If you’re allergic to cats, you’d be forgiven for thinking you couldn’t own one. It makes sense, right? Allergies impact your life and encourage avoidance, so how is it that a person who’s allergic to cats can still own one?
The primary cause of allergies to cats is a glycoprotein known as Fel D1, which is produced by the sebaceous glands under the skin, and to a lesser degree is present in cat’s saliva.
A cat is constantly shedding minute particles of dander (skin flakes) into the environment, and when they groom, they transfers saliva on to the coat, which is then shed around the home producing allergies to those susceptible.
People with allergies have over sensitive immune systems. Their bodies mistake harmless things – like cat dander – for dangerous invaders and attack them as they would bacteria or viruses. The symptoms of the allergy are the side effects of your body’s assault on the allergen or trigger.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of a cat allergy might develop in just a few minutes or take hours to appear. They include:
- Coughing and wheezing
- Hives or a rash on the chest and face
- Red, itchy eyes
- Redness of the skin where a cat has scratched, bitten or licked
- Runny, itchy, stuffy nose
If you are not sure you are suffering from an allergy to cats, you can request an allergy test. This involves either a skin patch test or a blood test.
What happens if you’re allergic to a cat?
If you establish that cats are the cause of your red, itchy eyes and sneezing, it doesn’t mean you can’t ever go near one again. It does, however mean that should you introduce a cat into your own home, it should be a hypoallergenic one.
Low allergen or “hypoallergenic” cats are known to produce fewer allergens than “regular” cats. Note that the operative word is “fewer” – no cat is completely hypoallergenic.
Hypoallergenic cats produce less of the protein Fel D1, making a reaction less likely. Light-coloured female hypoallergenic kittens produce the least of all.
Owning a hypoallergenic cat doesn’t mean you will never react, but it does reduce your chances of being affected by them daily. Hypoallergenic cat breeds include:
Often referred to as the “longhaired Siamese”, the Balinese looks like an unlikely candidate for a hypoallergenic cat. Developed in the United States as a breed of its own, it’s a natural spontaneous mutation of the Siamese gene. Possessing all the charm and beauty of the Siamese, the Balinese (meaning “Oriental Ballerina) cat has the added benefit of a uniquely silky, angora-like coat.
Highly intelligent, agile, playful and athletic, the Javanese makes a beautiful family pet. Another longhaired variety of the Siamese, the breed was developed from a foundation of Siamese, Colourpoint and Balinese cats and is extremely fond of people. They like to be “helpful” and follow you around wherever you go and will likely sneak into your bed at every opportunity (not a good idea for someone with allergies). While not as loud as the Siamese, the Javanese is still just as opinionated and will tell you exactly what he thinks.
The “pixie of the cat fancy” Devon Rex sports oversized ears and an elfin face with large impish eyes. This adorable combination only hints at the mad-cap personality within – fun-loving, relaxed, social and a little devilish. Intensely loyal, the Devon Rex possesses almost dog-like qualities and will want to be with you whenever possible.
The Cornish Rex have soft, wavy, rippled coats that lack guard hair, therefore they don’t shed like other cats. Requiring very little grooming, they won’t deposit hair around the home. Slender and athletic with curved contours, an arched back and super soft hair, the Cornish Rex is a fine cat you’ll instantly fall in love with. To find out more about this gorgeous feline, visit our cat breed centre https://www.petsecure.com.au/cat-breeds/cornish-rex/
The muscular, powerful Siberian is extremely agile and can leap great distances and heights. An intelligent breed, it’s known to problem solve to get what it wants and will get along with children, other cats and cat-friendly dogs. The Siberian cat is thought to produce some of the lowest levels of Fel D1. To find out more about this amazing beauty visit https://www.petsecure.com.au/cat-breeds/siberian-cat/
The Sphynx has long been a ‘go to’ cat for people with allergies, however it’s not strictly “hypoallergenic”. The first hairless cat to bred specifically for that trait, its features are unique in that it lacks a fur coat. Extremely warm to touch, they have earned the nickname “suede hot water bottle”. While grooming is not a problem, they do require sponging down regularly to remove oily secretions. To find out more about this unusual cat which we dont see around very often, visit https://www.petsecure.com.au/cat-breeds/sphynx-cat/
The sparkling, silvery coat and brilliant green eyes of the Russian Blue draw immediate attention. Intelligent and playful, they make a wonderful family pet and sensitive to their owner’s moods they will greet you at the door, sit to comfort you or fetch a toy in which to play with. The Russian Blue naturally occurred in Russia, and as a result its fur has adapted to withstand the harsh climate. The dense double coat helps protect you from allergens, because it traps more allergens close to the cat’s skin rather than depositing them for you to inhale. The Russian Blue also produces low levels of Fel D1. To find out more about this handsome feline visit https://www.petsecure.com.au/cat-breeds/russian-blue/
As well as choosing a hypoallergenic breed you can:
- Limit your cat’s access and keep them out of the bedrooms.
- Clean your home regularly, being sure to vacuum every few days
- Keep the air fresh by leaving windows open
- Keep your cat healthy. The healthier your cat, the less it will shed and produce dander.
- Bath your cat every 15 days. Regular baths can dry out your cat’s skin but baths remove significant amounts of allergens from the coat. Have somebody else take care of bathing.
- Have someone else brush your cat regularly and discard hair straight away.
- Play with care. Be mindful of your cat scratching, licking or rubbing up against you and wash your hands well after playtime.