Cat allergies are one of the top five reasons why cats are returned to shelters. However, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, nearly 10 million people choose to share their homes with cats and dogs despite being allergic.
Being allergic to cats does not have to mean you can’t have cats
Being allergic to cats does not have to mean that you can’t share your life with cats. There are numerous things you can do to manage your cat allergies and still have all the benefits of sharing your life with cats. Options range from modifying your environment to taking allergy medication or immunotherapy allergy shots. Additionally, regularly brushing and grooming your cat, keeping her litter box clean, and feeding a species appropriate high quality diet that minimizes dander and shedding can all help manage cat allergies.
What causes cat allergies?
Contrary to what most people believe, cat allergies are not caused by cat hair, but by the fel d1 protein, a protein found in a cat’s saliva, urine and dander (dried flakes of skin). People with allergies have oversensitive immune systems that react to these substances. The reason why some allergy sufferers seem to react more to cats with a long coat is most likely due to the fact that there’s more surface for the cat’s saliva and dander to accumulate on.
Is there such a thing as a hypoallergenic cat?
While there is no breed that is completely “hypoallergenic,” some breeds produce fewer allergens than others. The operative word here is “fewer” – no cat breed is completely non-allergenic.
Factors that contribute to the production of allergens are:
- Male cats produce more allegens than females, and intact males produce evne more than neutered males
- Darker colored cats tend to produce more allegens than light colored cats
- Kittens produce fewer allergens than adult cats, which is why sometimes, cat allergies in guardians don’t appear until a kitten grows older
There are several breeds that produce fewer allergens. Don’t let “hypoallergenic” be the only thing that influences you when choosing a cat breed. Be sure that you don’t make the “hypoallergenic” characteristic the only criteria when selecting your new cat; take breed temperament and characteristics into consideration as well.
The following breeds tend to be less allergenic:
- Cornish Rex
- Devon Rex
- Oriental Shorthair
- Russian Blue
If you’re looking for a hypoallergenic cat, you don’t necessarily need to go to a breeder. Shelters often have purebred cats who were abandoned by their guardians. There are also many breed-specific rescue groups.
This article was previously published on Answers.com and is republished with permission.