Being a cat person or a dog person really comes down to personal preference. But let’s bypass opinions on loyalty, intelligence and even general cuddliness for a moment, and focus on the facts: How does living with canines or felines affect the air your family breathes? And how do their effects compare?
Contrary to popularly held belief, it’s not cat or dog hair that are allergens. It’s a combination of pet dander, which is tiny flecks of shed skin; and proteins found in the animal’s saliva. (Urine and feces, too.) When pets groom themselves, the saliva dries, then eventually flakes off into the air.
Those tiny particles float around your home and settle on furniture, bedding and other fabrics.
All dogs and cats, regardless of size or breed, are sending potentially problematic particles into the air. It’s what they’re actually made of that differs. The commonly allergenic proteins a dog deposits as it licks are called the Can f I and Can f II, and in cats, it’s the Fel d I*.
Much like the animals that produce them, these proteins behave differently. The feline Fel d I is smaller, lighter and stickier than the Can f canine proteins, so it lingers longer in the air and more easily clings to furniture and fabrics.
If you’re thinking cat proteins that excel at lingering and clinging sound as if they could be especially troublesome, you are correct**.
But let’s be honest. The love cat and dog owners feel for their pets tends to outweigh any allergens they carry. To minimize those, take steps to control the pet dander in your home’s air, including keeping the bedroom pet-free and using a high-quality, allergen-capturing air filter in your HVAC system or room air purifier device, or both.