Hypoallergenic is a term that means there is less likelihood that something will cause an allergic reaction. This is a common concern for people with allergies when they are looking for a pet, whether it be a dog or cat.
There are several breeds of cats that are considered to be hypoallergenic which means cat lovers with allergies can still enjoy the love and company of a cat without suffering from typical pet-induced allergy attacks.
What causes an allergic reaction from cats?
When most people think of cat allergies, they think of cat hair. This is a popular misconception, however. Allergic reactions are not triggered by cat hair but rather by a protein known as Fel d 1.
This protein is found in the saliva, urine and on the dander of the cat and can become airborne or make contact with humans in different ways. The most common mode of contact is through the air on the flakes of dander.
Dander is tiny flakes of skin cells that stick to the cat’s fur. When a cat grooms itself, the Fel d 1 protein is transferred from its saliva to its hair as well as the tiny flakes of dander already stuck in its hair. When dander becomes airborne, it is inhaled and can trigger allergic reactions.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction include sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, coughing, wheezing, or a red rash where a cat may have licked or scratched the surface of the skin.
What makes a cat hypoallergenic?
Although there is no cat that is completely hypoallergenic, there are several cats that produce a lot less allergens which constitutes a hypoallergenic cat. Other factors that also play a role in how many allergens a cat produces include:
• Light colored cats produce fewer allergens than dark
• Female cats produce fewer allergens than males
• Neutered males produce fewer allergens than a non-neutered male
• Kittens produce fewer allergens than mature cats
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Best cat breeds for allergies
• Sphynx – The Sphynx is the breed that is often referred to as hairless. Although it looks naked, it actually has a layer of soft down hair covering its body. What makes the Sphynx hypoallergenic is the fact that it requires regular bathing to keep its skin condition in good health which reduces the amount of dander it carries on its skin and down hair.
• Siberian – The Siberian has long luxurious fur which is the opposite of what you would think would fit the hypoallergenic list. The Siberian falls in the hypoallergenic category due to the lower levels of the Fel d 1 protein it produces.
• The Bengal – The Bengal’s fur is thick and dense which means less shedding around the house. Less shedding means fewer allergens being distributed into the air, on the furniture and floors.
• The Balinese – The Balinese has long, thick fur but is one of the breeds that produces lower levels of the Fel d 1 protein. This is what makes the Balinese a hypoallergenic breed.
• The Javanese – The Javanese has one single layer of fur – no undercoat to mat or shed. This reduction of fur means less shedding and ultimately fewer allergens.
• The Devon Rex – The Devon Rex is not only short haired but has less hair than many breeds of cats which translates to less shedding and fewer dispersed allergens about your home.