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Hypoallergenic Cat: Pet Experts Expose The Truth

Pet Care Tips 3 min read
woman suffering from allergies, her nose in a tissue holding an orange cat. hypoallergenic cat: pet experts expose the truth

You may be one of those unlucky people that is super allergic to cats but has always wanted one! But wait, what about hypoallergenic cats? You may be wondering what the hype is and if there is any truth to this claim! Keep reading to find out more!

Technically, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat.

Does a hypoallergenic cat really exist? 

A sensitivity to pets is the second most common allergy, after pollen and mites. Technically, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat, according to Dr. Lyons, a research veterinarian who runs a genetics lab specifically addressing these kinds of questions about our feline friends. People are not allergic to the hair says Dr. Lyons; “they are allergic to proteins in a cat’s saliva”. And every cat has saliva, lots of it! Many people believe that the amount of fur their kitty has is causing the allergy. This isn’t the case because even hairless kitties are not hypoallergenic! 

Can people with cat allergies have a cat?

Yes, if you’re prepared for months, and possibly years of being itchy, sneezy, and puffy. Some allergy sufferers notice that when they adopt a kitty, their allergies decrease, but this may not be the case for everyone. Domestic kitties are unique in the animal kingdom. They produce proteins that no other animal produces (not even dogs). This is why some people are highly allergic to cats and no other species. There are over 8 different proteins in cat saliva that may trigger an allergic response. The Fel d 1 protein is the worst offender. This protein is found in a cat’s skin, saliva, and pee.

Some people believe that the amount of hair a cat has determines how allergic they will be to them. However, kitties with more fur aren’t producing more allergens, they’re just putting more allergens into the environment. This could explain why some people still have allergy symptoms from a cat who may have come for a short visit but is long gone. When a cat licks themself during a regular tongue bath, the saliva containing the Fel d 1 protein dries and becomes an airborne allergen. The hair is a vehicle for the allergen to get into the air. If you’ve ever seen a cat explore their environment – they are sure to cover every square inch of your house in hair!

Breeds Considered Hypoallergenic

As mentioned above, an allergenic breed does not exist. But the closest one would have to be a Siberian cat. Certain members of this breed produce different levels of the Fel d 1 protein. A 2017 study suggests that certain gene mutations are responsible for why Siberians may cause a less severe allergic reaction than other breeds. But more research still needs to be done.

Siberian cat

Are Sphynx cats hypoallergenic?

Hairless kitties still contain the Fel d 1 protein in their skin, saliva, and urine but because they have little or no hair, there may be less of the allergen in the environment. If you have cat allergies and are considering adopting a kitty, the Sphynx, Peterbald, and other hairless cat breeds may be a good option. Keep in mind that hairless kitties need weekly baths to avoid clogged pores. They are also prone to skin allergies.

Are Rex cats hypoallergenic?

Like hairless kitties, Devon Rexes and Cornish Rexes still produce the Fel d 1 protein but because they only grow an undercoat with little or no topcoat, they tend to shed less than their full-coated cousins so they may release fewer airborne allergens into your home. If you suffer from cat allergies, and you want a feline companion, these kitties may be a good option to consider.

Are there cat breeds that are hypoallergenic?

No one knows what the Fel d 1 protein does for our feline friends. Some cats have a little and some have a lot, so we don’t fully understand what the function is. There is no bearing on the breed either. Ragdolls, Bengals, Siamese, Balinese, Maine Coons, Persians, Domestic Short Hairs, Scottish Folds, and Russian Blues all produce the Fel d 1 protein plus all the other proteins that trigger an allergic response. On average, unneutered males produce the most while females produce the least, suggesting that the protein may carry hormones or pheromones. Scientists speculate that it may have a protective effect on the skin but more research needs to be done.

When people say they are allergic to pet dander, what they’re referring to are the proteins in a cat’s saliva! Scientists are currently working on new treatments to improve someone’s immune response to these proteins but they tend to be very costly, require weekly injections, and may not be a permanent solution. For now, if you are a cat allergy sufferer and want a furry friend, you may need to just load up on allergy medication and hope for the best!

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Published: May 7, 2022

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