Most people are not allergic to the cat or dog itself. What they are allergic to is the dander, pollen, dust and so on that accumulates on the animal's fur. Especially in the case of animals that regularly go outside.
I avoid all this by doing two things.
1. My cats are indoor only cats in order to limit their exposure to allergens.
2. I routinely give them baths to remove the dander that accumulates.
Yes, you read that correctly. I bathe my cats. Every cat I have ever had has had regular baths since kittenhood. I always know when the next bath is due because my eyes start itching and watering. Generally I bathe Max and Tilly about once a month.
And now you too can bathe your cat based upon these simple instructions:
In order for the process to go as smoothly as possible, you must first prepare the bath area.
Start by selecting a cat shampoo at your local pet supply store. Animals have a different pH balance in their skin. Using shampoo intended for a person can cause dry skin and irritation. I use a shampoo I brought from the United States that comes complete with a hairball remedy in the formula. If you do not have this kind of shampoo, I would suggest you purchase a separate hairball remedy.
Pet shampoo is available in Europe as well. I found some at Qualipet in Switzerland, but it did not come with the hairball remedy already in it.
On the day of the bath, prepare your house. If it is a cool day, turn up the heat slightly. Your cats will be cold when wet. Also, remove access to the litter box, especially if you have clumping litter, until your cat is completely dry. Trust me on this!
Next lay out some large, fluffy, very absorbent towels next to the bath location. As we have two cats, I always have two bath towels ready to go.
The final preparation is to ready the bath. I use the kitchen sink as it uses the least amount of water and suds necessary. Very important consideration if there is a struggle as less water equals less mess. I thoroughly clean the sink both before and after the bath.
Fill the sink with warm water. It should be slightly warmer than room temperature, but not hot. Squirt some shampoo directly into the water as it is pouring to create suds.
Once the bath is ready, carefully lower the cat into the sink. I suggest doing it quickly so they have less time to react.
Scoop up handfuls of water and suds and massage into your cat all over except the face and ears.
At this stage your cat may begin to emit sounds you have never heard before. Do not worry. Despite the cat's belief, this process will not kill them.
After you have finished shampooing the body, take small amounts of water (no suds) in your hand and carefully wash the face and around the ears. Make certain you do not put water directly into the cat's eyes or ears.
Lift the cat out of the water with one hand while the other hand slicks as much of the water and suds off as possible. Rinsing the cat is not necessary as long as you have used a shampoo formulated for cats.
Lay the cat down on the towel and quickly wrap it up as if swaddling a baby.
When you are finished, only the cat's face should be visible. Hold your cat this way for a few minutes to absorb as much of the water into the towel as possible.
Then unwrap the cat slightly and use the drier end of the towel to rub him/her until the cat is more damp than wet.
At this time it is permissible to laugh as the cat awkwardly walks away, trying desperately to find it's dignity.
The cat will immediately find a quiet spot and lick him/herself all over until it is satisfied that s/he has removed all trace of the offensive shampoo (and hairball remedy!)
When it is mostly dry, give your cat a thorough brushing. The shampooing process will have slightly dislodged a lot of hair, giving the cat an odd, scruffy appearance. Brushing the fur will remove most of that hair, thus restoring the cat's appearance and hopefully preventing excessive shedding all over your furniture. If your cat has a very thick coat of fur, it may need a second brushing an hour or so later.
A special thanks to Max and Tilly, our somewhat unwilling volunteers in the demonstration process. Thanks also to GLH who took the photographs.