Do you love cats but are allergic to them?
For those cat lovers among us whose allergies up to now have made it impossible to coexist with them, there is hope at the end of the itchy/runny nose tunnel. Read on to learn more about hypoallergenic cats and the seven breeds of hypoallergenic cats that can live in harmony with their sensitive owners. I've highlighted some of the considerations in deciding if a hypoallergenic cat is right for you and some of the key traits and information to help you compare and decide which hypoallergenic cat would work best for you and your family.
Why Are Some People Allergic To Cats?
Research conducted by the US National Institute of Health
has estimated that 10 percent of Americans are allergic to household pets with
cat allergies being twice as common as those involving dogs. The reason for
this is due to the size and shape of the protein molecule known as Fel-D1, which is found in the sebaceous glands of cats.
Mark Larché, an immunology professor at McMaster University in Ontario, states:
"Dog allergens don't stay airborne the same way cat allergens do. The particle
size is just right to breathe deep into your lungs."
How does Fel-D1 affect
This protein is found in cat saliva and is
quite small. Nevertheless, it wreaks havoc with allergy sufferers. When a cat
cleans itself by licking its coat, the protein attaches to the animal's dander, which
flakes off and becomes airborne. It can linger in the air for hours, much
longer than dog allergens. Fel-D1 is very sticky and it can glom onto
clothes as well as human skin. It is so powerful that according to Larché, it
has even been found in the Arctic where there are no cats!
If you find yourself allergic to the cat you have, you can visit with an allergist. They may be able to provid you with medication to reduce you allergic reaction or allergy symptons.
Factors Affecting The Production of Allergens
All cats produce the Fel-D1 protein,
which is important to know because it means that no breed of cat is totally
hypoallergenic. Intact male cats tend to produce more of this protein than neutered
males and females and some experts believe this may have something to do with
pheromone signaling. Although no one knows why, darker colored cats tend to
produce more Fel-D1 than light-colored ones.
Kittens produce fewer allergens than adult cats.
How To Get Or Buy A Hypoallergenic Cat
It will be very difficult to get or adopt a hypoallergenic cat from a pet shelter since they are highly sought after so
if you want to acquire one, you will have to purchase them. You can try search for online adopt a cat services like this one. I've tried to give a general range of prices to purchase the various cat breeds and cost of maintenance if they are significantly higher than the costs of having a cat in general to help you decide if a particular cat breed will work for you. Some breed
will be much more difficult to find than others.
To buy a hypoallergenic
cat, search on the web for a reputable cat breeders in your area for the
particular type of cat you want to purchase. Make sure to do diligent research on your cat breeder and ensure that the breeder is honest and has an excellent track record. Make sure they actually have the breed of cat you are looking for, that the cat is healthy and that it is not a mixed breed cat. Make sure to do a Better
Business Search on the breeder to see if there are any complaints before
purchasing your cat. There are many internet scam sites and bad breeders out there so absolutely do your research and if it seems to good to be true, it is probably a scam.
If it is possible, spend some time with the cat
of your chose to see if you have an allergic reaction to your chosen
cat. People will react differently to different cats, so unless you spend sufficient time with one, you will not know how you will react to them. So before you spend a lot of money getting a new cat, make sure the cat will not create a strong allergic reaction for you. If you can't spend time with the cat, ask the cat breeder for cat hair samples first.
Types of Hypoallergenic Cats
As I mentioned before, right now, there are no completely hypoallergenic cats. There are however a handful of cat breeds that are lower in allergen or just called
hypoallergenic for easy reference, which translates into producing ‘fewer' allergens but not an
absence of them. The seven most prominent hypoallergenic cat breeds are: the
Siberian, the Balinese, the Javanese,Cornish Rex; Devon Rex, Oriental
Shorthair and the Sphynx. They differ in difficult and cost of purchasing the cat, the annual costs of properly caring for the cat and the general disposition and personality of the cat as well as the needs of the cat and the types of homes they will best thrive in.
Siberian Forest Cat
The national cat of Russia is a naturally occurring breed,
which reflects the cold climate in which it developed. This beautiful feline
comes in many diverse colors and often has two different colored eyes. For the
last thousand years, the Siberian has been featured in the nation's art,
literature and legends. The breed is known for its loyal, loving nature and
rich, full, water-repellent coat, which requires little to no maintenance. These
large and very beautiful cats were first imported to the United States in 1990.
Statistics indicate that due to the lower-than-average enzyme levels in their
saliva, 75 percent of cat allergy sufferers have no reaction to the Siberian.
This breed enjoys the company of children, dogs, and other animals. The average price range for a Siberian kitten is $900-$1600 with
allowances made for regional differences and practices such as early altering
which includes the cost of spay or neuter in the price.
2. The Balinese Cat
Also known as the "long-haired Siamese," the Balinese produce less of the Fel-D1 protein than other cats, thus causing fewer
allergic reactions in allergy sufferers. Highly social and agile, these cats
are smart, sweet and very vocal. Their name derives from Helen Smith, one of
the founders of the breed, who combined the prefix Bali from the graceful movements
and sleek lines of dancers from the Isle of Bali with the suffix ‘ese' from the
The most unique physical characteristic of this breed is
its silky, angora-like coat, which is only 1.5 inch long
towards the end of its body. It is also the reason this cat is
considered hypoallergenic. The fur consists of only a
single coat, which decreases the frequency of molting. The Balinese excrete
saliva at a lower molecular weight than other felines, which also reduces the
likelihood of an allergic reaction.
Balinese are very playful and get along well with children and a wide variety of other
animals (birds, dogs, reptiles etc.) Minimal cost for a kitten is $250.00. Registered cats from reputable
breeders are more expensive, as they are 'show quality' cats and kittens.
3. The Javanese
Although most cat registries consider the Javanese to be
an extension of the Balinese, the Cat Fanciers Association does recognize these
cars as a distinct breed with the main difference between the two being a
larger range of acceptable colors. Like its Balinese and Siamese counterparts,
the Javanese is known as a pointed cat, which means the body color, which tends
to darken with age, is lighter than that found on the face, legs and tail.
Points refer to the darker colors.
The Javanese have a medium long single coat that sheds
little and doesn't mat, thus releasing less dander to spread around your home.
The lack of an undercoat means less fur and fewer allergens.
The Javanese cat only
requires grooming once or twice a year and is agile, extremely playful and
intelligent. A kitten costs
between $900-$1,200 and about $800 per year to maintain it.
A breed that
dates back to 1950 and is the result of crossbreeding between the Siamese,
Abyssinian, and the Russian Blue, the Oriental Shorthair comes in more than 300
different colors and patterns. All Orientals share the same angular face, large,
expressive eyes, long, lithe bodies and very short, fine coats with only
minimal shedding. They are extremely affectionate and thrive on attention.
Curious and intelligent, they are wonderful with children and other pets. With
regular grooming to keep dander at bay, most people with cat allergies report
good results with this breed.
These cats have more colors and patterns than any other breed. They are known to become jealous or even
territorial with their human companions. The average cost of a kitten ranges
from $200 - $650.
Devon and Cornish Rex
A natural mutation originating in England back in the late
1950s, the Devon Rex has the eyes of an imp, the face of an elf and ears that
seem to come from outer space. It
is an intensely loyal, highly playful and fun-loving breed with a soft, short,
and curly coat, which does not shed as much as other breeds. This translates
into fewer allergens distributed around your home. It is said that a Devon Rex
owns its master rather than the other way around, as they are tireless
playmates and companions.
These cats are known for
their voracious appetites. They will gladly eat their meals, your meals and anything else that they can get into. Breeders
usually make Devon Rex kittens available between the ages of 14 to 16 weeks, and quality
kittens cost anywhere from $ 800 to about $1,200 or more.
6. The Cornish Rex
The Cornish Rex has an egg-shaped head with high
cheekbones and large ears. The coat is longer and curlier than the Devon and
requires more frequent baths (2-3 times per week) to alleviate the buildup of oil on the skin. The coat is very soft to the touch and
these cats are affectionate and very active. Despite the frequent bathing, this
breed still sheds less than most traditional breeds and is beneficial (or at
least not harmful) to allergy sufferers.
The Cornish Rex is a very sturdy breed and makes a perfect pet for the owner who desires an active cat to participate in family life. They love being handled by their owners and maintain their kitten-like attitudes well into old age. These cats are best suited in a home where they will receive love and constant companionship. Pricing usually depends on type, applicable marking and bloodlines and a Cornish Rex kitten can cost anywhere between $200 to $250 with an average maintenance cost of $1,050.
7. The Sphynx
While this breed seems to be hairless, appearances can be
deceiving. The skin on Sphynx cats is actually covered with a very fine almost
invisible covering of down that renders the texture of chamois to the skin.
This breed requires frequent baths to remove the buildup of oil. Their
personalities are adorable and they are gifted aerialists who can jump like
monkeys from the top of doorways and shelves. Devoted and loyal, these
cats demand almost constant attention from their loving owners.
This extroverted breed is rare and suitable for a home with children and other animals, both dogs and cats. They are inquisitive, require above average grooming and love to play all the time. The average cost of a kitten starts about $750.
So do any of these 7 breeds of hypoallergenic cats seem like a good match for you?
How To Reduce Allergic Reactions To Your Cat
Whether or not you have selected a hypoallergenic cat, if
you are allergic to cats generally you will still have minimize the allergens present in your
home so that you can reduce any potential allergic reactions to your cat. The following are several tips and products that can help you reduce the allergens you are exposed to:
1. Research has indicated that brushing and frequent baths of your cat with cool, distilled water (2-times per week) and/or a safe, non-drying herbal
animal shampoo can remove up to 84% of existing allergens and reduce their
future reduction as well. It is also helpful to simply take a wet wash cloth to wipe down your cat when you can't give them a bath.
2. Wash cat toys and cat bedding once a week to help reduce
3. Wash you own bedding once a week in hot water.
3. Wash your hands after handling your cat.
4. Clean the surfaces of your home often. There are great upright vacuums and smaller handheld vacuums that excel in handling pet hair and dander. Make sure that your vacuum that the vaccum you get is allergy certified and/or has a hepa filter.
5. Select only anti-inflammatory grain-free and species-appropriate
food for your cat. Reducing or eliminating allergenic and genetically
modified foods in turn decreases the allergenic quality of the cat's saliva.
6. Make sure your cat is consuming optimal levels of
essential fatty acids to reduce shedding and dander. We recommend Zesty Paws Salmon Oil.
Sharing your life with a cat is a joyful and fulfilling
experience that allergy sufferers up until now have been forced to do without.
Do your homework and select the breed that best suits your life style and
personality needs. Remember too, there's help out there along that itchy dander
trail and a happy horizon beyond for those who want a lovely cat to love.
Closing thoughts about cats and allergies...
If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put
that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats.~ Lemony Snicket, The Wide Window