Have allergies or your fear of them kept you from enjoying the delights of have cats in your life? Cheer up. There are hypoallergenic cats out there and strategies to deal with allergies no matter what breed you own.
The popularity of cats as pets has ballooned, and as appreciation for them as fun companions grows, so has interest in hypoallergenic cats.
The more we learned about cats, their playfulness, their willingness to be friends and how low maintenance they were, especially compared to dogs, those of us who wheezed and itched in their presence demanded alternatives. We didn’t want to give up on sharing our lives with these amazing critters. We wanted ways to overcome the obstacle of allergies.
Fortunately, a few have been found. Safe to say, there’s no reason why most homes can’t comfortably enjoy the company of a cat or cats. Being selective in your choice of breeds and/or making some minor adjustments can make a huge difference.
Hypoallergenic cats weren’t something I thought much about. One of the best cats I’ve ever known actually came into our lives because a family with many beloved cats had a child who developed allergies to cats or more correctly, cat dander.
The family had to give up their cats and conscientiously managed it by putting them up for adoption with their vet and the local Humane Society, which is where we met George. George was such an amazing cat, I can only imagine the pain the family must have felt to have let go of him along with his brothers and sisters.
If you want a houseful of cats and hope to avoid allergy issues, that’s probably not going to work, unless you clean incessantly, which means no time to enjoy the cats. It’s unlikely to work out, but almost every other scenario is possible.
As I wrote in hypoallergenic earrings, hypoallergenic means not as likely to cause allergic reactions, not complete avoidance of them. So, use some caution. Few things are sadder than bringing home a cat, falling in love with it and finding you have to return it as your eyes begin to burn and the urge to sneeze makes you life a daily misery.
You may have to settle for a tolerably hypoallergenic cat, not one that leaves you 100% free of sneezes, wheezes and shortness of breath. Sharing your life with a loving, playful, always curious and amusing feline may be worth a little inconvenience.
What Makes A Cat An Allergy Factory?
Part of being a cat means having what is known as Fel d 1 and Fel d 4. These are two of five known allergens produced by cats, the two most likely to get you scratching and sneezing, with Fel d 4 seeming to be the most widespread.
Note: For all the awareness of cat allergies, youd surprised how little real knowledge there really is and how inconclusive is the research. Ill try to stick with what is considered most accurate and let you know where things aren’t as clear.
So, Fel d 4, lipocalin, is found in a cat’s salivary glands. When a cat grooms, the allergen is transferred to his or her fur where it dries into particles even smaller than common dust. It gets into all kinds of fabric and floats around your rooms. What you dont breath will probably be waiting for you in your curtains or bedspread.
Youre about as likely to stop your cat from grooming they really are meticulously clean animals as long as they’re healthy as you are to walk on the moon. With happy cats, grooming can be seen as a message about well-being.
So, realistically, as a hopeful cat owner, you have the following two real options, the most likely being a truly hypoallergenic cat.
Watch this video about one of the great hypoallergenic cats possibilities.
Option #1: If Not A Hypoallergenic Cat, What Else Can I Do?
Focused housecleaning and some other strategies may help.
Since the allergens most likely to cause you discomfort are the ones that have become minuscule dust around your home, controlling them may bring major improvements. This means daily dusting and regular vacuuming of furniture, curtains and carpet. If you have central air, keeping your filter cleaner than clean helps.
Some have suggested doing away with carpets in your home and replacing curtains with decorative blinds. Non-fabric furniture will not retain as much trouble causing particles, since allergens are less likely to cling to wood and leather.
This may not be acceptable for many people for whom home decor matters a great deal.
Other suggestions include brushing and combing your cat frequently to reduce allergens in the fur, making them easier to dust or vacuum away.
If youre very brave or lucky with a cat who tolerates them, you can bathe your cat a couple of times a week. Hatred for being in water is basic for most cats and can turn a gentle companion into a raging escape artist. If so, a professional groomer may be better.
Studies suggest that improved food for your cat may also lead to a lessening of allergens.
Option #2: Hypoallergenic Cats For Your Home
Hypoallergenic cats are controversial. The range of opinion is broad. It goes from There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat breed to Were really not sure all the way up to one group that claims to have genetically cultivated one.
The good news is that clinical studies and cat owner experience have shown very positive results for several breeds of cats recognized as genuinely hypoallergenic for at least some people. But let me remind you again, hypoallergenic does not mean not allergenic, just dramatically less so.
The choice of hypoallergenic cats goes from the popular Sphinx hairless breed (hypoallergenic for obvious reasons, but oily and needing regular baths like you and me) to the wonderfully long-haired Siberian cats, which are gorgeous animals with naturally lower allergen levels.
I happen to know a couple of Siberians well, and they are as beautiful and playful as any cat breed. No need to miss out on the fun.
With any of the breeds of hypoallergenic cats, your personal experience will guide you. Since youll most likely get your cat from a breeder, try to find one who is willing to offer a trial period.
Suggestions For Hypoallergenic Cats
I’m not allergic to cats or dogs and have been lucky to find great cats in shelters, each eager and grateful for a loving home. But friends and others we’ve known through cat-sitting have had great success with Korats and Siberians.
Thats great news because Korats, known as good luck cat in their native Thailand, are short-hairs full of energy and ready for fun. They are a beautiful blue-gray and have the smarts and appearance of Siamese.
The Korats we know are also cunning, curious, playful and generally irresistible.
My friends with two beautiful Siberian cats couldnt be happier with their complex personalities, sweetness and adventurousness. These are among the few cats I know who love walking outdoors on leashes, exploring everything.
Other breeds often cited as working for people with cat allergies are Balinese, Javenese, Rex Cats and Oriental Short-hairs.
Do a little research and shopping around. Chances are you’ll find a hypoallergenic cat with which you can share your home comfortably. A few accommodations may be necessary, but if youre like me, the joy of having a cat or cats in your life is well worth a little compromise.
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