As cats have always been incredibly favorite animals, many people would like to have one at their own home. But surprisingly a relatively inconsiderable part of a human population is found to be allergic to them. What causes the allergy to cats and how can we minimize the impact of it? The following article will provide you with the answers you seek.
Allergies In General
Allergies are generally identified as a frequent problem nowadays. It’s difficult to find the primary root cause but most likely they are caused by inappropriate living conditions. We live in cities full of smog, eat low-quality food or take drugs that may have a negative impact on us if we consume them in large quantities. This all may result in underlying body health problem or system imbalance. Our weakened body leads to developing of different types of allergies. That are just some of the reasons why the portion of the human population is allergic to cats, unfortunately.
Scientists claim that around 5-15% of the world population suffer from cat allergies. That’s pretty high number and it just confirms the importance of the overall problem. On the other hand, there may exist certain cat breeds we may not be allergic to. These cat breeds are typically referenced as hypoallergenic cats.
What Causes Allergies to Cats
First of all, it must be said there is truly no hypoallergenic cat breed. Well, at least there is no cat that would be allergy-free with one hundred percent efficiency. The hypoallergenic term is not synonymous with non-allergenic. Unfortunately, no cat breed is completely non-allergenic. To help you better understand this, it is necessary to describe the main cause of allergies to cats first.
Cats produce so-called Fel d 1 Protein, which is a short name for “Felis Domesticus”. This protein is identified as the major allergen causing people to trigger their allergy symptoms. The Fel d 1 allergen is primarily found in the cat’s saliva and sebaceous glands in the cat’s skin.
Fel d 1 protein is spread throughout your home because of your cat’s grooming. As the cats lick themselves during self-cleaning process, they spread this protein onto their fur, respectively their skin. Afterwards, they transfer it to every possible place the cat touches. And once is the protein spread all over your household, the allergy symptoms may sooner or later be triggered.
Basically, every single cat produces the Fel d 1 allergen, therefore all cat breeds can potentially cause allergies. However, some breeds secrete it much less than others. Those are the breeds known as hypoallergenic.
Just so you know, male cats tend to produce more of Fel d 1 protein than female cats. Neutered felines have a tendency to produce even less of the protein than the not castrated ones. But the production is still high enough to cause allergic symptoms in sensitive individuals.
Cat Allergen Pervasiveness
Next thing worth mentioning is that the cat allergen is unbelievably pervasive. Even after the cat has been removed from the home, it can remain throughout the home for up to 6 months. In the case of the cat’s bedding, it may last up to 4 years in it.
The allergen is very tiny and light. It is about ten times smaller than a dust particle. Therefore, it is not that easy to get rid of all of it in a short timeframe. Hence we recommend you to think twice about bringing your cat home if you are not sure whether you are allergic to them and do not want to take unnecessary risk.
Popular Hypoallergenic Cats
There exist around 14 hypoallergenic cat breeds universally. These breeds include:
- Russian Blue
- Oriental Shorthair
- Colorpoint Shorthair
- Cornish Rex
- Devon Rex
The most popular are Siberian, Balinese, Russian Blue, Bengal or Ocicat. Some people also prefer hairless cats to the furry ones. In such case, they usually get the Sphynx cat for example.
For the full reference please visit our Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds list.
Many people confirm positive impact to hypoallergenic cats. Nevertheless, you should not rely on them blindly. There still may be differences among hypoallergenic cat breeds. Whereas some person may be allergic to one specific breed, it may not be allergic to another one, even within hypoallergenic cats.
Also please note that up to 50% of people allergic to cats will not get any immediate symptoms as it usually takes some time before the allergen is spread over your household. Therefore it is a good idea to get yourself tested to different types of allergies before purchasing your own pet.
You can relatively easily find out whether there is any possible chance of suffering from cat allergies in the future or not. You can either go to an allergist, who can test you not only to cat-related allergies, or visit a cattery. A cattery is a place where cats are commercially housed. They typically allow people to visit their place and spend some time with cats inside. That is a very enjoyable way how to check for potential problems caused by cat allergies.
We recommend you reading through our other basic Should I Get a Hypoallergenic Cat? article to get more ideas of how to properly test yourself for cat allergies.
Reducing of Cat Allergies Effects
Purchasing a hypoallergenic cat is usually not sufficient in order to decrease the chances of triggering allergy symptoms. This problem demands a much more complex solution.There are many ways what you can do to mitigate cat allergy symptoms.
In order to avoid or lower allergic reactions to cats, you should groom your cat regularly. Also, try to take care of the regular household cleaning. You should vacuum your home often, wash cat’s bedding and it’s toys once a week, consider installing an air filter and eventually give your cat the bath on a regular basis. Another option is to use some medicaments such as Zyrtec or Claritine. However, we recommend you to first consult such option with an allergy specialist. For more tips on how to suppress allergy symptoms, read our 18 Ways How To Minimize Impact of Allergy to Cats guide.
Hypoallergenic Cats Summary
By choosing the hypoallergenic cat, you will likely breathe easier and have less risk of sneezing and watery eyes, yet enjoy the pleasures of pet ownership. But that is not the only way how to solve your cat allergy problems. Do not forget to test yourself to certain breeds in order to find out which one would suit you best.
To learn more about hypoallergenic cats, please read also our other articles under Basics section.
Should you have any comments or would like to share your personal experience with these allergy-friendly cats, please do so in the comments below. We will be happy to hearing from you.