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If you share your home with a cat, you have dander. These dead flakes of skin are a highly potent allergen that can wreak havoc with respiratory conditions such as asthma and allergies. Here are 5 pieces of information that will help.

General Cat Care #1: Before You Bring Your Cat Home
You will need food, food dish, water bowl, interactive toys, brush, comb, safety cat collar, scratching post, litter and litter box.
General Cat Care #2: Feeding
An adult cat should be fed one large or two smaller meals each day. Kittens from 6 to 12 weeks need to be fed four times a day. Kittens from three to six months need to be fed three times a day. You can either feed specific meals, throwing away any leftover canned food after 30 minutes or free-feed dry food (keeping food out all the time).

Feed your cat a high-quality, brand-name kitten or cat food (avoid generic brands) two to three times a day. Kittens can be fed human baby food for a short time if they won’t eat kitten food softened by soaking in warm water. Use turkey or chicken baby food made for children six months and older. Gradually mix with cat food. Cow’s milk is not necessary and can cause diarrhea in kittens and cats. Provide fresh, clean water at all times. Wash and refill water bowls daily.

What you can't see can be a problem. There's an old saying that what you don't know won't hurt you. But if you are sensitive to the protein found in these dead skin flakes, your body doesn't have to be told that it's there. And it can definitely hurt your quality of life by causing you to sneeze, wheeze, itch, have watery eyes, and a congested nose.

Because these particles are microscopic, they cannot be seen with the naked eye. Don't let that give you a false sense of security about your air quality.

There's no getting rid of it. Replacing older skin with newer skin that is more able to protect the body against disease and infection is the body's ingenious way of keeping your pooch as healthy as possible. So this process is normal for all warm-blooded animals. That means that it's a fact of life for as long as you have your pet.

Grooming your cat can help minimize the amount of dander on your cat. That means there is less to attach to furniture and go airborne with daily activities. Feeding it a healthy diet can also help keep skin healthier and reduce unusually high amounts of shedding because of improper nutrients.

General Cat Care #3: Grooming
Most cats stay relatively clean and rarely need a bath, but they do need to be brushed or combed. Frequent brushing helps keep your cat’s coat clean, reduces the amount of shedding and cuts down on the incidence of hairballs
General Cat Care #4: Handling
To pick up your cat, place one hand behind the front legs and another under the hindquarters. Lift gently. Never pick up a cat by the scruff of the neck (behind the ears) or by the front legs without supporting the rear end.
General Cat Care #5: Housing
Cats should have a clean, dry place of their own in the house. Line your cat’s bed with a soft, warm blanket or towel. Be sure to wash the bedding often. Please keep your cat indoors. If your companion animal is allowed outside, he can contract diseases, get ticks or parasites, become lost or get hit by a car, hurt in a fight or poisoned. Also, cats prey on wildlife.

Every cat produces it. There is no such thing as a cat that doesn't produce dander. Even with minimal hair, this process of rejuvenating skin continues. And even though the hair and fur are not the actual allergens, because dander is sticky stuff, it often attaches to these particles and makes it seem as though these big particles are the allergens.

Eliminating hair and other particles can help. In addition to pet-related pollutants there are a number of particulates found in indoor spaces regardless of how clean it is. They include dust, dust mites, mold and mildew spores, seasonal pollen, bacteria and viruses.

By reducing the number of airborne particles, you are also reducing the microscopic particles (dander, bacteria, and viruses) that use them to travel from one host to another. That means you can eliminate multiple sized particles. And that's a good thing.

Filtering the air is the most reliable way to reduce dander. A high efficiency particle arresting (HEPA) filter is specifically designed to remove airborne particulates that are .3 microns or greater in size. A micron is defined as one millionth of a meter is considerably smaller than the period at the end of this sentence.

Nothing will get rid of all of the airborne particles. But by continually filtering the air of normal pollutants as well as the ones your cat generates will drastically reduce the respiratory issues that can be caused by the protein in dander.

General Cat Care #6: Identification
If allowed outdoors (again, we caution against it!), your cat needs to wear a safety collar and an ID tag. A safety collar with an elastic panel will allow your cat to break loose if the collar gets caught on something. An ID tag or an implanted microchip can help insure that your cat is returned if he or she becomes lost.
General Cat Care #7: Litter Box
All indoor cats need a litter box, which should be placed in a quiet, accessible location. A bathroom or utility room is a good place for your cat’s box. In a multi-level home, one box per floor is recommended. Avoid moving the box unless absolutely necessary. Then do so slowly, a few inches a day. Cats won’t use a messy, SMELLY litter box. Scoop solids out of the box at least once a day. Dump everything, wash with a mild detergent (don’t use ammonia) and refill at least once a week, less frequently if using clumping litter. Don’t use deodorants or scents in the litter or litter box (especially avoid lemon scent).
Updated: February 24, 2017 — 5:44 pm

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