by Clayton & Heather Knowles
Being allergic to cats
Having allergies is the pits! It really stinks if you’re allergic to animals. The most common animal to have an allergic reaction to is a cat. Cats are second only to dust mites for involvement in allergic respiratory incidences. Those who have experienced a reaction know all about the red and itchy eyes, the runny nose, the sneezing, the coughing, and the hives or rash. If you love cats and want to have one in your life, you don’t have to let allergies get in the way. While there is no truly “hypoallergenic” cat breed, there are many breeds that you may be able to have in your home that won’t cause those symptoms, or at least lessen the severity of those reactions.
What causes cat allergy?
What is it about these silly little fur balls that cause all these reactions by our immune system? You may be surprised to learn that it does not come from the cat’s hair. It is actually a protein, Fel d1, that cats produce which is found in their saliva, skin, and urine. As a cat grooms, which it does frequently, the protein is transferred to the hair which then is shed. The allergen also comes from the skin dander that is shed as well. All cat breeds produce this protein. However, the level of the protein produced does vary from breed to breed. It also differs between male and female, age of cat, as well as between castrated or uncastrated. Males tend to produce higher levels of Fel d1 than females. Castrated males produce less than uncastrated males. Senior cats produce less than younger cats. So what breeds would be best for a person that suffers from allergies to cats?
Here are the top eight breeds for allergy sufferers
The Sphynx is best known for being “hairless.” This is a misnomer because they actually do have hair. It is just very short and fine. This breed is very friendly, affectionate, and extremely devoted to its owner. They are also very curious and intelligent which can sometimes lead to them getting into mischief. Since they have very little hair to protect their skin they must be kept indoors to protect against sun burns. They should also be bathed once a week to keep their skin healthy. If you aren’t sure how to bathe your cat, feel free to reach out to your pet sitter. They can offer lots of tips and tricks to make sure it is a successful experience for both your and your pet.
The Siberian is thought to produce some of the lowest levels of Fel d1. They tend to be a larger breed with semi-long, fluffy coats. They shed seasonally, so brushing is needed frequently. They are extremely playful and very smart. They also tend to get along with children and other animals quite well. Try to establish a routine with brushing your cat. Try different combs and brushes until you find one that both your pet, and you, like. If you find yourself becoming frustrated, your pet sitter will likely have lots of suggestions. And remember, try and stay calm when you are brushing the cat. It will pick up and likely mirror your attitude.
Another breed with low levels of Fel d1 is the Russian Blue. This breed is known for their bluish-grey coats and bright green eyes. Their coat is double layered with a downy undercoat and a protective topcoat. This coat tends to be extremely dense. This dense coat also helps to keep dander at a minimum. This breed is low maintenance but should be brushed just to help keep down the levels of Fel d1 released.
The Oriental is a breed that can come with short hair or long hair. They are very loyal, affectionate and need a lot of attention. They need to be entertained regularly and would prefer to have another cat to keep them company and to play with. According to them, they are the center of your universe. Which they will tell you.
The Javanese feature a medium to long length coat and beautiful blue eyes. They are athletic, playful, and affectionate. They can be taught to perform tricks quite easily by you or your pet sitter. They are a very active breed, so if you cannot spend a lot of time playing this breed, it may not be for you.
Similar to the Siamese (which is not one of the cats we would recommend for allergy sufferers), the Balinese features a single layer coat of fur which tends to shed much less. They are one of the most intelligent breeds on the planet. They can be chatty and very affectionate and adore interacting with humans. When you return from a trip, make sure to ask your pet sitter what they and your Balinese spoke about!
Originating in Cornwall, England the Cornish Rex is a breed that sheds very little and only has a coat of down. It is a smaller size breed and does not like to be left alone for extended periods of time. This breed would be best for an active family or someone who can devote a lot of time to the cat. If you do need to be gone overnight, make sure you have a pet sitter standing by!
In the same family as the Cornish Rex, the Devon Rex is known for its short, thin coat of fur. This breed has a unique personality. This cat is able to entertain itself while alone, which makes it ideal for working people. They also tend to behave more like a dog when people are around. They will follow you around, try to eat your food, and lay in your lap. They might even play fetch for you with their favorite toys!
Along with having one of these breeds, there are some other tips to help lessen the impact of allergies. You may want to limit the cats access to the bedroom, your pillow in particular. You should keep the home clean, and make sure to vacuum every couple of days. The less carpet and the more hard surfaces you can have for flooring, the better. Windows should be kept open if you can in order to keep the air fresh and moving. Also, keep your cat healthy. Healthy cats tend to shed less and produce less dander. After playing with the cat, wash your hands.
If you select your cat wisely, you should be able to enjoy its company worry free from allergies. Don’t let those pesky allergies stop you from enjoying the wonderful companionship of a feline. You will not be sorry.