About 10% of the population suffers from some sort of allergy, and cats are at the top of the list. But – contrary to popular belief – it’s not a cat’s fur that most people are allergic to. People with cat allergies are actually allergic to proteins in the cat’s saliva, urine, and dander. Someone with a cat allergy that comes in contact with a kitty may start coughing and sneezing, get itchy, watery eyes, or a runny nose.
There is a common misconception that there are certain hypoallergenic breeds. Though some breeds of cat may produce less dander (Javanese), some produce less of the protein allergen in their saliva (Russian Blue and Balinese), and some are almost completely hairless (Sphynx), no cat is truly hypoallergenic.
About.com interviewed Dr. Richard Meadows with the University of Missouri to talk about cat breeds for allergy sufferers. Here’s some of what he had to say:
Well unfortunately there are no good breeds for people with allergies. There’s one company that makes genetically engineered cats that are supposed to be allergen free. These are very expensive cats. They have genetically knocked out one gene in those cats for the one major allergen and there’s at least four of them, so they don’t knock them all out.
And here’s what Dr. Meadows recommends for those who have a cat and believe they might be allergic:
Well certainly they need to check with their allergist and follow their directions. As I said, grooming them regularly, knocking out the undercoat with one of those special combs and bathing them once in awhile if nothing else just rinsing them off with distilled water can do away with a fair amount of the allergen.
Are you allergic to cats, but share your home with them anyway? What do you do to keep your allergies at bay?