Hypoallergenic cats may be considered an oxymoron by allergy sufferers. Let us, therefore, debug this myth by throwing some light on what causes allergic reactions to cats. Immunologists claim certain traits could make some cats less likely to cause pet-related allergies. These include cats which are female, light colored and shed less.
Defining Hypoallergenic Cats: They’re Not What You Think!
Hypoallergenic means “below normal” or “slightly” allergenic, and was first coined in a cosmetics campaign in 1953. Hypoallergenic cats, therefore, produce fewer allergens than others. While all cats produce pet dander, which is a common allergen, the real culprit is a protein in cat saliva known as Fel d 1.
The numbers do not end at 1 though, and there are certainly other feline allergens. Fel d 4 is also a major allergen, while Fel d 2 and Fel d 3 are minor allergens. IgA is also a known allergen and there are doubtless many more yet-to-be-discovered feline allergens.
Cats produce varying proportions and amounts of these allergens, and people manifest different reactions to the various allergens. This makes it impossible to label any cat universally hypoallergenic.
That being said, allergic reactions will certainly vary between individual cats depending on the ratios of the allergens they produce, as well as how an individual human’s immune system responds to them.
You’re Not Allergic to Cats: You’re Allergic to Their Saliva!
During the normal process of grooming themselves, cats transfer a good deal of this protein to their hair. Loose hair then transfers the protein to the noses of allergic people.
The problem is more often the saliva than the cat hair. Hairless cats are probably not the answer to this problem, because even cats such as the hairless Sphynx can still cause allergic reactions in those prone to cat allergies.
“Cats That Don’t Shed” or “Non-Shedding Cats” Does Not Mean They’re Hypoallergenic!
Getting down to the nitty gritty, we now know that the Fel d proteins secreted by cats and spread onto their coats through grooming are in fact the main cause of allergies. If this is the root of the allergies, a cat that does not shed is probably not likely to be the answer to every allergic reaction.
Truly non-shedding or 100% hypoallergenic cats do not exist, although some breeds are seen as lower shedding and less hypoallergenic. To eliminate allergens, a cat which does not produce the proteins that cause the allergies would have to be bred.
Breeders have claimed to have produced cats who produce low levels of Fel d 1, as well as those who produce none at all. After over more than 10 years, however, no evidence of truly low-allergen producing cats has been presented.
What About a Hairless Kitten? The Benefits of Owning Hairless Cat Breeds
Cats typically grow three types of hair: the undercoat or down hair; awn hairs that are the longer, thicker strands that are also most dominant; and guard hairs which are the longest and protect the undercoat.
Hairless cats do have hair around the face, a soft down, and are the least hair-shedding cats to be found. The benefits of these breeds would definitely include less hair to be vacuumed up and otherwise eliminated from the home. These hairless breeds are also very smart, and of course, tend to be more hypoallergenic than most breeds.
Best “Hypoallergenic” Cat Breeds!
While it cannot be said that any cat is truly hypoallergenic, we can highlight those breeds which are more so than is typical.
Oriental Shorthair Cat
Oriental Shorthairs do not shed much and boast short, fine coats. To ensure the best hypoallergenic traits, keep the Oriental routinely well brushed to remove loose hairs and reduce hair shedding.
Although Siberian cats have the appearance of long-haired kitties, they produce very little of the culprit allergen causing proteins, making them superiorly hypoallergenic in the cat world.
Rex Cat: Devon Rex Hypoallergenic Cats
Like the Cornish Rex, the Devon Rex has only the bottom undercoat of down hair. This causes the Devon Rex to be both very soft and relatively less hairy. They shed very little hair – perfect for the allergy sufferers among us.
Russian Blue Hypoallergenic Cats
Russian Blues very simply produce less Fel d1 than most cats, making them the producers of fewer allergens.
Balinese Cat Hypoallergenic Cats
As a breed, the Balinese cat produces fewer allergens in the form of the Fel d1 than most, and like the Russian Blues are therefore less likely to cause allergic reactions.
Black Sphinx Cat
Regardless of color, the Sphinx cat is among the most renowned in the hairless cat world. The black Sphinx quite simply does not deposit allergen-laden hair and is, therefore, a favorite among those afflicted by allergies.
Bengal Cat Hypoallergenic Cats
Bengals have uniquely fine fur which requires less grooming, resulting in less licking and consequently less saliva on the fur. Less saliva means fewer cat allergens and less dander distributed.
Are Siamese Cats Hypoallergenic?
I think we have laid to rest the myth than any breed of cat is truly hypoallergenic. While the Balinese cat is known as the long-haired Siamese and is known to be hypoallergenic to some extent, Siamese cats are also more so inclined than most breeds. Siamese cats do shed less than many other breeds, which is a favorable trait to lessen allergens.
Black Cat Breeds: Is a Longhaired Black Cat a Good Idea for Your Allergies?
Since long-haired female cats of a light color have been cited as less allergenic than most by immunologists, long-haired black cats may cancel out allergens. Or not?
Darker haired cats contain greater amounts of melanin, which accounts for the darker pigmentation. These cats may also have higher productions of fel d1 and, therefore cause more allergic reactions.
Long hair holds more dander and requires more grooming. It could be surmised therefore that long haired cats would possibly have more of the allergen in their hair than short hairs.
What About a Black Oriental Shorthair?
The same would apply to Black Oriental Shorthairs as Oriental Shorthairs. Keep them well groomed and they will be less inclined to pass the allergens onto you.
Hypoallergenic Cats for Sale!
Beware of cats punted as 100% hypoallergenic and carrying hefty price tags as a result. Allerca Hypoallergenic Cats are priced at around $6,000. This breed is a result of genetic research in which Allerca scientists attempted to disable or eliminate the gene that causes most human cat allergies.
Sphynx Cat Price
Breeders could charge between $300 and $3000 for kittens, depending on various factors. This price should, however, include vaccinations, deworming and a veterinary certificate.
Siberian Cat Price
Siberian kittens range in price between $1300 – $1600 depending on whether the tag includes pediatric altering and genetic testing.
Best Cats for Allergies: What are Good Breeds of Cats for People with Allergies?
Of the seven best hypoallergenic breeds of cat, you have a long haired and hairless choice, between the Siberian and the Sphinx. Three are from the Oriental line, being the Balinese, Javanese and Oriental Shorthair. Two Rex cats also make it on the list, the Devon Rex and the Cornish Rex.
One cannot distinguish between more or less allergenic simply by looks or ancestry. Long haired cats are said to be more likely to cause allergies, but some long-haired breeds have proven to produce fewer allergens than even hairless breeds.
Dark haired cats are proven to cause more allergic reactions, but the Sphynx, Oriental and countless other hypoallergenic breeds present in black without impacting their allergenic status.
Don’t Let the Dander Get You Down! 8 Tips to Keep Those Allergies at Bay!
- Keep your home regularly dusted and vacuumed, and do not overlook mattresses and upholstered surfaces.
- A HEPA filter on your vacuum cleaner traps allergens in the air and on carpets.
- Keep bedrooms pet-free and restrict pets to certain areas of the house.
- Bathe your pets often or wipe them down with a damp cloth.
- Regular grooming will remove allergens from the fur.
- Wash kitty and doggy bedding and toys regularly.
- Air purifiers filter out the allergens in the home.
- Allergy sufferers should wash hands after coming into contact with a cat or dog.
Need to Test Which Breeds You’re Not Allergic To? Try the Animal Shelter!
Volunteering at your local animal shelter will bring you into close contact with many different breeds of cats and their bedding and habitats. This is an inexpensive and community-minded way to see which breeds might cause allergic reactions.
Not every person is affected similarly by cats and it is important for you to ascertain your own particular idiosyncrasy when it comes to cat allergens.
You Should Give All the Cat Breeds a Chance! You Might Be Surprised by Your Perfect Match!
While allergy sufferers may tend to stay away from long-haired breeds, it is proven that short-haired cats may carry more allergens than some long-haired varieties. As such you never can be sure where your match may lie.
Found a Cat You’re Not Allergic to? Why Not Make Them an ESA?
Cats and Dogs are the most common emotional support animals (ESAs) for a reason. They are popular pets that have the power to bring calming comfort and unconditional love to their owners.
With your ESA letter, you will be able to fly with your emotional support cat free of charge, making traveling just that little bit less stressful. You will also be able to rent accommodation despite there being a “no-pet policy”.
All you need to do to see whether you qualify for an ESA letter is take Certapet’s free online 5-min pre-screening! It’s that easy!
Common Questions on Hypoallergenic Cats
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