When searching for a cat that’s suitable for an allergy sufferer, you may have come across so-called hypoallergenic breeds. These breeds are said to be compatible with an allergy sufferer, perhaps because they don’t shed much fur or because their fur is short.
However, contrary to popular belief, a cat allergy is actually caused by the animal’s urine, saliva and dead skin cells rather than its fur. These things contain a protein called Fel de 1 which is what brings out allergy symptoms like sneezing, coughing and a runny nose. Therefore, regardless of the type of cat, it still has the potential to cause problems.
What should I do?
If you wish to give Miss Kitty a new and loving home I wouldn’t like to be the one to discourage you however, here are a few things to bear in mind before doing so:
- Visit the animal shelter or breeder multiple times and spend as much time as possible with the cats. If you have an allergy, this will soon bring out symptoms like itching and watery eyes. Remember though, daily exposure to allergens usually makes symptoms more severe so don’t assume that because problems didn’t arise during the course of your visit, that they won’t arise at all
- Every cat varies in terms of the amount of allergens they produce therefore don’t assume that because you’ve had a tortoiseshell cat in the past that didn’t cause allergy symptoms, that another of the same type will be similar
- It is usually agreed that female cats produce less allergen than male cats and neutered males produce less than non-neutered males. Therefore, it you have an allergy these may be more suitable.1
It is also common for people to discover they have a cat allergy only after adopting their new pet. Unfortunately some of these people will have no choice but to give up that pet however, there are a few things you can do before reaching that stage to minimise the effects of allergens and help you live contentedly with your cat:
- Visit your GP to determine if a cat allergy is indeed causing your symptoms or if something else is at the root of the problem. There are many other possible allergens that can be found within the home including dust mites, mould spores and even pollen so your doctor will be able to rule these out
- If your doctor is able to confirm a cat allergy, they may prescribe a course of antihistamines to help ease your symptoms
- Also, take steps to address your symptoms. Our Moisturising Eye Drops provide relief for dry or irritated eyes whilst our Pollinosan Nasal Spray cleanses the nose of allergens to make it feel more comfortable
- Minimise the effects of allergens by creating spaces within your home that are off limits to any cat. Your bedroom is a great place to start as you spend a lot of time here at night.2
Preferred varieties for allergy sufferers
So, as animal dander is usually at the root of an allergy, regardless of the type of cat, there’s every possibility that your newfound moggy will bring on symptoms. No cat can therefore be deemed allergy free but nevertheless, there are a few varieties of cat that may produce a little less allergen.
Cats of this type aren’t often found at the local rescue centre and are usually pedigree breeds instead:
- Devon Rex
- Cornish Rex
These varieties may have fewer allergens for a variety of reasons:
- When a cat sheds its fur, animal dander is spread widely around the home therefore, a cat with no fur still produces plenty of dander however, it doesn’t spread so easily
- Cats that shed no or little fur are again, less likely to spread allergens
- Curly fur will trap allergens produced by a cat and so it may spread less freely
- Some varieties of cat just produce fewer allergens meaning allergy symptoms are less likely to occur.
Breeds to avoid
- British Longhair
- Persian Cats
- Maine Coon Cats
- Norwegian Forrest Cats
These breeds are particularly troublesome for allergy sufferers for various reasons:
- Breeds such as the British Longhair take lots of grooming to prevent matting therefore having to do this regularly could exasperate allergy symptoms
- Dander sticks to long fur so the furrier, fluffier the cat, the more likely you are to react to it
- Varieties of cats that shed lots of fur aren’t, once again, ideal for an allergy sufferer as this fur contains dander that will spread throughout the home.
So… what to remember
- All cats produce dander so could cause allergies
- If you have a cat, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to avoid allergens completely
- Some cats could be less problematic for allergy sufferers but there’s no guarantee.