Allergy Friendly Cat Breeds
Nearly 10% of the population and almost 40% of allergic individuals have reactions to cats (and dogs). Allergies are often caused by dander and saliva. Allergy sufferers can choose for certain cat breeds to lower their allergic reactions.
Cats for Allergy Sufferers
Dear Simba - My daughter wants a kitten (and so do I). My mother-in-law is afraid the kitten may bring on an asthma attack!
Is there a domestic cat that does not shed that much and still has a lot of hair? We do not want a bald or extremely short-hair cat. Is there something to keep the shedding to a minimum? Also, is the hair actually the problem with allergies or is it the saliva? Do we have any hope in the world of getting a cat and making all happy? - Thank you, Deanna & Melissa
Siberian Cat. Photo by Arbilad (CC 3.0) Dear Deanna & Melissa - Getting a kitten can be wonderfully rich and rewarding experience for both of you. I hope that you find one that you can both grow and bond with. The answer to your questions is yes. People can be allergic to the hair. However, rather than fur, what triggers allergic reactions is proteins in the cat's saliva, urine and dander (dried flakes of skin).
Most allergic folks react negatively to a protein called Fel d1 (produced by the sebaceous glands) or Fel d4 (produced by saliva). A reasonable approach would be to get a medium to short-hair cat or a low Fel d1 producing cat like a Siberian, which is often sought out by allergy sufferers.
The other cause of allergic reactions is cat dander. Dander is like dandruff in people and is the result of dried flakes of skin. There are certain breeds that are light shedders (and short hairs)include the Siberian, Cornish Rex and Devon Rex that are low dander producers.
Cornish Rex. Photo: M.Gerver, Wikimedia Commons
Devon Rex. Izzy. Photo: J.Lester, (CC 2.0)
As to medications, while they sound promising, please discuss any treatment plans with your family doctor, since only he/she knows what will work. As you decide on a cat breed it would be good for you to spend some pre-adoption time your chosen cat's breeder / original home to get a sense of how your allergies will act up. Good luck! Simba
My husband and I have decided we want to adopt a kitten. My husband has allergies and we thought we would try a trial run. Would it be terrible to have a kitten in our home for a week, with the plan of sending him back for adoption if it does not work out? It seems that the only way to find out if we can have a pet is to try but I do not want to hurt the cat. Help! Carol
One good way to see whether your husband's allergies will be affected would be for you and your husband to spend a couple of hours with kittens at a local shelter or cattery, especially one that focuses on 'Allergy-Friendly' cats.
I do not think it would be fair for the kitten for you to take him home on a trial run. Being an infant, he will bond with you and see you as his parents. Rejection could adversely impact his future socialization. So go to a shelter or cattery, spend some time with kittens and let me know how things go. Simba
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