Cat Dander on the face of Jack – photo by grebo guru
Are there allergy free cats? I am allergic to a stray cat. It’s a shame ‘cus I love him. As soon as I touch him I feel itchy. I’ve got to wash my hands soon afterwards otherwise I feel itchy for a long time. I would like to get my own cat but I’m afraid that I’ll be allergic to him that’s why I’m asking this question. I am thinking of getting a purebred cat. Is there one that is best?
Admin: Thanks for your submission, “Allergy Free Cats?”. There is no such cat I am afraid to say, except for the now famous Allerca Cats (Life Style Pets Inc.). They say they have genetically engineered allergy free cats, a range of cats in fact. I discuss the Allerca cats on a separate page including the Chakan GD. Life Style Pets Inc. say they have satisfied customers. Some people criticize them, though.
I say there is no such thing as an allergy free cat but in my experience some cats do and some cats don’t cause an allergic reaction so there is definitely a difference in the strength of the allergen amongst individual cats. How do I know? Well, I have never been allergic to cats until Timmy walked in to my life. He is a stray, possibly feral cat and I only have to look at him to itch!
The cause of the allergy is an allergen called Fel d 1 which stands for Felis domesticus allergen 1. This protein is in the cat’s saliva (and therefore on the fur) and secreted from the perianal and the lachrymal glands. It is sometimes referred to as “cat dander”. Apparently black unneutered male cats are more likely to produce an allergic reaction, but I haven’t tested this. Maybe the stray cat you refer to is such a cat. Maybe if you adopt a rescue cat it shouldn’t be black or male but it will be neutered as rescue centers will ensure that this has happened.
Some purebred cats are alleged to be hypoallergenic or at least less likely to cause an allergic reaction. One such cat breed is the Siberian. Then there are the hairless cats (see Sphynx cats). Having very little hair might and should mean that there is less hair flying around the home spreading the dander. Cat dander will be pretty much everywhere in the home. So what can we do? Not a lot but some common sense things can help such as:
Symptoms of an allergy to cats are, itching, sneezing, wheezing and red eyes, typical allergic reactions. Apparently about 10% of people are allergic to cats but perhaps the symptoms are very mild for some as an estimated 10 million Americans are allergic, which is less than 10% of the population.
Some people think they are allergic to Siamese cats. I think not, it would be just a cat who happened to be a Siamese to which the person was allergic. Allergy Free Cats? No sorry but as I said some cats may not produce an allergic reaction so you might test this with the cat that you want to adopt.
Photo header: published under creative commons:
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