Many people want to adopt a cat but think they can’t because they’re allergic. However, different cats come with different levels of allergens, and you may be able to adopt a cat that is hypoallergenic for you. In that case, there are some cats that are safe to keep in your home.
An allergy to cats is really an allergy to certain proteins that cats produce. Different people can be allergic to different proteins, all of which are found in cat saliva. When the cat grooms itself, it spreads saliva over its fur. The saliva then mixes with shed skin cells known as dander, which eventually sloughs off and becomes airborne or accumulates on surfaces. That’s what makes people sneeze in a house with cats, even when they’re not near the cat.
Taking antihistamines, installing a HEPA air filter, frequently bathing the cat, and keeping the cat outside are all measures people can take to try to reduce their allergy symptoms when they own a cat. But dander is pervasive, and you’re likely to still have some symptoms no matter what measures you take.
There are some cat breeds, however, that produce less of this protein naturally, and therefore may not trigger an allergic response in humans. Although no one has successfully bred an entirely non-allergenic cat, some people claim that certain breeds produce levels of allergens low enough that their human keepers’ symptoms are bearable or controllable with an antihistamine.
The best cat breeds for people with allergies are Siberian and Balinese. Some research has shown that Siberian and Balinese cats produce lower levels of the allergen that people most commonly react to, a protein called "Fel d 1." However, there have not been any published definitive studies that establish a clear link between these breeds and consistently lower levels of the allergen. But anecdotal evidence and some Siberian breeders claim that allergic people have suffered less with Siberians and Balinese cats.
While Siberian and Balinese cats may produce lower levels of allergens, that might not mean that your symptoms will go away completely. Combining the antihistamine with one of those breeds might just be what it takes to get your symptoms under control — or you may also need to invest in a HEPA filter. There is also the chance that you invest in a Siberian or Balinese, then your new buddy doesn’t actually have lower allergen levels. It’s important that, if possible, you get some time to try out the cat you’re thinking of adopting into your home to see if it causes an allergic reaction before you commit to keeping it.
Hopefully this provides a path to adopting a cat into your life even if you’re allergic to most. Once you finally adopt that furry friend, here are 14 toys your new cat might actually play with.