun tiring each other out!  You can find ACR's adoptable kittens here.  Tip: If adopting a 2nd kitten isn’t possible, though not as effective, give your kitten a stuffed animal toy kitten, the same size, and lots of other stuffed toys that she can bite and wrestle with safely. 
  2. Do not play with kitten using your hands, or toys that she plays with while they are in your hand. Don’t allow anyone else to either!
  3. Get a laser toy and feather toy on a string, or any other super fun running around toys that you can play without being too close to kitten. Like a remote control mouse!! (Here’s an adorable video of a kitten playing with a remote control mouse.) Get kitten’s energy out with 3 “remote” play sessions of 5-10 minutes every day. Tire kitten out with fun!  Tip: The frequency and intensity of the play sessions will probably need to increase as she becomes an adolescent, until she matures into an adult kitty, and then can taper down. It’s ideal to observe kitty during each session to see the moment she starts to get slightly less interested in playing, and stop before she’s totally tired/bored with the game.
  4. If kitten starts to rough-play with any part of your body, IMMEDIATELY stop playing & walk out of room. If she’s “attacking” you while you are sleeping, or resting, you may need to close her out of those rooms while you are doing those activities, until these steps start helping.
  5. Practice petting only when kitten is super sleepy, or eating. Kitten should learn human hands touching them is soothing, not play.
You should see improvement starting almost immediately, but definitely within a few days. If you do get bitten hard enough to draw blood, even the tiniest bit, make sure you immediately flush flush flush with clean running water at full force for at least 5 minutes, get some antibiotic ointment on it, and get to the doctor or ER room immediately for preventative antibiotics. Even tiny cat bites should not to be ignored. Not to scare you, but the infections they can cause, especially to hands and wrists, can be very severe and require surgery if not immediately (the same day) treated by a doctor.

Thanks again for adopting a kitten and giving her a loving and caring home!

​​This article was generously provided by AdoptAPet.com