People often assume that hairless cats are hypoallergenic and suitable for people allergic to cats. However, a 100 % hypoallergenic cat is just a myth and all cats can cause allergies, although some breeds may be more suitable for sensitive persons than others.
Can you be allergic to hairless cats?
Yes, you can be allergic to hairless cats. A hairless cat may carry less dander but that does not mean that they cannot cause allergic reactions.
Hairless cats produce the protein, Fel d 1 which is the culprit for the allergens that are harmful for sensitive people. This allergen is spread through a cat’s saliva or dander, not through their fur. Long-haired cats can carry more allergens because their fur carries more dander especially when not cleaned regularly.
How do cat allergies work?
People with allergies have over-sensitive immune systems. Their bodies mistake harmless things like the cat dander for dangerous invaders and attack them as they would to bacteria or viruses. The symptoms of the allergy are the side effects of the body’s assault on the allergen.
How do you know if you are allergic to cats?
The symptoms of cat allergy range from mild to severe. It depends on a person’s sensitivity and the level of exposure to allergens. These may also influence how quickly the symptoms develop after exposure. Highly sensitive people can develop symptoms within minutes of touching a cat or entering a house with a cat.
The symptoms may include the following:
- Sneezing or runny nose
- Coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing
- Facial pain from nasal congestion
- Watery, red or itchy eyes
- Skin rash or hives
Is there an allergy-free cat?
Although there are cats that are considered hypoallergenic such as hairless ones, there is no such a thing as a 100 % hypoallergenic cat. Fur is not a huge factor in cat allergy because the allergens that cats produce are related to their skin and saliva.
Can you develop immunity to cat allergies?
Over time, it is possible to build immunity towards cats. Some allergic cat owners are lucky enough to develop an immunity and see a decrease of symptoms over the years. Yet, allergic reactions may also worsen for others.
Can you develop cat allergies suddenly?
It is possible for someone who has never suffered cat allergy before to develop one. If you notice symptoms when you are around a cat, you can visit a doctor to test for an allergy.
What to do with cat allergies?
Avoiding cats is the best way to manage the allergy. If you have a cat and are allergic to cats, consider removing the cat from your home. If you have a cat and allergic to it, but do not want to find it a new home, you can try the following tips to reduce your exposure to allergens:
- Keep the cat out of the bedroom and restrict it to only a few rooms.
2. Do not pet, cuddle or kiss the cat. If you want so, do not forget to wash your hands with soap afterwards.
3. Use an efficient air purifier continuously in rooms to lower allergen levels.
4. Clean rigorously and regularly to reduce allergens in the house. Cat dander can get everywhere so it is necessary to clean surfaces and furniture.
5. Bathing your cat is recommended but it can be challenging for every cat owner. This is a great way to clean up the cat dander that brings the allergy. You can alternatively use wipes to take dander off from your hairless cat.
6. To relieve the symptoms of cat allergies, you can use over the counter or prescription medications.
Although hairless cats are assumed to be hypoallergenic compared to long-haired ones, they can still cause allergies for sensitive people. Cats produce the allergen causing symptoms through their saliva, skin and dander, and not through their fur.
Image: istockphoto.com / Thomas Leirikh