Health Effects of Breathing Cat Urine and Feces

Do you or one or someone who lives in your home always cough, sneeze, or get itchy, watery eyes while near the cat litter box?

If so, you should know that there are allergens in cat urine that trigger these reactions. Since you likely don’t want to give away your furry family member(s), you can take some steps to protect yourself and your family from cat urine allergens.

What is FEL-D-1?

There are three allergens that can be scientifically detected in cat urine. FEL-D-1 is the most prolific cat allergen, as it occurs in the urine as well as in cat dander. This protein is naturally made within cats and is only detectable underneath a microscope.

When you get close to a cat litter box, what you are inhaling is FEL-D-1. These tiny particles make their way from the litter box, through the air, and into your airways, where they can trigger those pesky allergic reactions.

Cat Urine Ammonia Poisoning

When you breathe in cat urine, you are breathing in the approximately 0.05 percent ammonia that makes up a healthy cat’s urine.

People who are exposed to high concentrations of ammonia from cat urine can develop breathing problems, excessive amounts of phlegm, toxoplasmosis (an infectious disease caused by a parasite that is harmful to pregnant women), and even pneumonia.

Of course, children are at a heightened risk for developing these issues since they have a low body weight ratio.

There have been a lot of rumors circulating that ammonia is a potential carcinogen, meaning that it would be able to cause cancer.

To date, scientific studies have yielded no evidence that ammonia is a cancer-causing carcinogen. It is, however, a pretty common allergen that, even when used in a household cleaning substance, can trigger allergic reactions.

Can a Person Be Allergic to Cat Urine?

Not everyone reacts the same way to inhaling the chemicals from cat urine. Those who have allergic reactions have immune systems that are overly sensitive to these chemicals.

So, how are you supposed to know if you are allergic to cat urine? There are several common symptoms that you should pay attention to. Also, the closer you stand to a litter box, the more likely you are to experience these symptoms in a more obvious and profound way.

Symptoms of an allergy to cat urine include red, itchy, and irritated eyes that might feel like they are constantly in burning pain. Also, you might break out into hives or even a rash across your face or upper torso area.

Even if you don’t have allergies, being around cat urine all the time can leave you feeling lightheaded and dizzy. It can even cause you to experience a sore throat, vomiting, and even elevate your heart rate.

Ways to Prevent Exposure

It is entirely possible to maintain a clean and healthy household with a cat litter box or two in it. However, doing so is going to take a little bit of work. Preventing exposure means – you guessed it – a lot of cleaning.

Keep Litter Boxes Tidy

If you have multiple cats, you have your work cut out for you when it comes to tidying up your felines’ litter boxes. All litter boxes within the home should be cleaned at least once per day and refilled with fresh, high-quality cat litter.

Are your allergies to cat urine so severe that you fear scooping out the litter box? If so, don’t hesitate to wear protective gear (like a surgical mask and gloves). You might look like you’re handling delicate bio-hazardous material, but you will save yourself the trouble of breathing some of that ammonia into your lungs.

One of the best methods you can use to help decrease the chances that litter will spill out while you are cleaning the cat litter box is to use a litter tray liner. These liners can be bought in most stores that sell pet products and can be replaced with each scooping.

You also need to think about what type of cat litter you are using. The inexpensive clay cat litter does not do much to trap and neutralize cat urine smells. This leaves you more prone to picking up on the stench of ammonia near the litter box.

Instead of getting the traditional cat litter, consider switching to cedar sawdust or pine litter. Pine litter is especially effective at absorbing the urine you cat leaves in the litter box. It is also best able to nuke that nasty ammonia scent.

Cleaning Up Cat Urine

Not all cats are able (or willing, as the case may be) to do their business in their litter boxes. If your feline family member is urinating outside of their litter box, you should take extra precaution while cleaning up.

Make sure you dry up the area by blotting a paper towel or dishcloth on the surface of the floor. If you rub it (especially if it is on carpet), this will ground the urine in even more.

You can use several safe and effective cleaning solutions to clean up outside of the litter box. Vinegar that is 20 to 25 percent diluted in water can be helpful, as can mixing baking soda, peroxide, and water.

These do not have the chemical irritants you find in many pet urine cleaning products and typically do not trigger allergic reactions.

Steer Clear of Ammonia-Based Cleaning Products

If you are allergic to cat urine, using an ammonia-based cleaning product to clean out a cat litter box or a pee spot on the floor will only make things worse. Ammonia added to ammonia only makes its presence stronger, not weaker.

It only takes a few minutes each day to ensure the cleanliness of your cat’s litter box. If you are allergic to cat urine, it is essential that you do your best to keep litter boxes fresh. Your cat and your allergies will thank you for it.

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