Millions of people are allergic to cats. However, cats can be great pets. Having a cat allergy can be very difficult if some members of a family want a cat and another is allergic or even if the person who suffers allergies would like to be a proud cat owner. There is a lot of talk about hypoallergenic cats, but do they even exist?
What Causes Cat Allergies?
Many people think that it is the fur on the cat that causes their cat allergies. However, that isn't it. The problem is actually proteins that are found in the cat dander (dead skin sells). These proteins are put into the cat dander through glands under the skin, through saliva (through washing), and urine (often spread through washing). Allergic reactions come in a wide variety of different symptoms and there are things you can do for your cat allergies no matter what type of cat that you have.
Is There Such a Thing as a Hypoallergenic Cat?
Many people believe that a “hypoallergenic” cat is one that doesn't cause an allergic reaction. In this sense there are no cats that never cause an allergic reaction in any people. However, the prefix “hypo” means less and if you look at it this way there are some cats that studies have shown cause less of an allergic reaction.
Factors That Change Allergic Reactions
Studies have shown that light colored cats are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Depending on your allergic reaction you may find that a light colored cat is all that you need. They have also shown that female cats produce fewer of the proteins that cause the allergic reactions. Getting a male cat neutered and a female cat spayed can reduce the proteins that both genders produce. Some studies have shown that very long haired breeds shed differently and may reduce the allergic response in some people.
Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds
Balinese – Bolinese cats look like long haired Siamese cats. Many people don't think that they could be hypoallergenic cats because of their long fur. However, studies have shown that these cats produce less Fel D1 which is the major protein people are allergic to. There are still other proteins that can cause symptoms, but they are less likely to be major issues.
- Cornish Rex – The cornish rex is a hypoallergenic cat because it does shed much fur. This makes it harder for them to get pet dander everywhere. However, they do require frequent baths. The baths are required in order to wash oils from their skin. On one hand, this can really help with the allergens even more, but it also requires more work on the part of the cat owner.
- Devon Rex – The devon rex cat has a scruffy looking coat that can be thin, like suede, or can even be loose curls. They have large ears, a very triangular face with large eyes, and have a body shape similar to the sphynx. They have short fur and very little shedding. They do need to be wiped down and bathed, but not as often as the Cornish Rex or the Sphynx.
- Javanese – These are a hypoallergenic cat that has medium length fur. That in turn can make them look different than most people think of with the hypoallergenic cat. However, they only have a single coat without an under coat. That in turn makes it so that there are fewer allergens and fewer ways to spread the allergens.
- Russian Blue Cats – While there is no scientific studies that show that this is true, many people believe that the Russian Blue is also hypoallergenic. They do have a coat similar to the Siberian and come from the same location so it may be that they have similar results as the Siberian cat.
- Siberian – The Siberian has a fairly long coat, but falls into the hypoallergenic cat category because it has lower protein levels, particularly in their saliva. There are even claims that say that ¾ of the people who suffer from cat allergies don't react to Siberian cats at all. Of all the breeds that are claimed to be hypoallergenic the Siberian cat is the one that shows the best results in studies.
- Sphynx – The sphynx is close to hairless. They can have a small amount of hair on their nose, tail, and toes. These cats are often sold as allergy free, but if you think about it, it just isn't true. Since hair is not what causes allergies, but rather the proteins in the dander, saliva, and urine. These things are still an issue for owners of sphynx cats. They also need frequent baths and need to be wiped down often. This can help to get rid of the proteins that cause the allergic reaction.
Breeding Hypoallergenic Cats
Lifstyle Pets has produced a cat that that they claim doesn't produce the major protein that people are allergic to. For $8,000 to 27,000 you can buy one of these Allerca Cats. Some people who have purchased the cat really do claim that it has almost eliminated their allergies. They go from severe reactions to the occasional itchy eye. Before you rush out and buy though you should know that Lifestyle Pets and the owner have been accused of fraud on several occasions. They don't always deliver cats that are paid for and there are a number of complaints that can be found on the Internet.
Felix Pets says that they are removing the gene that makes the protein from their cats and will eventually produce an allergy free cat. Whether or not this can actually be done is a different issue and some scientists have their doubts.
Exotic Cat Breeds
Another option that often claims to be a hypoallergenic cat is the exotic breed the bengal cat. This “breed” is created through breeding a domestic breed with an Asian Leopard Cat. This creates a very exotic looking cat that sheds less because they have more of a pelt than the standard cat. They also tend to love water making them easier to bathe frequently.
In the end, there is not currently an allergy free cat. Some cats have different factors that may reduce your allergic reaction to them. If your symptoms are not severe you may even find that you don't have any reaction to these breeds. At least 25% of rex cats that find their way into shelters were owned by people allergic to cats who then gave their cat up because of an allergic reaction to them. In addition to considering one of these breeds you should also make sure that you are doing everything that you can to deal with your cat allergies for the best possible response and the best relationship with your new furry friend.