There are actually no cats that are truly hypoallergenic, so all cats can generate an allergic reaction for those with a cat allergy. The only thing we can say about it, is that you can easier get an allergic reaction with certain cats than others. The best cats for people with allergies are Siberian, Balinese, Bengal, Burmese, Colorpoint Short hair, Cornish and Devon Rex, Javanese, Ocicat, Oriental Short hair, Russian Blue, Siamese and Sphynx.
What Causes Cat Allergies
While it sounds natural that the hair of cats would cause an allergic reaction, it is actually a protein or several glycoproteins that are secreted by the sebaceous glands.
There are at least 2 glycoproteins that are causing people with cat allergies to get allergic reactions. These are fel d 1 and fel d 4. Fel d 1 is secreted by the glands and fel d 4 is in the cats saliva. Allergies are commonly caused by the Fel d 1 glycoprotein and ends up in the cats urine and dander, although a lot of people have minor allergy symptoms caused by the fel d 4 in saliva.
Dander will be found at cat’s hair ends, when hair gets airborne or ends up in carpets and clothing. Cats groom themselves to clean which means that saliva is spread all over their fur. They also stimulate a gland on their skin to produce an oily substance to protect their fur against water (minor protection). This then also spreads the fel d 1 protein over their body.
What To Do About Cat Allergy
What you can do about a cat allergy depends greatly on the level of allergy and allergic reaction that a person has to cats. A person with a milder form of cat allergy will get cold-like symptoms and there are a lot of things you can do to make their life better.
Cat allergies should not be taken lightly though, as a heavy cat allergic person can potentially die from suffocation by a cat allergy, much similar to the nut and other more common allergies.
The most common things you can do about a cat allergy are:
- clean up
- brush/groom and bathe the cat
- remove cat from environment
- take medicine
- install filters and purifiers
The biggest amount of allergic reaction is caused by the dander that cats spread with cat hair. Cat hair goes airborne and lands on all sorts of surfaces. In a cat with one or more cats the cat hairs and dander is everywhere. The only way to get rid of that is by cleaning all surfaces and especially the carpets, rugs, clothing and textile surfaces (sofa’s).
For a clean approach, choose wooden or non-carpeted surfaces in your home and have leather sofa’s. All surfaces should be easy to clean and need to be cleaned often. Daily cleaning to multi-daily cleaning is required for those with cat allergies.
When you are expecting someone to visit with a cat allergy, remove the cat from the environment and air the room. Clean the floors and surfaces thoroughly. This will do a great deal.
Brush / Groom & Bathe The Cat
Brushing / Grooming your cat will often reduce the amount of dander on the skin of the cat, which is the biggest cause for cat allergies.
Bathing your cat is probably even better, because it will remove a great deal of the saliva as well, which is also a common allergen.
Remove Cat From Environment
Like I said before, removing the cat from the environment where you are going to have someone with a cat allergy will greatly reduce the chance for more allergen to spread. We tend to have our cats in a separate room with their own water, food and litter box. Some of our cats prefer to be outside, but when they come inside they also end up in that room.
After removing the cats from the environment a thorough clean-out starts.
There are anti-allergic medicines available to those with cat allergies. Simpler over the counter medicine might be helpful, but in some cases stronger medicines are needed. We do not advise anything in this direction, so please contact your general practitioner for information on this.
Install Filters and Purifiers
There are HEPA and other filters available for air conditioning and other heating and ventilation systems as well as the more expensive air purifiers that can properly clean the air from allergens that will help those with cat allergy.
Are Some Cats Less Allergenic?
There appear to be some cat breeds that produce less of the fel d 1 and fel d 4 proteins, which means that those with cat allergies will be less likely to be affected.
There are however no cat breeds that are truly hypoallergenic and so those with cat allergies should always be aware of where cats are.
The best cats for people with allergies are:
- Colorpoint Short hair,
- Cornish Rex
- Devon Rex,
- Oriental Short hair,
- Russian Blue,
- Long-haired Siamese and
Female cats seem to produce a lower amount of allergens than male cats, while neutered male cats produce again a lower amount of allergens than non-neutered males.
So of above cats the female version should be the cat type with the lowest amount of allergens.
Still, it is best to take the level of allergy into account and to keep your house clean to reduce cat hair and dander.
What is your experience with your cats and people with allergies? Please share below in the comments section!