How to Choose the Best Hypoallergenic Cat for Your House

Nov 11, 2021

How to Choose the Best Hypoallergenic Cat for Your House

5 minute read

If you’re allergic to pet dander, the idea of having a cat walking around your house probably sounds dreadful. Sneezing, coughing, and itching your eyes all the time is no fun, but it’s incredibly frustrating when the cause is a cute, cuddly cat.

Nevertheless, many pet-lovers who also suffer from allergies are determined to find a feline that they can live with without dealing with constant sneezes and runny noses.

So, is there a way that an allergy sufferer can keep a cat in the house? In this post, we’ll give you the answers you’re looking for, as well as the truth about whether there is such a thing as a hypoallergenic cat.

What Causes Cat Allergies?

If you’re allergic to cats, your immune system has an inflammatory reaction to a protein in the cat’s saliva. This protein, known as Fel D1, is harmless to humans, but a highly sensitive immune system may recognize it as a threat.

If you experience allergy symptoms after hanging out with a cat, your reaction comes from the chemicals that your immune system produces in response to the cat’s saliva.

These chemicals include histamines, which regulate your immune system’s inflammatory response. While histamines can serve an important purpose when a real threat to your health is present, they’re not as helpful when your immune system overreacts to something harmless.

Are There Really Hypoallergenic Cats?

Not all cats produce the same amount of Fel D1 protein. A cat whose saliva contains minimal amounts of Fel D1 is the ideal feline for you if you suffer from allergy symptoms. However, you may still find yourself getting symptoms from time to time with any cat. The unfortunate truth is that there’s no such thing as a 100% hypoallergenic cat.

So, where did the myth of the hypoallergenic cat come from? The idea that some cats won’t trigger allergy symptoms is mainly perpetuated by word of mouth, with some pet owners hearing from cat breeders and pet stores that their cats are hypoallergenic. Unfortunately, while some cats won’t cause allergy symptoms that are as constant or severe, every feline has the potential to make your allergies flare up.

I Have Allergies. Is There Any Cat I Can Get?

If you’re allergic to cats, it’s up to you to decide whether owning one is worth the potential for symptoms. A cat can provide you with company, companionship, and emotional support, but they may also make you sneeze, itch, and cough. When deciding on whether it’s worth it for you to get a cat, keep in mind that some breeds are closer to hypoallergenic than others.

Keep an eye out for these breeds if you’re looking for a cat that will trigger minimal allergy symptoms.

Sphinx

The sphinx is a hairless cat that is often referred to as hypoallergenic. However, these cats’ saliva still contains some Fel D1 protein. A sphinx is often recommended to allergy sufferers mainly because of this breed’s hairlessness – hairless cats tend to have less Fel D1 lingering on their skin, making them easier to manage for allergy sufferers.

A sphinx is typically a loyal, friendly, and good-natured cat, and the breed’s personality traits are often compared to your typical dog. However, they’re also a high-maintenance breed, requiring a sponge bath at least once a week to keep their skin from getting too oily.

Siberian

While these cats have fairly long coats, they’re often referred to as hypoallergenic because of the low levels of Fel D1 protein in their saliva. Many love Siberians for their cleverness, agility, and good looks, and people with pet allergies often report that they have no issues being around these cats.

If you’re a little unsettled by the appearance of a hairless cat, the Siberian is another great option with low potential to cause allergy symptoms. Like the Sphinx, these cats are loyal, sweet, and relatively easy to wrangle.

Rex

The Devon Rex and Cornish Rex are two low-hair cat breeds known for their big, pretty eyes and expressive faces. Thanks to their minimal fur, these cats don’t carry around a lot of residual saliva with them, which can help to minimize your allergy symptoms. However, just like the Sphinx and other short-haired or hairless breeds, the Rex is not technically hypoallergenic.

If you’re looking for a cat that requires minimal maintenance, the black-coated Cornish Rex probably isn’t the best option. These cats have a soft coat and a sweet temperament, but they need frequent sponge baths. Like the sphinx, the Cornish Rex’s coat can get oily quickly, which means a consistent bath schedule is a must.

The Devon Rex, on the other hand, doesn’t need to be bathed quite as frequently as its Cornish counterpart. Devons are quite affectionate, and they tend to be the more vocal of the two Rex breeds. Their purring is usually a sign that they’re happy and content.

Groom Your Cat for Minimal Allergy Symptoms

If you’ve chosen to get a cat despite your allergies, you’ve signed up for years of cuddles, companionship, and affection. However, you’ll probably deal with some symptoms from time to time, no matter how low your cat’s production of Fel D1 protein is.

To keep your allergy symptoms to a minimum, bathe and brush your cat frequently. A poorly-groomed cat can trigger allergy symptoms much more often than a clean, tidy cat. Plus, grooming keeps your feline friend looking their best.

Finding Relief From Cat Allergies

If you're suffering from cat allergies, you can take several different routes to get the relief you need. The first step in dealing with cat allergy symptoms is often to visit an allergist, who can help you better understand how to proceed with treatment.

Once your allergist confirms that cat is the cause of your symptoms, you'll most likely be presented with a few treatment options, including:

  • Over-the-counter antihistamines
  • Prescription allergy relief medications
  • Allergy shots

In addition to a few treatment options, it's always a good idea to make sure your air conditioner unit in your home is cleaned regularly. Adding a HEPA filter to your air conditioner may also help keep dander low and irritants out of the air around you.

Your allergist can talk over each of these treatment options with you at length, but you'll find a brief description of them below.

Conclusion

Cats can be sweet and cuddly companions, and there’s no denying that they make fantastic pets. Even if you suffer from allergies to pet dander, you don’t have to give up on keeping a cat in the house. Just make sure you’re prepared to frequently groom and care for your cat to minimize the potential for allergy symptoms!

Sources:

Pet Dander | American Lung Association

Allergies - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic

Devon Rex | The Cat Fanciers' Association, Inc


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