Asthma is a major bummer, especially if you’re a cat. If you’re owned by an asthma cat you may have asked yourself ‘are air purifiers worth it?’. Asthma affects about 1% of the general cat population and about 1 in 12 humans. Chances are, you know someone – or some cat – who is asthmatic.
There’s not a whole lot of information available specifically about the benefits of air purifiers for cats with asthma. However, it is widely acknowledged that purified air is good for the wheezy and I do know a thing or two about wheezy cats, so I’m going to mash the two together in my brain and give you the lowdown.
What Causes Asthma in Cats?
Asthma in cats is the same disease as asthma in humans. That is, a respiratory condition that causes spasms of the bronchi in the lungs, often connected with an allergic reaction or hypersensitivity. Basically, the air you breathe could be trying to kill you. Sounds like not much fun, huh?
Feline asthma (and human asthma) is a chronic, long-lasting condition. While it is not something kitties are born with, asthma cats probably have a genetic tendency that causes their lungs to be shonky. Asthma attacks are provoked by triggers that differ from cat to cat and can include dust, pollen, smoke, mold spores and pet dander.
Yes, pet dander. Your asthma cat could be allergic to himself.
What do Air Purifiers do?
The idea of air purifying, although it seems like a new innovation, has been around for over 200 years. Think of firemen in the olden days – they used a protective mask over their face to filter out the smoke and other airborne nasties when they were fighting fires. These days, there are many different types of air purifiers that clean the air in different ways, depending on their technology.
IQAir HealthPro Plus is the “mother of all air purifiers”. Read my review here.
- Air filters use fine sieve-like filters to remove particles from the air. The more times the air passes through the filter, the cleaner it will be. The efficacy of this method of air purifying depends largely on the quality of the filter used. High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters have set the accepted benchmark for air filters, guaranteeing to remove 99.97% of airborne particles bigger than 0.3 microns.
- UV technology doesn’t filter airborne particles but is more useful for cleaning the air of viruses, bacteria and general germs. This type of air purifying is best used with a HEPA filter to first trap particles before converting molecules of oxygen and water in the air into ozone and hydroxyl.
- Negative ion air purifiers clean the air emitting negative ions. Ions are naturally occurring particles with either a negative or positive charge. Negative ions magnetically attract particles in the air and attach themselves, until the particle is too heavy to remain in the air and falls to a surface. This means the particles are no longer in the air, but on your stuff and they could well become airborne again.
- Ozone air purifiers produce the gas ozone in varying amounts depending on the device. Ozone is not only harmful, the reaction it has with chemicals in indoor environments can take months or years to take effect, making them pretty useless as far as air purifiers go.
Do I Need an Air Purifier?
Unless you live in the middle of nowhere, chances are there’s some kind of pollution in your inside air. Even if you live in the middle of nowhere, there’s still going to be stuff in your air. Air purifiers, especially those with a HEPA filter, can remove irritating particles from the air and may help to ease the symptoms of asthma.
If you have a forced-air heating and/or cooling system in your home, consider a whole house purifying system – this is basically a super filter that is used instead of the standard filter in your furnace. While some of these can be installed DIY style, the thicker (and better) filters will need to be installed by a professional.
Portable Room Air Purifiers
These are designed to clean the air in a single room in your home. The first thing to take into account when deciding to buy a portable air purifier is the size of the space you want to purify. If the room or space is too large for your chosen purifier to clean the air completely every 4-6 minutes, you might as well not bother. In this case, there may be some benefit to moving the device into a smaller space – close to where your asthma cat likes to sleep, for example – and running it only when necessary.
You also need to consider the cost of running your air purifier and replacing the filters. Shop for an energy efficient device with affordable replacement filters that you can switch out yourself to keep costs down. As discussed earlier, there are several different methods that air purifiers use to clean your air – make sure you’re using the right technology for your situation, as the wrong method could be ineffective or even harmful.
Read more about the mother of all air purifiers here.
The Best Air Purifiers For Asthma Cats
Each case of asthma is different, just as every asthma cat is different. Common triggers such as dust, pollen and smoke can irritate the airways and bring about an asthma attack; an air filtration device with a HEPA filter will help to remove these microscopic particles from the air.
Air purifiers that use UV or negative ion technology often produce ozone, which is not good news for asthmatics. Ozone is handy in the environment for protecting us from UV rays, but at ground level, it can be an extremely powerful and harmful lung irritant. Obviously, this is something we all want to avoid, but it is especially dangerous for those with asthma. Any air purifying device that produces ozone should be avoided like the plague.
Cat safety and general pet friendliness should also be taken into consideration when shopping for an air purifying device. It needs to be stable enough to stay standing should it come under attack from a fast moving cat (or am I the only one whose cat crashes into stationary objects?) and quiet enough that it won’t bother you or spook the kitty.
What’s your take on air purifying…is it worth it, or not? Has it made a difference for the asthma patients in your home? Head to the comments below and tell us your stories…