Many years I decided to adopt a hairless cat, called a Sphynx cat, figuring that would ease my pet allergies. It helped, but I still had allergy symptoms. Confused by this I decided to do some research to answer the question; can you still be allergic to hairless cats?
Yes, you can be allergic to hairless cats. A cat’s fur is not the source of your allergies. Someone with cat allergies is mainly sensitive to the protein Fel d 1, which is in a cat’s saliva, urine, and dander, not their fur. There is no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic cat and allergies will always be a possibility.
Fascinating answer right? So it’s true, hairless cats can cause just as many allergies as a cat full of hair. We’ll dive into the science behind why that is in this article, and also share some tips on how you can curb your cat allergies whether the cat is hairless or not!
How Do Cat Allergies Work
Cat allergies have nothing to do with a cat’s fur; instead, the cat’s saliva, urine, and dander (dead skin cells), are the real culprits. This explains why you might catch yourself sneezing around a Sphynx or other cat with little to no hair.
Even though a hairless cat like a Sphinx doesn’t shed physical hairs, the Fel D1 protein still remains on their skin. This means if you touch them and then touch your face, or are in close proximity, you can find yourself sneezing and getting watery eyes.
Your body normally recognizes these things as harmless, but people with cat allergies have an immune response because their bodies think they are dangerous. The side effects of your immune responses, when brought on by something we know isn’t harmful, are commonly known as allergies.
How Do You Know If You’re Allergic To Cats
This allergic reaction often causes symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, coughing, and itchy skin. Even if your cat is not currently in the room, you may find these reactions happening in a space they recently occupied. If your cat gets into any blankets or around furniture and you’re sneezing, you probably have cat allergies.
Other common symptoms can include watery and itchy eyes, as well as a skin rash. However, sometimes these can lead to other, more severe symptoms and should be closely monitored. These might include chest pain, wheezing, or difficulty breathing. Don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about pet allergies!
What is Fel d 1?
Although there are multiple cat allergens identified, Fel d 1 is the most prominent. An allergen is a type of protein made within the cat’s body, which is then secreted in different ways. All cats produce this allergen, even supposedly hypoallergenic cats, such as the sphinx breed. This is because it is mainly delivered through the cat’s skin, and there’s no such thing as a skinless cat!
Which Cats Produce The Least Fel d1?
Siberian cats and Balinese cats are renowned among cat owners as less likely to cause an allergic reaction because they naturally produce less Fel d 1. These cats are commonly called ‘hypoallergenic cats.’
Some cat breeds, including Balinese ancestry, may also produce less Fel d 1, as noted by National Geographic in 2019. Those breeds include Oriental Shorthair, Oriental Longhair, and Siamese cats. However, scientists are still working on verifying those claims, and currently, it is not known how true those rumors are.
Additionally, female cats tend to produce less than their male counterparts, and neutered males produce less than unneutered males. Despite that, they all produce enough to trigger an allergic reaction in a sensitive individual.
There are of course the Peterbald and Sphynx cats, two which are mostly hairless.
Are Sphynx cats hypoallergenic?
Not necessarily, any cat can potentially cause allergies. The length of a cat’s hair, or how much of it they shed, aren’t definitive factors for allergies.
Sphynx cats’ skin still secretes Fel d 1, the main allergen identified in cats. However, sphinx cats, and other hypoallergenic breeds, cause less severe symptoms and are less likely to induce allergic reactions in all but the most sensitive individuals. Some people may be able to manage to live with these cats, despite their allergies, if they’re willing to clean frequently and use allergy medications.
Do hairless cats cause allergic reactions?
It’s certainly possible. Hypoallergenic breeds, such as hairless cats, still produce the protein responsible for the allergic reactions in their urine, saliva, and dander. If the cat releases fewer proteins, the allergic reactions may be less severe or frequent than with other cats. However, simply by way of being a hairless cat does not guarantee someone won’t suffer from allergies.
Which cat breeds should be avoided for allergies?
Long-haired breeds, such as Persian cats or Maine Coons, can be challenging for people with cat allergies. With such long fur, they need almost constant grooming, which puts you in contact with their skin and dander more often. Not to mention, they’re a lot of work! These types of cats usually have dense fur, which can lead to excessive shedding. The loose fur left around your home can hold allergens in addition to making your house messier.
Other breeds to beware of include: Norwegian Forest cats, Cymrics, Himalayan cats, and Ragamuffin cats.
Can you be allergic to one cat, but not another?
Of course! Since what triggers the allergy is the proteins in a cat’s saliva, urine, and dander, one cat is quite capable of producing fewer proteins than another. While technically both cats do provoke a response from your immune system, you might notice the minor symptoms from one cat while the other causes noticeable symptoms.
Can you build an immunity to cat allergies?
It is possible to build an immunity to cat allergies. Some people see their symptoms decrease over the years if you are a cat owner. You may likely not see a complete lack of allergic reactions from contact with a cat’s saliva or urine (especially if your cat tends to scratch or bite), you may experience fewer symptoms associated with allergies or less powerful reactions.
Instead of continually sneezing from sharing a house with a cat, you might find that you only sneeze when your feline companion chooses to share your lap or cuddle. However, if your allergic reaction is strong, trying to wait out, the symptoms may have severe consequences. Always discuss your symptoms with your doctor if you’re not sure.
Can you suddenly develop cat allergies
Yes, you can suddenly develop cat allergies. This is the case even if you haven’t had allergies before, and it can vary from one cat to the next. It’s possible to be allergic to one cat, but not another of the same breed.
Various types of allergies can have sudden onsets and happen at any time throughout your life. Even people who grew up with cats might find that after they move away and live without cats for years, they develop new allergies to cats. Sometimes you won’t know that you’ve developed the allergy until you go to adopt a new cat into your home!
How to cope with cat allergies
Being allergic to cats can be disappointing at first, however there are workarounds. Even if you have the most annoying of allergies, taking a few steps to cat-proof your home, keep it clean, and choose a specific breed can all make a huge impact.
There are many ways to cope with allergies, but here are a few to consider:
• Frequent hand washing after being with a cat, especially before touching your face. This helps minimize contact between more sensitive areas of your body and the allergens from the cat.
• Keeping the cat confined to certain areas of the house and out of your bedroom. Although dander can easily be transferred on soft surfaces and become airborne, having certain rooms be kept cat-free can give you a safe haven if you begin to have trouble breathing.
• Frequent cleaning to lower the cat dander levels in the air and on soft surfaces, such as blankets, rugs, or curtains. Installing an air filter and using a special vacuum can also be helpful.
• Over the counter or prescription medications, usually decongestants or antihistamines, can relieve the symptoms of cat allergies. Benadryl and Zyrtec are good options, although you should always check with your doctor before starting a new medicinal regimen.
• Feeding the cat a high quality, hearty diet will help keep its fur healthy and minimize dander. Some wipes can be purchased or recommended by your vet that can replace the need for a bath and still reduce your cat’s dander.
• Some people suggest physically bathing your cat. While this is an excellent way to clean up the dander, it might not be worth the hassle since most cats loathe being wet! Just be sure to use special pet shampoos or something approved by your vet.
My name is James, and welcome to FAQCats!
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