Before we go into what hypoallergenic cats are, let’s first discuss what causes the types of allergies that you get with cats.
Queenly as they may be, not all cats make perfect companions. Of course, we all know that each and every feline friend has its own peculiarity; personality and infuriatingly natural way of making you purr and love them. However, it’s very unfortunate that some of our furry feline friends are frequently to blame for almost 10 percent of pet-related allergens.
It’s especially unfortunate if you suffer from allergic reactions due to a certain protein that is found in cat saliva and causes you to be allergic to cats. Wouldn’t that be a bummer?
If you are one of the 10 percent of the population that experiences symptoms triggered by the Fel D1 protein that are secreted by cats, it’s best to understand how to keep your furry friend and protect yourself from the allergens at the same time.
So what causes the allergy?
The allergic reaction is generally caused by a protein called Fel D1, which is mostly produced by male cats rather than females and more by the dark colored cats than the light-colored ones.
Naturally, kittens produce less allergen than the adult ones. The cat fur isn’t necessarily at fault though but it somehow ‘pulls the trigger.’
Secretions from the sebaceous glands of the cat’s skin are the primary culprits of Fel D1 and it is deposited on the fur through the saliva.
So, when your cat cleans herself every morning (or afternoon, or evening) by what is dubbed as the self-cleaning process, she delivers that secretion into her fur and eventually, the Fel D1 flakes dries off and becomes airborne, triggering the symptoms that characterize allergies to cats.
It’s always been a misconception that the problem is with the feline’s fur. However, it’s the microscopic scales of dead skin (similar to, but much smaller than the dandruff on the human scalp) that pets are constantly shedding that causes the allergic reaction.
So miniscule – these microscopic scales circulate in the air or are left on the furniture and carpets and eventually trigger a reaction to those who are allergic to cats or any pet for that matter.
Recent studies also suggest that urine (protein) from cats contains allergen that triggers allergic reactions. Another known fact is most pets that remain outdoors at all times cause very few allergy problems, although, eventually when an allergic person goes outside and plays with the animal, all hell breaks loose.
Fortunately, there are still ways to keep your cat and minimize the risk of getting allergic reactions. Although, before you buy a new cat, it would be advisable if you request for a ‘fur sample’ from the breeder to have yourself tested if you suffer from pet allergies.
On top of taking antihistamines and buying an air filter to clear the airborne allergens, frequent bathing and brushing of your cat is ideal. If you’re the one who’s getting the allergic reactions, then it’s best to ask a groomer or a family member to do this for you.
What types of hypoallergenic cats are there?
Although there’s no cat breed that is truly hypoallergenic, there are certain hypoallergenic cats that you can take care of without getting irritated.
You must remember though, that hypoallergenic cats are felines that typically produce lesser allergens than the regular cats, so there are still lots of possibilities of being exposed to the allergens on inevitable days. However if you’re still getting allergies, you can always try smoking on some catnip.
In short, hypoallergenic does not necessarily mean non-allergenic and there are no non-allergenic cat breeds. Of the 40 recognized breeds of domestic cats in the world, there are some hypoallergenic cat breeds that secrete less allergen than most cat breeds.
The following are just some recommendations of the best cats for allergies, which you can also check with your local veterinarian.
The longhaired Siamese, also called the Balinese is one of the few cat breeds that will keep you from wheezing or sneezing all the time.
The Devon Rex, which has shorter and less fur, does not need frequent full baths like the Cornish Rex.
The hairless Sphinx, which is most often associated with hypoallergenic – it being hairless and all, doesn’t necessarily mean they are maintenance-free since they still need their frequent baths to remove any gummy buildup of oils on their skin and large ears.
The Siberian, like the Balinese, has a moderately long coat, but is still hypoallergenic due to the lower-than-average enzyme levels in their saliva. There are claims that 75 percent of cat allergy sufferers have no reaction to the Siberian.
It seems that with most of the cat breeds listed above, bathing and brushing are a major aspect in keeping the allergens at bay.
Eventually, some people with cat allergies might adapt to their own pet and get immune to its allergy- triggering protein but still be allergic to other cats or pets. Perhaps by year 5, both you and your cat will eventually get along too well that even her allergens will get along with your allergic reactions 🙂