Everything About Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds
You suffer from allergies but miss the company of a feline. Who can you turn to for advice before making a decision? What environmental factors should you consider? Are there hypoallergenic cat breeds?
All the answers are in this post.
Before adopting a hypoallergenic cat: consultation with an allergist
It is important to determine what substances you are allergic to and how severe your allergy is.
Cat allergy triggers rhinitis, conjunctivitis, or asthma. A small amount of the allergen can cause severe respiratory problems that can worsen if you are exposed to the allergen continuously. These disorders require medication such as antihistamines and/or corticosteroids. It appears that hair desensitization techniques are not yet effective.
Among the 7 identified cat allergens, it is the FEL D1 protein that most frequently causes disorders:
– It is secreted by the sebaceous glands of the skin, the peri-anal glands, salivary glands, and lacrimal glands.
– So, by taking care of your cat, its litter box, and your house, you risk being in contact with its secretions and to develop more or less serious symptoms.
Good to know: a risk of cross-allergy also exists if you eat pork.
Before making a decision, expose yourself to the conditions you may face if you live with a cat: visit friends who own cats and visit the cattery of the breed you are interested in. Then talk to an allergist about your symptoms.
Hypoallergenic cat breeds
The term hypoallergenic means “less allergenic”. Some breeds produce the FEL D1 protein in lower amounts, while other breeds have no hair or down or do not shed, which reduces hair shedding and the protein spread in the home.
According to Indoor Biotechnologies, the only laboratory in the world that sells test kits to measure FEL D1 levels in cat saliva, there are no scientific studies to support the fact that breeders have succeeded in creating hypoallergenic breeds. Many veterinarians also refute this claim.
Breeding hypoallergenic cats require skills and techniques that breeders do not have at their disposal now. So we can give credit to the breeds presenting a particularity on the fur but not yet on the production of FEL D1:
– The Korat and the Balinese: they do not have down, and they lose their hair less.
– The Sphynx: is a cat with hairless skin without hair.
– The Devon rex and the Siberian: They would secrete lower levels of FEL D1 protein.
– Cornish rex: does not shed, and no hair is found in the house.
Note: unneutered male cats are reported to have higher levels of FEL D1. Neutering both male and female cats is always the best recommendation when you want to live with a cat.
Home and cat hygiene
If your symptoms are tolerable and you have made your decision, here are some hygiene tips to reduce your contact with the allergen. Allergens are found on the cat’s hair when it grooms itself, but also in its tears, on its skin, in its urine, and in its feces.
The idea is to ask a third person to take care of the cat, in particular to:
– brushing him and cleaning his eyes, if possible, outside the house;
– cleaning its litter box: if you have to do it alone, prefer the use of a plastic bag to put in the bottom of the litter box, just throw it away;
– Take him to the vet: it seems that under stress, the levels of allergens increase in the secretions.
Arrangement of the house
Set up a room where cats are not allowed, such as your bedroom. For example: during your 8 hours of sleep, you will not be exposed to allergens. Be careful with the layout of the room: no carpets, rugs, or clothes. Install your dressing room elsewhere.
For your feline’s rest, buy removable cushions or carpets made of thermo-regulating material that retains the hair well to prevent it from spreading throughout the house. Wash them at least once a week.
Make sure your dog spends as much time as possible in the garden or on the patio.
Buy several ceramic dishes that are dishwasher-safe. It is essential to wash them every day.
Use HEPA filters for your vacuum cleaner and air it out while you vacuum (best to have someone else do it for you). Vacuum everywhere, in every nook and cranny, and every day if possible.
Always have hair rollers to remove hair from your clothes.
Please note: if you had a cat before your child was born and your child is unfortunately allergic to cats, don’t deprive the rest of the family of its presence by giving it up for adoption: set up a small cottage in your garden and forbid it from entering the house.
Hypoallergenic cats: new research
Two American companies are working on the creation of cats that would not produce the incriminated protein. They are trying to remove the gene that produces FEL D1.
However, this work is criticized because, until today, we do not know why the cat produces this protein, and the advances could be contrary to the well-being of the cat.