The 5 Best Antihistamines For Cat Allergies

Cats August 13, 2019
best cat antihistamines

The 5 Best Antihistamines For Cat Allergies

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best cat antihistamines

The best antihistamines for cat allergies reduce symptoms while leaving you clear-headed and feeling energetic. 

That’s why I’ve chosen Allegra 24-Hour gel caps as the best antihistamine for cat allergies. The active ingredient relieves allergy symptoms without making you feel sluggish or causing other side effects. The caps are easy to swallow and get positive customer reviews. 

The question here isn’t which antihistamine is best for people who are allergic to cats—the question is which antihistamine is good for you.

Every body reacts to antihistamines in a different way. Some people might get drowsy on Allegra and others might love Benadryl, but it’s hard to predict which one will work for you until you try it. 

To make the search easier for you, this guide explains the differences between popular antihistamines and explores which types work best for unique needs. 

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Fast-acting formula provides allergy relief within an hour of dosing
  • Gel caps are easy to dose and swallow
  • Extraordinarily non-drowsy
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  • One of the top-rated and most trusted antihistamines on the market
  • A non-drowsy product
  • Quick-dissolve tablets are easy to take
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  • Non-drowsy for most users
  • Affordable
  • Most people find it highly effective in relieving cat allergy symptoms
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  • Proven to relieve eye itchiness for up to 12 hours
  • Doesn’t contain vasoconstrictors
  • Is safe for kids and adults ages 3 and up
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  • Fast-acting formula
  • One of the most trusted, effective products on the market
  • Works for 24 hours after each dose
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How Do Antihistamines For Cat Allergies Work?

All cats secrete potentially-allergenic proteins in their saliva, urine, and skin. At roughly 1/10th the size of a dust allergen, these microscopic particles are invisible and tenacious. They become airborne and hide in the environment for up to 6 months after a cat has passed through. 

Most people can come into contact with these proteins without having any problems, but for 5-10% of the population, exposure to them triggers cold or flu-like symptoms that include sneezing, itchy eyes, sore throat, coughing, and a runny nose. 

The immune system and a chemical called histamine are responsible for these reactions. When the body comes into contact with something it perceives as an irritant—like Fel-D1 proteins—it releases histamine, an organic compound present throughout the body and concentrated in the skin, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract.

When histamine attaches to histamine receptors in the body, it initiates the itchiness, redness, and other symptoms associated with an allergic reaction. 

As inverse agonists, antihistamines bind to histamine receptors, effectively creating the opposite effect of histamine.

We can divide antihistamines into two groups—the old generation and the new generation.

The older generation of antihistamines was developed in the 1940s. These antihistamines are not selective about which receptors they target and cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning that they are very likely to cause drowsiness.

Types of Old Generation Antihistamines for Cat Allergies:

  • Chlorpheniramine (ChlorTrimeton)
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
  • Promethazine (Phenergan)
  • Hydroxyzine (Vistaril)

The next generation of antihistamines entered the market in the 1980s. These second-generation antihistamines cross the blood-brain barrier much less than do older antihistamines, making them less sedating.

Types of New Generation Antihistamines for Cat Allergies:

  • Loratadine (Claritin)
  • Cetirizine (Zyrtec)
  • Levocetirizine (Xyzal)
  • Fexofenadine (Aller-ease, Allegra)

As long as you choose a non-drowsy product that doesn’t contain acetaminophen, all of these antihistamines are safe for both occasional and frequent use. They’re appropriate whether you use them once a year when visiting a cat-owning friend or every day while living with a cat of your own.

Best Antihistamines For Cat Allergies: Our Top 5 Picks

Overall Best: Allegra Allergy 24 Hour Gel Caps

Product Info:

  • Active Ingredient: 180 mg Fexofenadine Hydrochloride 
  • Appropriate for Ages: 12 years and older
  • Format: Gel caps
  • Key Strength: Non-drowsy
  • Cost per Dose: $0.41

Pros:

  • Fast-acting formula provides allergy relief within an hour of dosing
  • Continues to minimize allergy symptoms for 24 hours after you take the capsule
  • Gel caps are easy to dose and swallow
  • Extraordinarily non-drowsy

Cons:

  • One of the more expensive antihistamines on the market

If feeling sharp is your top priority, fexofenadine is the antihistamine for you. Researchers have noted that this drug is consistently the least sedating of the new-generation antihistamines. Its grogginess-free performance has made it a recommended product for “airline pilots and others in safety-critical occupations.”

This antihistamine is available in both gel caps and traditional tablets, but the gel caps are easier to swallow. The fast-acting formula will start to provide relief within an hour after you take the gel cap. It continues to work for 24 hours after dosage, relieving sneezing, itchiness, runny nose, and fatigue associated with cat allergies.

Fexofenadine was originally only sold under the brand name Allegra, but generic versions have been available since 2011. If price is a priority, you might consider the generic versions from Target, Walmart, and other stores.

Runner Up: Claritin Non-Drowsy 24-Hour Relief Reditabs

Product Info:

  • Active Ingredient: 10 mg Loratadine
  • Appropriate for Ages: 6 years and up
  • Format: Tablets
  • Key Strength: Quick-dissolving tablets eliminate the need to swallow a pill
  • Cost per Dose: $0.32

Pros:

  • One of the top-rated and most trusted antihistamines on the market
  • A non-drowsy product
  • Quick-dissolve tablets are easy to take
  • Highly effective for cat allergies and other allergies
  • Moderate price

Cons:

  • Some people experience drowsiness after taking loratadine

Our top pick is an effective crowd favorite, but it doesn’t work for everyone. If you don’t find the antihistamine for you on the first try, you may have to sample a variety before settling on a product for long-term use. 

This loratadine-based product is recommended by Amazon as the best antihistamine on the market. Loratadine was developed in the 1980s and was originally intended to be the first-ever non-drowsy antihistamine. 

Claritin gets good customer reviews and is generally regarded as a non-drowsy, side-effect-free product that provides relief without weighing you down. One dose relieves itchiness, sneezing, and other symptoms for 24 hours.

Instead of traditional tablets that you swallow whole, these are Reditabs that dissolve in your mouth. This makes them ideal for people who can’t swallow pills.

Though most customer reviews are positive, some people experience a variety of side effects.  

Best Affordable: GoodSense All Day Allergy Cetirizine HCl Tablets

Product Info:

  • Active Ingredient: 10mg Cetirizine Hydrochloride
  • Appropriate for Ages: 6 years and up
  • Format: Tablet
  • Key Strength: A fast-acting antihistamine at a great price
  • Cost per Dose: $0.04 to $0.33

Pros:

  • Non-drowsy for most users
  • Affordable
  • Most people find it highly effective in relieving cat allergy symptoms

Cons:

  • May not be as effective as its name-brand equivalent

This generic antihistamine is made with cetirizine hydrochloride, the active ingredient in Zyrtec. The antihistamine is known for rapid relief with minimal drowsiness. Though generally regarded as a non-drowsy antihistamine, cetirizine causes drowsiness in about 15% of users.

Each tablet provides 24 hours of relief from sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and other symptoms associated with cat allergies.

Though the product receives generally positive reviews, some customers say that it’s not as effective as its name-brand equivalent, Zyrtec. 

Best Eye Drops: Zaditor Antihistamine Eye Drops

Product Info:

  • Active Ingredient: Ketotifen
  • Appropriate for Ages: 3 years and up
  • Format: Eye Drops
  • Key Strength: Targets eye itchiness without side effects
  • Cost per Dose: $0.42

Pros:

  • Proven to relieve eye itchiness for up to 12 hours
  • Doesn’t contain vasoconstrictors
  • Is safe for kids and adults ages 3 and up
  • Non-drowsy with virtually no side effects

Cons:

  • Doesn’t address all allergy symptoms

If your primary cat allergy symptom is itchy eyes, you might consider using eye drops as a complement or alternative to your traditional antihistamines. These drops are 0.35% ketotifen fumarate, an antihistamine that helps to relieve itchiness for 12 hours. Unlike many antihistamine eye drops, Zaditor doesn’t contain a vasoconstrictor and is safe for kids and adults ages 3 years and older. 

The drops won’t stop a runny nose or clear congestion, but they appear to do an excellent job of soothing itchy eyes. 

Best for Immediate Relief: Zyrtec 24 Hour Allergy Relief

Product Info:

  • Active Ingredient: 10 mg Cetirizine Hydrochloride
  • Appropriate for Ages: 6 years and up
  • Format: Small Tablets
  • Key Strengths: Fast-acting formula
  • Cost per Dose: $0.58

Pros:

  • Fast-acting formula
  • One of the most trusted, effective products on the market
  • Works for 24 hours after each dose
  • Non-drowsy with minimal side effects

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Makes some people feel drowsy

This fast-acting antihistamine is one to keep in your bag in case you find yourself in a cat-inclusive home and need rapid relief. The antihistamine works faster than fexofenadine and continues to provide relief for 24 hours after each dose.

You’ll need to take it a couple of times before it starts working really well. Zyrtec says that it works hard during the first hour and harder the next time you take a dose.

The active ingredient, cetirizine hydrochloride, is a relatively non-drowsy antihistamine, though it comes with a slightly higher risk of drowsiness when compared to fexofenadine.

Antihistamines are the best way to get rapid relief, but controlling your cat allergies is best achieved with a mix of treatments.

In addition to antihistamines, your treatment options include nasal steroid sprays, decongestants, leukotriene inhibitors, and, for long-lasting correction, allergy shots. 

And you can do more than treat yourself. If you have a cat in your household, you can also treat him and the environment. Using an air purifier can reduce the number of allergens that remain airborne in your home, and it’s also worth checking out the Kittyexpert blog to learn and become mindful of the side effects of secondhand smoke on cats. Regularly bathing your cat—or asking someone else to take on the chore—can also help to reduce the amount of allergenic dander he distributes. 

Mallory Crusta

Mallory Crusta is a blogger and adventurecat enthusiast who brings you the facts about cat products, wellness, and care. She's the co-founder of Wildernesscat, a resource for savvy cat guardians who want to give their felines richer, healthier lives. Visit Wildernesscat for product reviews, radically natural nutrition tips, and lifestyle inspiration
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