Smart. Sweet. Sociable. It is no wonder that many people want to adopt a Scottish Fold. But what if you or a loved one is allergic to cats? Perhaps somebody told you or you might have stumbled upon something on the Internet that says that Scottish Folds are hypoallergenic.
Are Scottish Fold cats hypoallergenic
Scottish Fold cats are not hypoallergenic.
The idea that certain cat breeds are hypoallergenic is a myth. The reality is that there is no hypoallergenic cat breed. All cats can trigger an allergic reaction although in varying degrees, including the Scottish Fold.
But the truth is there is no truly hypoallergenic cat, whether short or long-haired, pure breed or mixed, male or female.
To better understand why there are no hypoallergenic cats, it is vital to understand why some people are allergic to cats.
Why are some people allergic to cats?
Some people think that cat fur is the culprit behind allergies. As such, they think that a cat with short to medium fur like a Scottish Fold is hypoallergenic.
But what exactly is an allergy?
An allergic reaction occurs when a person’s immune system overreacts to the presence of an allergen or a foreign substance. Allergens are relatively harmless substances. The problem with these substances arises because of the immune system’s reaction to them.
Usually, allergens are proteins. Among the most common allergens are eggs, milk, peanuts, fish, latex, insect venom, spores, dust mites, and even cockroaches.
People who are allergic to animals, including cats, react adversely to the proteins found in animal urine, feces, saliva, and dander. Even worse, these allergens are so small in size that they remain suspended in the air for a substantial time.
If you are allergic to cats, your body is reacting adversely to any of the seven proteins found in the saliva and skin of felines. These proteins start accumulating on a cat’s skin and fur. Eventually, the proteins are released into the air when a cat grooms himself and sheds dander.
Contrary to what some people may believe, the allergens are not distributed evenly on a cat’s body. Instead, most of these allergens are found on the faces and necks of cats. This is because the oil glands responsible for producing allergens are located in those areas. However, the allergens can be spread across the different body parts when a cat licks himself while grooming. The allergens can also be transferred to a person when a cat rubs himself against his human.
The fact that all cats produce allergens, including Scottish Folds cannot be overstated. However, some cats produce more allergens than others. For example, intact males produce more allergens compared to toms that have been neutered. There are also anecdotes of people who are allergic to cats who experience fewer flare-ups with cats with white coats.
There are also some breeds like the Siberian, Devon Rex, and Cornish Rex that either have low levels of allergens in their saliva or shed less and limit the spread of the allergens into the environment.
Can you still get a Scottish Fold if you are allergic to cats?
Even if you are allergic to cats, it is still possible to adopt one. It is possible to reduce the symptoms associated with cat allergy by reducing your exposure to allergens and getting the necessary treatment to manage the associated symptoms.
But before you adopt a cat, it is worthwhile to confirm with your doctor if you are indeed allergic to cats. The common symptoms of a cat allergy are similar to other types of allergies and it is possible that you are not allergic to felines.
There are two main strategies that you can employ if you are allergic to cats but you want to add one to your household.
Although you cannot reduce the number of allergens produced by your pet, you can reduce the allergens swirling in the air.
1. Make your bedroom a cat-free zone.
If possible, do not allow your cat to enter your bedroom. This will drastically reduce your exposure to allergens. Studies indicate that areas where cats are present have the highest concentration of allergens.
2. Replace your carpets.
Allergens can stick to carpets thus increasing the likelihood of your exposure to these. Instead of carpets, replace these with smooth flooring materials like wood or linoleum.
3. Clean your home regularly.
If you are allergic to cats but you want to get one, you cannot be a slouch when it comes to cleaning your home. Ideally, you should clean your home at least once a week.
Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to eliminate allergens in your home. Avoid using brooms and feather dusters which can spread the allergens into the air.
If possible, ask someone who is not allergic to cats to clean your home. If this is not possible, wear a dust mask to protect yourself from the allergens.
4. Use hot water in washing fabrics
Allergens can stick to fabrics like beddings and clothes. And the best way to remove these is to use hot water.
5. Invest in a HEPA filter
A HEPA filter for your home’s heating and cooling systems can drastically reduce the number of allergens in your home. If you do not have one installed in your heating system, have one installed before you bring home your new pet.
6. Find a suitable treatment for your allergy
Aside from limiting the circulation of allergens in your home, you might also want to consider managing your allergy symptoms. There are a few options to choose from, including over-the-counter medications and immunotherapy.
Controlling cat allergies
Aside from enforcing housekeeping measures, there are a few other things that you can do to reduce cat allergens from circulating in your home.
1. Get your cat sterilized
This is particularly important if you are planning to adopt a tomcat. Neutered cats produce fewer allergens compared to intact males.
2. Make bathing a habit
Although your cat may not warm up to the idea of bathing regularly, taking regular baths can drastically reduce allergens by as much as 84 percent. Make sure that you use a pet shampoo specially formulated for pets.
3. Wash your hands regularly
Wash your hands after you touch your cat. Allergens can stick to your hands and you are likely to experience a flare-up if you touch your face with unwashed hands.
4. Do not adopt more than one cat
Having more than one cat increases the number of allergens in your home exponentially. Although it may be tempting to keep more than one cat, stick with just one to minimize your bouts with your cat allergy.
What to do if you are allergic to a Scottish Fold
Adopting any pet is a major decision. More so if you are allergic to cats. After all, the last thing that you want to do is to rehome a cat you have been enamored with.
Weigh the pros and cons of owning a Scottish Fold with your medical conditions. It is possible to minimize the impact of allergens if you enforce the aforementioned strategies.
You might also want to consider other cat breeds that produce fewer allergens. Or maybe you might want to look into getting another pet altogether.
Image: istockphoto.com / Vlad Yushinov