Tired of your friends complaining about your cats when they visit? Or have a runny nose because of your own cat allergies?
There are some amazing air purifiers for cats available. They'll do everything from pull dander and hair out of the hair to remove the odor from urine and the dust from the litter.
I've identified the best purifiers available. Scroll on down to get cleaner air today!
Table of Contents
The Best Air Purifiers for Cats
#1 - Winix Ultimate Purifier for Cats
This truly is the ultimate air purifier for pets and it works amazingly well for cat allergens as well as cat odors. Most HEPA based filters don't do much for scents, but the Winix also includes a carbon filter to directly target odors.
On top of that, Winix was founded over 40 years ago with the simple goal of providing clean air and water to their customers. The Winix WAC9500 hits the nail right on the head for providing clean air!
A few major features worth calling out:
"This filter did a way better job than I expected. I don't even need to take my daily Claritin anymore because I can sleep without reactions!"
It is worth noting the following before making a purchase:
#2 - 6 in 1 Smart Filter for Pets
The Hathaspace 6 in 1 Smart filter is the perfect solution for allergy season, even if that season is year round in a cat filled households. It will also clean up other particles that bother asthma sufferers and ensure families have a safer air environment for their home.
It features a true HEPA filter that will remove 99.97% of impurities like dust mites, allergens, pet dander, pollen, mold, smoke, bacteria, viruses, and toxic chemicals. While the HEPA filter focuses on dander, there are 5 other stages designed to clean up the rest!
A few key features worth noting on this model:
"The Hathaspace not only removes dander, but is very effective at removing cat litter-box odors! It includes a nano-cold catalyst filter to pull ammonia, the biggest cause of litter box odor, out of the air!"
The only key drawback worth noting on this model is:
#3 - Levoit Large Room Purifier
If you've got a large room that you need to keep clean then this is definitely one of the best models to consider. Levoit specifically designed this model to go after rooms that are well over 300 square feet. Got a combination living room / kitchen? This is a great option!
Levoit has also taken into account that other models may produce trace amounts of pollutants like ozone during cleaning and decided to leave these filtration stages out of their purifier. This is one of the cleanest running purifiers on the market today.
A few other features you'll definitely want to note when considering this model:
"Pleasantly surprised by the automatic sensors. Every time I clean the litter box it kicks right into high mode and sucks up all the dust! It has been a miracle worker so far."
You'll want to keep the following in mind before you make a purchase:
#4 - TrueAir Budget Air Purifier
This model is a great option for folks on a budget. Made by Hamilton Beach it is designed to eliminate odors and eliminate the need to replace your HEPA filters on a recurring basis.
It features a permanent HEPA filter that can be vacuumed off which will save you a significant amount of money on replacement filters over the long haul. Do note the carbon based odor filters will still need to be replaced on a recurring basis if odor is an issue.
Here are a few of the other key features worth noting:
"Our 'office' constantly has tons of litter dust floating from our 3 cats. We bought this to help and boy has it done the job. No more dusty film floating around throughout the day!"
The key drawback to this model is:
#5 - BreatheSmart Customizable
If you've got an absolutely huge space and you want to customize your purifier to match your decor then the BreatheSmart can simply not be beat. It is designed to clean a massive amount of air and you can choose from a huge variety of colors.
On top of this the BreatheSmart is equipped with some of the most advanced technology on the market to ensure you get the cleanest and best smelling air possible from an air purifier. There are various options to choose from depending on what you need to clean!
You'll definitely want to check out the following features:
"Made a significant difference for my asthmatic son with our 14 year old cat. We couldn't give her up after having her since a kitten, but our son was struggling even with our girl restricted to the basement. The BreatheSmart made a huge difference, no more emergency inhaler use in the house!"
One key item worth noting on this model is the following:
#6 - Germ Guardian Air Filter
The Germ Guardian is an air purifier created by Guardian Technologies. Guardian has their products checked for authenticity and validation by Verifide, a trusted 3rd party, to ensure they meet all standards! Talk about wanting to build consumer trust, Guardian is top notch at this.
The Germ Guardian has a 3 layer filtration system to focus on different types of filtration ensuring you get the cleanest air possible. This model is also Energy Star Certified and Carb Compliant meaning it is one of the most energy efficient models available.
A couple of other key items worth noting about this model:
"My cat has extra pungent urine, it sometimes permeates the entire house. I put this right next to the litter box and it sucked the smell right out of the air! Finally, a clean smelling house again!"
One key concern about this model that you'll want to consider
#7 - Fragrance Diffuser & Purifier
If you're looking to not only clean your air, but add a scent to it, then PARTU has quite the invention for you. This model is designed to suck all the allergens out of the air with a two stage carbon/HEPA filters, so it does a great job cleaning the air.
But as an added bonus, as it sends clean air back out you can add a fragrance to your air. Simply purchase a fragrance (essential oils work great) you like and drop it right onto the built in sponge to have outgoing air pass through it. Want your home to smell like an ocean breeze, simply add a few drops and you'll think you're on the beach in no time!
A few other key items worth noting about this model:
#8 - Quiet Care Air Purifier
HoneyWell has been in the home appliance and electronics space for decades and is known for making great products. The QuietCare 17000-S is an excellent air purifier designed to provide a safe breathing environment by eliminating dust, pollen, mold, spores, tobacco and of course cat dander!
A couple of other key items worth noting about this model:
"My wife bought this to place next to the litter box in the 'cat room' and it has done a great job of reducing litter dust and sucking up massive amounts of cat fur. We give it two thumbs up!"
Worth noting the following before making a purchase:
Cat Allergies Overview
Americans & Cat Allergies
Nearly a third of Americans with allergies are allergic to cats or dogs. Unfortunately, twice as many people have cat allergies as compared to those that have dog allergies.
If you've already got a cat in your home determining the cause of your allergies can be even more difficult because it isn't a controlled environment. Not only do you have allergens that come from cats, but you also have molds, mildews, dust mites and all sorts of other things that can cause similar issues.
If you're not 100% sure you have an allergy to cats then you should definitely go to the doctor and have a test performed to determine what you are and aren't allergic to. This will verify exactly what the cause is.
Causes of Cat Allergies
Allergies in general are caused by your body attacking a foreign substance. This is exactly what your immune system does when it is fighting off a cold or even a bacterial infection.
In the case of allergies though your body is making a mistake and identifying something that isn't harmful as a dangerous substance and attacking it by producing antibodies. This then causes all sorts of symptoms from a runny nose to difficulty breathing.
While most people tend to believe that cat hair is the most common cause of cat allergies, it is in fact typically caused by cat dander. Dander is basically dead skin from your cat and they shed it just like we humans shed our skin particles on a daily basis.
Pet dander tends to be the most prominent allergen and you don’t have to own a cat or even have seen one to have a reaction either.
Dander is lightweight and is easily carried or from place to place in the air or it can travel on people’s clothes. Generally though, signs of a cat allergy usually follow shortly after you come in contact with cat dander, saliva, or urine.
Note that cat saliva has a specific protein in it that most commonly causes the allergic reaction, it is called Fel D1 and you can read more about it here on Wikipedia.
Pet hair is actually not an allergen, it is typically considered an allergen because it gets pet dander or other allergens on it that then cause a reaction.
Pet allergens can stay active as allergens for extended periods of time, sometimes even for several months. The allergens cling to walls, furniture, clothing and other surfaces and upon contact can cause a reaction.
The most common symptoms experienced by people allergic to cats are swelling and itching of the eyes and nose which usually causes a stuffy or runny nose. Some may also develop a rash wherever the allergen came into contact with the body. Fatigue is also something people with cat allergies commonly experience.
If you happen to breathe in the allergens, in particularly dander, you can also experience difficulty breathing as well as coughing or wheezing. Asthma attacks mat take place in more extreme cases.
Many people with asthma have a severe attack upon interacting with cats so if you're a cat owner you should be extra careful in notifying new friends of your cats before they come to your house the first time.
The cat allergen that over 90 percent of people with cat allergies react to comes from cat saliva and skin. It’s found in higher levels on male cats and is transferred to a cat’s fur during grooming.
Treating Cat Allergies
There are many ways to treat cat allergies, here are a few of the most common:
- Avoid interactions with the allergens at all costs, basically don't have or interact with cats
- Minimize the number of allergens:
- Keep your cats restricted to specific rooms
- Get an excellent air purifier with a HEPA filter
- Have your family brush your cats daily
- Hire someone to brush your cat's teeth
- Get an automatic litter box & wear gloves when scooping
- If you're still experiencing symptoms you can explore these options:
- Antihistamines like Benadryl are good options for one off experiences
- Antihistamines like Claritin or Zyrtec are better for ongoing interactions
- Nasal sprays such like Flonase may work for both short term or extended relief
- Allergy shots may help desensitize you to an allergen over the long term
Nasal irrigation is a home remedy for many things, including the treatment of of cat allergies. You basically use water to rinse your nasal passages out. Generally you use salt water for this process.
While there are a ton of brands out there for nasal irrigation, the most common you'll find is a Neti Pot. This article on WebMD will give you extensive details on how to create the salt water and perform the process.
Acupuncture, probiotics and some herbal supplements have also shown some ability to improve the symptoms of allergies. While there hasn't been any research into the specifics for pet allergies, it may be worth considering these options if you've not had luck with other treatments.
Reducing the Impact of Cat Allergies
Hands down, the best option to reduce the impact of allergies is to avoid whatever causes them. This might mean you shouldn't adopt or interact with cats.
If you've already got a feline friend though it leaves you in a more precarious position. You'll most likely have no interest in getting rid of your kitty friend so you'll need to do your best to reduce the impact of the allergens!
While having someone else perform key tasks (feeding/brushing/scooping/petting) will certainly help, you'll want to take things a step farther. Some of these strategies may help your allergy:
If you have a severe cat allergy, talk to your doctor about immunotherapy for a long-term treatment solution.
Diagnosing Cat Allergies
Before making any rash decisions regarding your feline friend and a suspected allergy you'll first want to verify it is indeed the cat that is causing your reactions! There are a couple of different ways to go about testing which are each detailed below.
If you decide to move forward with a test you'll want to call an allergist and schedule an appointment and provide details on why you're having the test done. Be sure to ask if there are any potential side effects from medication you're currently taking as well.
There key types of allergy testing are usually bucketed into these three categories, ordered from the most common to the least common.
Skin Prick Tests
This is a very generic allergy test and can be used for almost any allergen you can think of. It works on the simple premise of sticking a small amount of a potential allergen onto your skin with a needle and waiting to see what happens.
You’ll typically be tested for several allergens at the same time. The first time I had this done I had 15 different allergens tested at once. I was being tested for mold, not cat allergies though!
Your doctor will likely test other potential culprits instead of just cat dander to identify the cause of your allergies. You'll also get a control to ensure that there aren't any false positives.
If any allergies are identified the site usually swells or starts to itch like crazy which shows you're allergic. Fortunately the amount of allergen used is tiny and the effect will usually go away quickly.
Intradermal Skin Testing
As opposed to simply pricking the skin with a needle, intradermal testing actually injects the allergens under the skin. This can cause the same allergic reactions that you'd see from a skin prick test.
Unfortunately injecting foreign substances under your skin tends to cause more reactions than simple pin pricks, this can lead to falsely identifying allergens where none exist.
Similar to any other blood test, your doctor will draw blood and send it to a lab for testing. This is most commonly done for people that have a skin condition that makes the other methods difficult to use.
The key drawback to this method is that sending blood away to a lab takes significantly longer. On the bright side though there is no risk of an allergic reaction during a blood test because the allergens are only exposed once the blood is drawn.
For more details on any of these methods please visit HealthLine.
What is a HEPA Filter?
HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air and a HEPA filter is specifically designed to pull way more particles out of the air than traditional air filters on the market.
The most important thing to know about HEPA filters is that they filter out 99.97% of particles that have a size greater than or equal to 0.3 µm. They do this by building a mat of randomly arranged fibers, typically made of fiberglass and between 0.5 and 2.0 micrometers in diameter.
Unlike a traditional air filter, HEPA filters don't work like a sieve where the holes simple stop things bigger than the hole from going through. Instead these filters are designed to cause particles to stick to the fibers as they pass by, thus removing them from the airflow.
Note that while HEPA filters are designed to pull out fine particles, they do nothing to remove odors or scents out of the air like a carbon filter. Given this don't expect a HEPA air filter to clean up the scent in your bathroom or near your cat's litter box.
One of the most important things to note about HEPA filters is the following quote.
"Products that claim to be "HEPA-type", "HEPA-like", "HEPA-style" or "99% HEPA" do not satisfy these requirements and may not have been tested in independent laboratories. Some of these sub-par quality filters may come reasonably close to HEPA filtration, while others will fall significantly short, making them truly inferior." - Air Purifier Power.com
Wikipedia has far more detail on HEPA filters if you desire to read it.
What Are HEPA Filters Used For?
There are three common places you'll find HEPA filters used in relation to cat allergies. Each place can impact air quality in the house and if you have any severe allergies you should consider all three.
Air purifiers are one of the most common places you'll find a HEPA filter in use. Each purifier usually has a filter that can be replaced on a recurring basis after it is completely filled with particles.
You'll want to consider that an air purifier is usually only good for a room of about 200-300 square feet. This means if you've got multiple rooms in your home then you'll need multiple air purifiers running all the time to get the job done.
Heating & Cooling Filters
If you have gas forced air or a traditional air conditioner of any kind then you've typically got a single centralized air flow system in your home. These can actually be very problematic for cat allergies because dander gets into the air and the system blows it all over the house.
Inserting a HEPA filter into the air flow can make a significant impact on decreasing the amount of cat dander floating around your home. You generally need a filter to keep your equipment running smoothly anyway, inserting a HEPA rated filter can be incredibly helpful.
Every time you run the vacuum in your house you are undoubtedly sucking up loads of cat dander along with the fur. While you certainly don't need a HEPA filter to suck up cat hair, you might as well capitalize on the fact that air is flowing through the vacuum and trap the cat dander at the same time.
HEPA filters can be found in both traditional vacuums of all shapes and sizes and they can be found in robot vacuums. If you're running a robot vacuum every single day you'll notice a huge decrease in your symptoms by using a model equipped with a HEPA filter.
What is a CADR Rating?
CADR stands for Clean Air Delivery Rate. It is basically a numeric value assigned to an air purifier based on tests performed for the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.
CADR is a way for consumers to see an apples to apples comparison of how effective an air purifier is at reducing these three key items in the air:
- Tobacco smoke
You won't find CADR numbers for any other items at the time of writing this (12/30/2018). The easiest way to interpret these numbers is that higher is better. But there are ranges available for them as well:
- Tobacco smoke ranges from 10-450 CADR
- Pollen ranges from 10-400 CADR
- Dust ranges from 25-450 CADR
It is worth noting that if you're looking at large scale household based purifiers that you won't find a CADR score for them because it is only applicable to portable filters.
Unfortunately there is no rating for cat dander or pet dander, but the closest association is dust since household dust is largely made up of human dander.
For more information you can reference this great article from AirPurifierGuide.com.
Are There Hypoallergenic Cats?
The sad fact is there is no such thing as a 100% hypoallergenic cat. While some breeds may be less likely to cause allergic reactions than others, there are no breeds that will completely avoid all potential allergens.
Many articles like this one from HomeOAnimal call out a list of "hypoallergenic" cats. Note that they do specifically say no cats are completely allergen free, but the article is misleading because of the title and the way that we humans consume information.
In short, some cats shed less hair and some produce less of the Fel D1 protein that is most commonly found in cat saliva and causes allergic reaction. But no cat is completely immune to causing allergic reactions and if you've got an allergy you shouldn't assume you're safe by adopting a cat like this.
Reference: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
Wrap Up on Air Purifiers For Cats
If you've got a cat allergy based on cat dander or if you've got friends at family that are allergic then an air purifier can certainly help minimize the impact of cat dander.
While no cat is hypoallergenic and no single air filter can clear your house of every bit of cat dander, purifiers certainly provide an added benefit, especially if they are kept in the rooms you spend the most time in.
If you've got a cat allergy or know someone who does then let us know how an air purifier or filter has helped them combat their reactions! Please leave a comment below.
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