A few years ago, I made the choice to adopt a hairless cat, known as a Sphynx cat, thinking that it would help with my pet allergies. While it did provide some relief, I still experienced allergy symptoms. This left me puzzled, so I conducted some research to find out if it’s possible to be allergic to hairless cats.
Certainly, it is possible to have an allergy to hairless cats. The cause of your allergies is not the cat’s fur. People who are allergic to cats are primarily sensitive to a protein called Fel d 1, which is found in a cat’s saliva, urine, and dander, rather than their fur. It’s important to note that there is no cat that is completely hypoallergenic, and the possibility of allergies always exists.
Isn’t that interesting? So, it’s actually true that hairless cats can cause just as many allergies as cats with fur. In this article, we’ll explore the scientific reasons behind this and provide some tips on how you can manage your cat allergies, regardless of whether the cat has hair or not!
How Do Cat Allergies Work
Allergies to cats are not caused by their fur, but rather by their saliva, urine, and dander (dead skin cells). This is why you may find yourself sneezing around a Sphynx or another cat with minimal hair.
Although hairless cats like the Sphinx don’t have fur, they still have the Fel D1 protein on their skin. So if you touch them and then touch your face, or if you’re near them, you might start sneezing and get watery eyes.
Usually, your body doesn’t see these things as a threat, but if you have a cat allergy, your immune system reacts as if they are dangerous. The reactions caused by your immune system when it mistakenly identifies harmless things as harmful are called allergies.
How Do You Know If You’re Allergic To Cats
Experiencing symptoms such as sneezing, a runny nose, coughing, and itchy skin is a common allergic reaction. These reactions can occur even if your cat is not present in the room, but has recently been in that space. If you find yourself sneezing when your cat has been around blankets or furniture, it is likely that you have cat allergies.
Additional symptoms may involve eyes that are watery and itchy, along with a rash on the skin. However, in certain cases, these symptoms can progress to more serious ones and should be carefully observed. These could include experiencing chest pain, wheezing, or having trouble breathing. It’s important to have a conversation with your doctor regarding allergies to pets!
What is Fel d 1?
While there are various allergens found in cats, Fel d 1 is the most common one. An allergen is a protein produced by cats and released in different ways. All cats, including supposedly hypoallergenic ones like the sphinx breed, produce this allergen. This is because it is primarily transmitted through the cat’s skin, and there is no such thing as a cat without skin!
Which Cats Produce The Least Fel d1?
Siberian cats and Balinese cats are well-known to cat owners for being less likely to trigger allergies because they naturally produce less Fel d 1. These cats are often referred to as ‘hypoallergenic cats.’
According to National Geographic in 2019, certain cat breeds like Balinese ancestry may produce less Fel d 1. These breeds include Oriental Shorthair, Oriental Longhair, and Siamese cats. However, scientists are still in the process of confirming these claims, and it is currently unclear how accurate these rumors are.
Female cats typically produce less allergenic substances compared to male cats, and neutered male cats produce less than unneutered males. However, even with these differences, all cats still produce enough allergens to cause an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals.
There are, of course, the Peterbald and Sphynx cats, which are mostly without fur.
Are Sphynx cats hypoallergenic?
Nope, it doesn’t matter if a cat has hair or not, any cat can make you allergic. Whether a cat has long hair or sheds a lot doesn’t determine if you’ll have allergies or not.
Hairless cats, like Sphynx cats, still produce the main allergen found in cats called Fel d 1. However, these hypoallergenic breeds, including Sphynx cats, tend to cause milder symptoms and are less likely to trigger allergic reactions in most people, except for those who are extremely sensitive. Some individuals may be able to coexist with these cats even if they have allergies, as long as they are willing to clean regularly and use allergy medications.
Do hairless cats cause allergic reactions?
Yes, it is possible. Hairless cats, which are considered hypoallergenic breeds, still produce the protein that causes allergic reactions in their urine, saliva, and dander. While these cats may release fewer proteins, it does not guarantee that someone won’t experience allergies just because the cat is hairless.
Which cat breeds should be avoided for allergies?
People who are allergic to cats may find it difficult to be around long-haired breeds like Persian cats or Maine Coons. These cats require regular grooming due to their long fur, which means more contact with their skin and dander. Additionally, these breeds tend to shed a lot, leaving loose fur around the house that can trap allergens and make the home messier. Taking care of these cats can be quite demanding!
You should also be cautious of other breeds such as Norwegian Forest cats, Cymrics, Himalayan cats, and Ragamuffin cats.
Can you be allergic to one cat, but not another?
Yes, definitely! The reason why people have allergies to cats is because of the proteins found in their saliva, urine, and dander. It’s possible for one cat to produce fewer proteins than another, which means that you may experience milder symptoms with one cat compared to another. However, both cats can still trigger a response from your immune system.
Can you build an immunity to cat allergies?
You can develop a resistance to cat allergies. If you own a cat, you might notice that your symptoms improve over time. While you may still have some allergic reactions from coming into contact with a cat’s saliva or urine (especially if your cat scratches or bites), you may have fewer allergy symptoms or less severe reactions.
Rather than constantly sneezing because of living with a cat, you may discover that you only sneeze when your cat decides to sit on your lap or cuddle with you. However, if your allergic reaction is severe, waiting for the symptoms to go away could have serious consequences. It’s always important to talk to your doctor about your symptoms if you’re unsure.
Can you suddenly develop cat allergies
Absolutely, it’s totally possible to suddenly get allergies to cats. Even if you’ve never had allergies before, it can happen, and it may differ from one cat to another. You might be allergic to one cat but not to another cat of the same breed.
Different kinds of allergies can occur suddenly and at any point in your life. Even individuals who were raised with cats may discover that after they move out and live without cats for a long time, they develop new allergies to cats. Occasionally, you may not realize that you have developed the allergy until you decide to bring a new cat into your home!
How to cope with cat allergies
Having an allergy to cats can be a bummer at first, but there are ways to deal with it. Even if you have a really bothersome allergy, you can take some measures to make your home cat-friendly, keep it tidy, and select a particular breed, all of which can make a big difference.
There are numerous methods to deal with allergies, but here are a couple of options to think about:
• It’s important to wash your hands often after being around a cat, especially before touching your face. This helps reduce contact between sensitive parts of your body and the allergens from the cat.
• To prevent breathing difficulties, you can designate specific areas in your house where your cat is not allowed, such as your bedroom. While cat dander can still be transferred to soft surfaces and become airborne, having cat-free rooms can provide a safe space for you.
To reduce the amount of cat dander in the air and on soft surfaces like blankets, rugs, or curtains, it’s important to clean regularly. You can also consider using an air filter and a special vacuum for added help.
• You can use over-the-counter or prescribed medicines like decongestants or antihistamines to alleviate the signs of cat allergies. Benadryl and Zyrtec are effective choices, but it’s important to consult your doctor before beginning any new medication routine.
• To maintain a healthy fur and reduce dander, it is important to feed your cat a nutritious and substantial diet. Your veterinarian may suggest using certain wipes that can be used instead of giving your cat a bath to further minimize dander.
• Some people recommend giving your cat a bath as a way to get rid of dander, but it might not be worth it because most cats really don’t like getting wet! Just make sure to use pet shampoos that are specifically made for cats or something that your vet approves of.