British Shorthair cats are playful, affectionate, friendly, and loyal to their humans. They have short to medium coats that come in various colors and patterns. Some people presume that they cause fewer allergic reactions because of their dense, plush coats, but like most cats, they can trigger severe allergy symptoms.
Are British Shorthair cats hypoallergenic?
No, British Shorthair cats are not hypoallergenic. No cat is completely hypoallergenic. While the allergy symptoms triggered may differ from one breed to another, all cat breeds are non-hypoallergenic in some way. British Shorthair cats have a short and dense coat which is why some people think they are hypoallergenic. However, this is untrue since all felines produce Fel d 1 protein, the allergen that is responsible for allergic reactions.
A certain presumption that led people to believe that British Shorthair cats are hypoallergenic could be due to a test run by a certain company. This breed was the first sample breed they tested to try and introduce a genetically hypoallergenic cat breed. It is not certain if the project was a success or not, but it may have contributed to the belief that the British Shorthair cat is hypoallergenic.
How can British Shorthair cats cause allergic reactions?
British Shorthair cats, like all cats, have an instinct to self-groom and clean their bodies. They spend at least five hours a day just grooming themselves. When they lick and clean their fur, saliva and dander that contain the allergens are transferred into the fur and become airborne, triggering an allergic reaction among those with cat allergies.
The Fel d 1 protein (the allergen) is a strong and stable protein that does not break easily. When allergic people pet, hold, or brush a British Shorthair cat, it can trigger an allergy attack.
The common symptoms of a cat allergy include sneezing, wheezing, runny or stuffy nose, facial pain due to nasal congestion, coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, red and itchy eyes, skin rash, or hives. Some people can also develop a severe allergy reaction called anaphylaxis. Its symptoms include difficulty in breathing and very low blood pressure that could send the body into shock.
How to Protect Yourself and Manage Your Allergy Symptoms
1. Spend some time with a British Shorthair cat before bringing one home.
If you are convinced that a British Shorthair cat is a good match for you, try to test first how your body reacts to the cat. If you have friends who have a British Shorthair cat, spend some time with it. Observe your symptoms as you spend an hour or two with the cat.
2. Consult your allergist on the proper anti-allergy medication.
A good way to prepare for owning a cat would be to consult your allergist on which anti-allergy medication is right for you. Your allergist knows what medication to prescribe so you can tolerate a cat’s presence without developing a severe allergy attack.
3. Protect yourself while grooming and bathing your cat.
Use a face mask and gloves every time you groom and bathe your British Shorthair cat. You could also ask a non-allergic family member for help or hire someone to do those tasks for you. British Shorthairs need to be brushed at least twice a week. During seasonal changes, they should be brushed daily since the coat may be thickening or thinning.
4. Wash your hands after handling or touching your cat.
Clean and wash your hands properly with soap and water after touching or petting your cat. You should also change your clothes since your cat’s fur could get tangled in the fabric and trigger an allergic reaction.
5. Invest in a good air purifier.
An air purifier is a must-have if you are an allergy sufferer who has a British Shorthair cat. Opt for air cleaners with the high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) feature. A good air purifier in specific rooms keeps the air purified from allergens and could protect you from having allergic reactions.
6. Restrict your cat from staying inside your bedroom.
Bedrooms have fabrics and linens that trap fur and allergens. This is why it is considered a bad idea to let your cat stay in your bedroom. Keeping your bedroom a cat-free area ensures that you will have a restful and sneeze-free sleep.
7. Use a vacuum cleaner and clean your home regularly.
Having a British Shorthair cat around means you have to be extra conscious of your home’s cleanliness. Clean and vacuum surfaces and common areas thoroughly. This will help minimize the presence of fur and dander and prevent the spread of allergens in your home.
British Shorthair Cat Facts
1.This cat breed is heavily-muscled with a rounded, thick appearance. The cat has strong legs, a broad chest, strong jaws, a muscular neck, and a well-developed muzzle.
2. The coat of this breed is thick and dense, and becomes thicker and longer during wintertime. The texture is relatively hard as a way to protect the cat.
Coat colors: Blue, white, cream, black, silver, cameo, brown, torbie, blue-cream, tortoiseshell, shaded, and smoke.
3. British Shorthair cats have multifaceted personalities. They are easygoing and calm, and have a pleasant disposition. They are very loyal and loving but do not need constant attention.
4. The father of the breed is Harrison Wier. He is credited as the first professional breeder of this breed. He is also credited as the “Father of the Cat Fancy.”
British Shorthair cats are popular for their calm, affectionate, and easygoing nature. They have short, dense coats but are not hypoallergenic. No cat is truly hypoallergenic because all cats produce the Fel d 1 protein, the allergen responsible for cat allergy attacks. You can still own and care for a British Shorthair cat if you follow safety measures like vacuuming your home regularly and consulting your allergist on the right anti-allergy medication for you.
Image: istockphoto.com / philmillster