There are many myths and wives tail surrounding the idea of a hypo allergenic cat.
But is there really such a thing, and if so does that mean everyone with a cat allergy can enjoy a cat in their household? Yes and no.
There is no truly 100% hypoallergenic cats or cat breeds. The good news is that for the majority of cat allergy sufferers there is hope. If you are educated and do your research the majority of cat allergic people can find a cat or kitten that doesn’t trigger terrible symptoms.
The main culprit in cat allergies, is the FEL D1 protein. This protein is found in the oil glands of the skin, in the saliva, and to a lesser extent the lacrimal and perianal glands. While there are 8 different identified cat allergens, FEL D1 is responsible for 90% of allergies.
There are certain breeds that have less of this protein, notably, the Siberian Forest Cat. This breed is a longhair that originates in Russia. It was found that many people with terrible cat allergies had little to no reaction to this cat breed. It has since been the topic of an independent research study of over 300 cats sampled. The result was that in fact the majority of them had very low to low levels for allergens in the saliva. Light colored, and spayed and neutered having even less. Silver colored intact adults had the highest amount.
Other breeds that may have lower allergens are the Balinese, Javanese, Oriental Shorthair, Cornish and Devon Rex, and the hairless Sphynx. These breeds have either less FEL D1, or have oily skin and coats that help the allergens to stay in the coat and not the environment.
What steps should an allergy sufferer take to insure a good cat match?
You can have an individual kitten tested for allergen levels. Most Siberian breeders can do this for an extra fee. Many breeders have tested all the breeding cats and proudly display each cats allergen levels along with any health clearances they have done.
Often breeders will allow home visits, or will send you a cloth that has been around the cats for a long period of time. That way you can test out your reaction before making a purchase. This is very important to do as well, because you may be allergic to one of the other 7 allergens cats carry.
Even if you do find a cat that fits and doesn’t trigger moderate to severe symptoms, it’s common to have mild allergy symptoms for a few weeks while getting adjusted to the very low to low levels the more hypoallergenic cat has. It is very important to speak to your doctor before thinking about adding a kitten to the family if you have allergies, they can also guide you on steps to take to ease the transition for you and kitty.