Long-haired cats are well-loved pets because of their silky, flowing coats that come in various colors. Most long-haired cat breeds are also affectionate and sociable like the Maine Coon and Ragdoll. However, these cats are not for everyone, especially people with busy lifestyles since they need to be groomed daily and tend to shed frequently.
Are long haired cats hypoallergenic?
No, long-haired cats are not hypoallergenic just as no cat truly is. All felines produce Fel d 1 protein, the allergen that is responsible for cat allergies. However, long-haired cats may give off less allergens into the air, since their long fur holds the protein tighter against the skin.
Also, among the long-haired cat breeds, the Siberian and Balinese breeds are consistently on the list of the so-called “least allergenic cats” because they produce fewer allergens compared to other breeds.
Long-haired cat breeds
These breeds are considered long-haired:
- American Bobtail
- American Curl
- British Longhair
- Japanese Bobtail
- Maine Coon
- Norwegian Forest
- Scottish Fold
- Selkirk Rex
- Turkish Angora
- Turkish Van
What is a cat allergy?
A cat allergy happens when people with sensitive immune systems have allergic reactions triggered by substances that cats produce. This may include their saliva, urine and skin flakes or dander. The culprit behind all of this is the Fel d 1 protein, the allergen present in these substances. Cat allergies can cause mild to moderate symptoms or a life-threatening syndrome called anaphylaxis.
The Fel d 1 allergen is lightweight and sticky, remains suspended in the air for long periods and clings to carpets, clothing, draperies and furniture. The cat allergens are stickier than other allergen types, and when you have a cat at home, allergens build up quickly on the furnishings and fabrics. They also easily get stirred up and become airborne and soon then there is a stable amount of allergens around the home, replenished by the reservoir in the environment and by the cat’s mere presence.
Common cat allergy symptoms
- runny or stuffy nose
- facial pain due to nasal congestion
- coughing and wheezing
- chest tightness
- shortness of breath
- watery and itchy eyes
- skin rash or hives
Myths surrounding cat allergies
These are the common myths surrounding cat allergies:
1. People are allergic to a cat’s hair or fur.
Most people believe that it is a cat’s hair or fur that causes allergic reactions. This is entirely untrue. While cats that shed hair can cause allergies to flare up, it is not the hair or fur itself that causes cat allergy. It is dander or dead skin cells that cling to the hair or fur of cats that cause people to have allergic reactions.
Long-haired cats may tend to give off fewer allergens as it stays in the fur compared to short-haired breeds. Also, female cats and neutered male cats tend to produce fewer allergens.
2. Cat allergies may get better the more you are exposed to cat allergens.
Some cat allergy sufferers believe that the longer they expose themselves to allergens, the less likely it will become severe. However, this is not true and allergies stay the same or could even worsen with continued exposure.
Some people may have severe allergic reactions to some cats but will not feel anything with others. Doctors are unable to explain why this happens, but it may have something to do with the number of allergens released in the air.
3. You cannot have a cat if you are allergic.
Some allergy sufferers adore cats but choose not to have one since they believe that it is completely impossible. However, this does not always have to be the case. If you only experience mild to moderate symptoms, you can still own and care for a cat. Consult your doctor on the necessary steps to take so you can enjoy the company of your kitty.
Here are some ways to manage your cat allergy:
- Avoid petting, hugging or kissing your cat.
- Wash your hands with soap and water after handling or touching your cat.
- Bathe your cat at least once every four weeks to minimize the buildup of allergens.
- Opt for wood or hard tile flooring instead of using carpets.
- Ask a non-allergic family member to brush and groom your cat.
- Clean and vacuum your home regularly. Use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum cleaner.
- Use a HEPA air purifier to reduce allergen levels in your home.
- Restrict your cat’s access to bedroom and other rooms at home.
4. There are allergen-free or hypoallergenic cats.
Some breeders are pursuing the idea of hypoallergenic cats, but the truth is that no cat is free of allergens. All cats produce the Fel d 1 protein, which is what is responsible for allergic reactions. There are breeds though that are said to be less allergenic because they produce fewer allergens. These breeds include the Balinese, Javanese, Devon Rex, Cornish Rex, Siberian, Sphynx and Russian Blue.
5. You are safe from cat allergies if you are outside or away from the cat.
Some people believe that they won’t have an allergic reaction if they are outside the home or away from cats. Unfortunately, this is untrue. You can still suffer from an allergic reaction because allergens are sticky and can be transferred from one place to another through clothes and other surfaces. Although there are no cats around, you can still suffer from cat allergies since you may have come in contact with a person who had cat dander on their clothes.
Long-haired cats always steal the show because of their luxurious, long and silky coats. These felines have striking looks but also tend to be high-maintenance, since they need to be brushed and groomed daily. They are not hypoallergenic just as all cats are not hypoallergenic, since all of them produce the Fel d 1 protein, the allergen that causes cat allergies. However, these cats may cause lesser allergies since the fur holds the allergen longer and better against the skin.
Image: istockphoto.com / Nynke van Holten