Birman cats are popular among cat lovers because of their calm nature and their distinctive looks. Their relaxed temperament makes them good family pets. However, since some family members may be prone to cat allergic reactions, it is essential to check first before you decide if having a Birman cat is the best option.
Are Birman cats hypoallergenic?
No, Birman cats are not hypoallergenic. However, Birman cats may cause fewer allergic reactions compared to other breeds since they produce fewer allergens. They have medium to long fur and do not have an undercoat so they shed less fur as well as fewer allergens and are less prone to matting.
Nevertheless, it is worth noting that no cat breed is actually hypoallergenic and the term itself is considered a misnomer since even hairless cat breeds like the Sphynx still produce allergens. This means that they may still cause allergic reactions.
What causes allergic reactions to cats?
The main culprit of cat allergic reactions is a certain glycoprotein called Fel d 1 that is found in the cat’s skin, urine and saliva. This allergen multiplies on your cat’s fur and spreads in the environment through tiny flakes of skin or dander. All cats produce this allergen as there are no cats that are 100% hypoallergenic. These allergenics may affect people even if the cat is gone as they can linger around for months.
These are the common symptoms of cat allergies:
- hives or rashes on the face and chest
- wheezing and coughing
- red and itchy eyes
- runny, itchy and stuffy nose
- redness of the skin where a cat licked, scratched or bitten you
The symptoms may develop in a few minutes but it may also take a few hours before they appear. People with allergic asthma may suffer severe flare-ups when they come in contact with cats. Common treatments for cat allergic reactions include antihistamines like Cetirizine and Diphenhydramine, decongestants and nasal steroid sprays.
Does fur color matter when it comes to hypoallergenic cats?
Yes, fur color matters when it comes to hypoallergenic cats and dark-colored cats may produce more allergens compared to light-colored cats like the Birman. These cats are white in color with pointed coloration which makes them ideal for cat owners that are prone to allergies although they are not classified as hypoallergenic. However, there have still been no clear scientific explanation on the accuracy of the theory that fur color has a major impact on allergies.
Some cat breeds are considered hypoallergenic although no cat breed is considered 100% hypoallergenic. These so-called hypoallergenic cat breeds include the Cornish Rex, Sphynx, Russian Blue, Balinese, Siberian, Bengal, Siamese, Devon Rex, Ocicat and Colorpoint Shorthair.
Does gender play a role in a cat’s ability to produce allergens?
Yes, gender plays a role in a cat’s ability to produce more allergens and female cats are known to produce fewer allergens compared to male cats. Neutered males produce fewer allergens compared to intact males and they produce slightly more compared to females. So, if you are prone to allergies, a female cat may be ideal for you but personality-wise, female felines tend to be more independent and aloof.
How to cope with cat allergies if you own a Birman cat?
If you opt to own a Birman cat despite being allergic to cats, these are some of the measures that you can do to effectively cope and manage your allergy:
- do not allow your cat inside your bedroom
- use a HEPA air purifier at home to reduce the dander in the air
- bathe your cat weekly to reduce the buildup of saliva, oil and dander
- clean and vacuum carpets, furniture and pet beddings regularly
- give your cat some fish oil supplement to improve skin health
- keep your distance and limit interaction with your cat
- restrict your cat to certain areas of your home and do not allow her to roam free
- beware of visitors who own cats as they can bring dander with them on their clothes or luggage
- avoid touching, hugging or kissing your cat
Birman cat personality and temperament
Birman cats are calm and affectionate to their owners and they crave affection and attention. They are smart, easily trained and naturally curious which means they do not shy away from strangers. This cat breed is ideal for families with kids and other pets. These so-called sacred cats of Burma, where they originated from, are docile, sociable, friendly and not too vocal compared to other breeds like the Siamese.
If you are prone to allergic reactions but adore Birman cats, you can still definitely own one as long as you are mindful of the restrictions. Birman cats are not hypoallergenic although they are known to produce fewer allergens compared to most breeds. No cat breed is 100% hypoallergenic as all cats produce the glycoprotein Fel d1 allergen.
Image: istockphoto.com / cyano66