If you are getting a cat, you are right to wonder whether you are allergic to the animal or not. After all, you will be in a horrible situation if you don’t find out you are allergic until you have already brought your feline companion home. PetKeen and other sources tout Siamese cats as hypoallergenic cats. Unfortunately, hypoallergenic doesn’t have the same meaning as nonallergenic. You can have an allergic reaction to every cat breed in existence. Siamese cats are no exception to this rule.
What Is a Hypoallergenic Cat?
The prefix hypo- means either “under” or “beneath.” As a result, hypoallergenic means something is less allergenic. The issue is that people often use hypoallergenic as a substitute for nonallergenic, meaning something that isn’t allergenic. Under these circumstances, hypoallergenic cats can mean one of two things. First, the term can indicate cats that are less allergenic than other cats. Second, the term can indicate cats that aren’t allergenic, thus making them quite different from other cats.
What Causes Allergic Reactions to Cats?
Allergies happen when people have oversensitive immune systems. WebMD says people with cat allergies aren’t reacting to cat hair. Instead, they are reacting to proteins found in the cats’ saliva, urine, and dander, which can come into contact with the rest of the cats’ bodies. After all, cats are famous for grooming themselves, so it isn’t hard to see how their saliva can get on their fur.
Besides this, there is another way people can have an allergic reaction to cats. Just as cat saliva can cling to cat fur, other allergens can also cling to cat fur. The more time a cat spends in the presence of mold, pollen, and other allergens, the greater the chance of them carrying those allergens on their coats. If you are allergic to one or more of those allergens, you could have an allergic reaction when you come into contact with that cat. A situation that could be very misleading, to say the least.
Do Hypoallergenic Cats Even Exist?
Sources often claim there are hypoallergenic cats in the sense they are less allergenic than their counterparts. Every cat breed produces the relevant proteins. However, different cats can produce different amounts of the relevant proteins. As a result, you can come upon claims from ASPCA Pet Insurance and other sources about Russian Blues producing less of the Fel d 1 protein. That doesn’t make these cats nonallergenic. Russian Blues still produce some Fel d 1 plus the other relevant proteins. Thanks to that, you can still have an allergic reaction to these cats even if your chances of doing so are lower than your chances of doing so when exposed to other cats.
Similarly, you can come upon similar claims about cats that shed less than other cats. Here, the idea is that these cats create fewer opportunities for humans to come into indirect contact with the relevant proteins. After all, anyone who owns a cat knows how cat fur can get everywhere. Furthermore, cat dander is so lightweight that it can float in the air for hours at a time. When people make claims about Siamese cats being hypoallergenic cats, they mean Siamese cats shed less cat fur than their furrier counterparts. You should have no problem finding similar claims about other short-haired cat breeds, which extend to their hairless counterparts. Once again, you can still have an allergic reaction to Siamese cats. Having fewer allergens in the home is fundamentally not the same situation as having no allergens in the home.
As such, there is no such thing as a cat with zero potential for causing allergic reactions. Even if they didn’t produce the relevant proteins, they would still be capable of picking up other allergens in their coats. Theoretically, some cat breeds could be less allergenic than others. Alas, Smithsonian says there isn’t much evidence for these claims, which are still under investigation.
How Can You Tell If You Are Having an Allergic Reaction?
Of course, it is a good idea to make sure that you suffer from allergies before you start worrying about allergies. The symptoms of allergies are extremely common, meaning it is easy to mistake them for something else and vice versa. Simply put, coughing, wheezing, sneezing, red eyes, runny nose, and skin outbreaks can happen because of a wide range of medical problems. Still, if you exhibit one or more of them after coming into contact with allergens, it is reasonable for you to suspect that you have allergies.
You should get help for your allergies. That is particularly true if you are having a particularly bad reaction. After that, you can also get your doctor to do some testing to determine exactly what you are allergic to. That isn’t a particularly complicated process. The Mayo Clinic says several skin tests are available for this purpose. One consists of pricking. Another consists of injections. The third consists of patches applied to the skin. None of these tests are fun. Still, they are the best way for you to know exactly what you are allergic to, which is necessary if you want to protect yourself from the responsible allergens.
Can You Still Get a Cat If You Are Allergic to Cats?
If you are determined to become a cat owner, you can still get one even if you have cat allergies. The Spruce Pets says there are several things you can do to mitigate the problem. Medication is the obvious solution, though you should always check in with your doctor before taking anything new. Simultaneously, you should do your best to reduce other allergens, which can worsen your symptoms if you are allergic to cats. One example would be eliminating air fresheners, scented candles, and similar products. Other examples include replacing carpeting with tiles, upholstered furniture with leather furniture, and window blinds with window coverings. On top of this, you might be able to build up your tolerance by spending time with cats before you get one of your own.