Allergies make life uncomfortable, and if you're reading this it's likely you are looking for ways to reduce the unpleasant symptoms that you or your cat suffer.
We all hate that itchy raw nose feeling, the constant sneezing and runny nose, and some cat litter products simply add to the load of allergens in your home.
Cat litter can cause allergic reactions
Every day both cats and their human parents suffer from frustrating allergies from particles in their environment. These can include such things as dust, grass, pollen, dust mites, and not surprisingly - cat litter!
Since there are some cat litter types that cause allergic reactions in both humans and kitty cats, it's important to make some considerations when choosing the best hypoallergenic cat litter for your fluffy feline.
What Are Cat Litter Allergies?
Allergic reactions in cats are triggered by the overreaction of their immune system as it tries to get rid of the allergy-causing substances, also known as allergens.
Some of the elements that are likely to trigger allergic reactions include dust, additives or fragrances.
A cat can react to an allergic reaction almost immediately or over time.
This means that, even if your cat has not exhibited any allergic reactions immediately, an allergy could still develop and show up at any given point in the future.
Self cleaning litter tray?
Another factor to consider is whether fluffy's little deposits are causing allergy problems for you when you have to manually clean up the litter tray. One solution might be a self-cleaning litter tray.
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Symptoms of Litter Allergies in Cats
Cats that are allergic to the litter may start acting strangely due to the nuisance caused by their litter.
Your cat may completely avoid using the litter box, and start toileting in other areas of your house - nasty!
That said, here are the typical symptoms of litter allergy that you may notice in your cat:
- A runny nose.
- Swelling on the nose.
- Keeping away from their litter box.
- Coughing and severe scratching.
- Itchy skin due to scratching
Best Hypoallergenic Cat Litter - Top Picks
There are cat litter brands that are specially designed to provide allergy relief to both cats and humans. Typically, these brands are all-natural, fragrance-free, dust-free and are gentle to the skin and respiratory systems.
1. Dr. Elsey Premium Clumping Cat Litter (Best seller)
Dr.Elsey’s cat litter is one of the best premium cat litter brands on the market, and pet parents who have used these brands are mostly happy with it.
This brand is also one of the best-selling hypoallergenic cat litter brands. It has no plant proteins or common allergens like perfumes and other scents.
This brand has good clumping ability, and it prevents moisture from getting to the bottom of the litter box.
It forms hard clumps that hold together for a long time, and are easily scoopable. Dr. Elsey’s premium clumping cat litter also has strong odor control, and your house will hardly smell of litter.
Another thing that pet parents love about this brand is the low dust. Some customers have had success using this litter with cats that have problems with dust.
It has heavy granules with medium grains, and this helps to reduce tracking. This brand is ideal for sifting or mechanical litter boxes.
The only point of contention that we found with Dr.Elsey’s premium clumping cat litter concerns the clumps. While most customers are satisfied with how this litter clumps, some customers say that this brand does not clump as well as other brands.
2. Boxiecat Premium Clay Cat Litter
Boxiecat Premium cat litter is a 100% USA-made cat litter that is manufactured using natural materials.
This is a dust-free brand, unscented and one of the best hypoallergenic litter brands that you can get for your kitty. It forms hard clay lumps that keep the litter box quite clean even after several rounds of scooping.
Some pet parents who have used this brand appreciate its ability to eliminate ammonia odors in the litter box that may make the house a bit stuffy, especially if you leave in a smaller apartment.
Boxiecat premium cat litter is also tracking resistant, and you will rarely see pieces of litter scattered on your carpet. The granules are soft and fine to your cat's paws, but heavy enough to prevent tracking.
You can get this litter for both single and multi-cat households, by choosing between the 16lbs. and 28lbs bag, all at fair prices. The packaging bag is resealable for longevity, and it has a pour spout for controlled pouring.
Some cat parents who have purchased this brand complain that the price is slightly on the high-end, and costs somewhat higher than other comparable brands.
There are also suggestions to make the box lighter, since you may find it cumbersome if you have troubles lifting heavier objects.
3. CatSpot Litter 100% Coconut Cat Litter
With a high moisture absorbency, CatSpot coconut litter keeps the litter box dry for the longest time possible.
The granules are fine and light and are sensitive to your cat’s paws. This brand also helps in odor elimination, by absorbing and masking unpleasant smells.
This litter is biodegradable and is made from ground coconut shells, meaning it has zero chemicals that may affect the environment. Waste from this litter can be used as an additive to compost and backyard flower beds.
The only limitation with this litter is that it has tracking issues, the granules are light and this makes it track more easily. The tracking is, however, limited to a small section around where the litter box is kept.
4. Cat's Pride Fresh Ultimate Hypoallergenic Cat Litter (3-pack)
Cat’s Pride multi-cat 10-pound jug 3-pack is a cat litter that will last you and your cat several months. This litter is 99% dust-free, and this means that there are minimal dust clouds when pouring the litter into the box or during use.
A proprietary odor control technology in Cat's Pride keeps both the inside and outside the litter box smelling fresh and reduces bad smells.
This litter is also good at clumping. It forms hard clumps on top of the litter that are easy to scoop and dispose of hygienically. It is also tracking resistant since the granules are fine and they don’t stick to your cat’s paws.
The manufacturer says that this brand is 50% lighter compared to other brands in the market. It is ideal if you have back problems or you don’t like dealing with heavy litter boxes or bags.
Some customers who are unsatisfied with this brand say that this brand produces some dust, even though it a low-dust litter that most pet owners will hardly notice.
5. Dr.Elsey's Precious Respiratory Relief Clumping Cat Litter (2-pack)
Dr. Elsey’s Precious Respiratory Relief is specially prepared for cats with respiratory complications.
This brand is low-dust and it does not contain any plant proteins, perfumes, and deodorants, which are not friendly to cats and humans with respiratory issues. You can choose between the clay and silica formulas.
High water absorbency is a feature of Dr. Elsey’s Precious Respiratory Relief, keeping the litter box mostly dry. It also prevents moisture from getting to the bottom of the box, which prevents humidity in the litter box.
This litter forms hard clumps that remain at the top of the litter, and that are easy to scoop, keeping the litter box clean and without foul smells.
An essential addition to this hypoallergenic litter is the natural herbal essences, which helps in managing stress levels in cats.
Cats with respiratory complications often have high levels of stress, and this may worsen the condition. The herbal essence helps to manage the stress levels, and this forms part of the recovery process.
Some cat parents who bought and used Dr.Elsey’s Precious Respiratory Relief cat litter reported tracking issues. The granules can get attached to the cat feet as their cat left the litter box.
More About Allergies in Cats
If your little kitty cat isn’t looking so well, the first thing to do is visit a vet to make sure it’s not a more serious problem such as bronchitis. Most people are not trained vets, and it can be easy to misdiagnose your cat’s apparent health issue.
What Is Bronchitis in Cats?
This is a disease that causes inflammation of a cat’s airways and is also known as feline asthma. Without going into great detail, cat bronchitis causes them to have narrow airways due to inflammation and makes it harder for them to get enough oxygen in their lungs.
Symptoms of Bronchitis in Cats
If you have heard your cat wheezing when it breathes out, panting or breathing with an open mouth, then this could be a sign that you cat has bronchitis.
Also cats with bronchitis commonly have a dry sharp cough and stick their necks out (much like when they are hacking up a hairball) while coughing. You might also notice them having less energy.
How to reduce your cat’s allergy symptoms
In some ways our smoochy little companions are similar to us, and if you have suffered from allergies then it’s likely your body has reacted to many of the same allergens as the ones that cause cat allergies.
It’s not an easy process to find out what is causing your cat to exhibit allergy symptoms, and usually cat owners need to look at a few different possibilities before finding the main cause.
Cats with food allergies
If your cat has diarrhea and vomiting, it could be a sign of a food allergy. If you have recently changed their diet, or have added something new, then think carefully about the proteins in the new diet (fish, chicken, beef, lamb, etc), and whether any of these may be causing the problem. Try only giving them food with a protein they have regularly eaten without health problems in the past.
Cats with flea allergies
Fleas commonly cause allergic reactions in cats, and probably anything else they bite too!
Have you noticed your cat aggressively cleaning itself, or biting and chewing particular areas on their body? This is a regular sign of flea bites, and the irritation can affect your cat for up to 2-3 weeks after they are bitten.
If your cat is regularly outdoors, then it’s hard to stop them getting bitten by fleas, however there are flea control products available to stop or greatly reduce the problem.
Cats with pollen, dust mite or mold allergies
We all know how difficult it is to reduce dust in our environment, and it can come from a multitude of sources such as mold and mildew, grass, pollen, and cat litter as we have already discussed above.
Start by washing your cat’s toys and bedding and ensure this is done regularly. This will not only reduce dust mites and other allergens for your cat but will also help reduce allergens in your home giving you some allergy relief too.
You can also help reduce dust, pollen, and mold spore problems in your home with a high-grade HEPA air purifier, and by using a low dust producing unscented cat litter.
Another great way to clean around your home is with a steam cleaner, as these are very effective at removing mold from hard surface corners, walls, and grouting in shower recesses and bathrooms.
If you are a cigarette smoker, then the ash from cigarettes or ash trays can cause your cat problems. You may help reduce the problem by cleaning ash trays regularly or smoking outside more often - or dare I say it, think about quitting ...ouch!!
Cats with medication allergies
Do you regularly wash your cat or give them medication for fleas or other issues? Occasionally these substances can trigger allergy symptoms. If you suspect a medication problem then it’s best to speak to your vet about this to see if an alternative can be found.
Cats with perfume or cleaning product allergies
Do you use perfume, aftershave, or cologne, and regularly hold your cat close? These are strong smelling substances (especially to a cat) and can cause them problems with allergies. Maybe consider finding a less strongly scented perfume or using it more sparingly.
Keeping your house clean is great but guess what? ...even strong detergents can cause your cat allergies, especially if you feed them snacks directly on a recently cleaned hard surface floor.
Other potential contaminants could be air-freshener sprays, burning incense, or strongly scented flowers including pot-pourri.
Cats with allergies to particular surfaces
As if there weren’t enough things to think about with your cat’s allergy problems, you may also need to think about surfaces that your cat is regularly in contact with.
Maybe your cat has a favourite mat that is causing problems, or bedding washed with a strongly scented detergent or fabric softener.
Some cat’s also exhibit allergic reactions to plastic food bowls, and can develop spots similar to pimples around their mouth. If this is the case then try changing to porcelain or metal food and water bowls.
Phew! ...that’s a lot to take in. It can be difficult to locate the exact cause of the problem, or even if there is one. You may end up finding that your desperately hungry little furball friend is having a reaction to a general range of allergens rather than just one.
A good place to start is simply cleaning any obvious area of your house that will reduce dust, being careful not to leave excess detergent on surfaces.
Good luck with your investigations, your kitty will purr twice as loud when you finally solve their allergy problem!