How to Understand the Facts about Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds
Many people believe that certain cat breeds are less likely to cause allergic reactions. While different factors can influence the degree of severity, there are facts that you should learn before getting a cat.
Step 1: Understand the word Understand that the prefix "hypo" means "less than." Cats that are referred to as hypoallergenic are assumed to produce fewer allergens than others. The fact, though, is that no cat is hypoallergenic. There are no legal regulations that define allergens, and all cats produce allergens.
Step 2: Know what makes a cat allergenic Learn that allergic reactions are caused by a protein in the cat's skin that is also secreted in the cat's saliva. Spread when cats lick themselves, the sticky protein adheres to dust particles, everything in your home, your clothes, and the cat's fur.
TIP: Cat allergens can remain in a home for up to 6 months after the cat is gone, and for up to four years in the cat's bedding.
Step 3: Don't believe the hype Don't be fooled into thinking that one breed is less allergenic than another. While many people claim that Rex breeds are hypoallergenic, up to 25 percent of Rex cats in shelters were owned by people who had allergic reactions to them.
Step 4: Don't get a Sphynx Don't get a Sphynx cat if you suffer from cat allergies. Many people believe that the Sphynx breed is hypoallergenic because the cats are hairless. Unfortunately, the breed still secretes the protein that causes allergic reactions.
Step 5: Understand differences Different people have different sensitivities to different cats. If you can, spend some time around different breeds until you find one that you seem to have consistently less of an allergic reaction to.
TIP: Significant variations in levels of allergens produced exists between individual cats, and levels can change throughout the day.
Step 6: Check the sex Check the sex of a cat before getting one. Female cats produce fewer allergens than male cats. But if you really want a male cat, know that neutered males also produce fewer allergens.
Step 7: Get a light-colored cat Still dying to adopt a kitty? Get a light-colored cat instead of a dark-colored one. One study found that dark cats were 4 times as likely to cause allergic reactions in patients as light-colored cats.
FACT: Up to 40 percent of asthma sufferers are sensitive to cats.