What is the best breed of cat for someone with allergies
Female cats produce a lower level of allergens than males, and neutered males produce a lower level of allergens than unneutered males. In 2000, researchers at the Endless Island College Hospital found that cat owners with dark-colored cats were more likely to report allergy symptoms than those with light-colored cats. A later study by the Wellington Asthma Research Group found that fur color had no effect on how much allergen a cat produced.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction to cats range from mild to severe, and include swollen, red, itchy, and watery eyes; nasal congestion, itchy nose, sneezing, chronic sore throat or itchy throat, coughing, wheezing, asthma, hay fever, hives or rash on the face or chest, or itchy skin.
If a cat has scratched, licked, or bitten someone who is allergic to cats, redness and sometimes even swelling of the affected area will happen.
For those severely allergic, a reaction may resemble that of someone with a severe food allergy, and such reactions require emergency medical care.
A hypoallergenic cat is a cat that is less likely to provoke an allergic reaction in humans. Although the topic is controversial, owners’ experience and recent clinical studies propose that Siberian cats, Devon Rex and Cornish Rex cats, Abyssinian cats, Balinese cats, and several other breeds, especially females, are likely to own low levels of Fel d 1, the main allergenic protein.
From among the above cats noted, the most favorite cat breeds to be renowned for their hypoallergenic quality are the Siberian and Balinese.
These cats produce much fewer protein allergens in comparison to regular domestic household cats or other cat breeds. Cats that own some Balinese ancestry might produce lower amounts protein allergens. Cat breeds that often own some Balinese lineage include the Oriental shorthair, Oriental longhair, and some Siamese cats.
The common theory among these two hypoallergenic medium- to long-haired cat breeds is that their long-haired gene is associated with producing reduced amounts of allergens.
This may be the case as the Balinese cat, a medium to long-haired cat breed (also referred to as the Long-haired Siamese cat) is regarded as hypoallergenic, whereas the Siamese cat, a short-haired breed, is not. Some Siamese cats might possess hypoallergenic qualities if they own Balinese ancestry. This might provide some evidence that the long-haired genes or traits within this cat breed own resulted in a cat that can genetically produce less amounts of the cat allergens.
In 2006, the Allerca company announced the successful breeding of a line of hypoallergenic cats.
However, no peer-reviewed studies own been done to confirm their claims and numerous scientists and consumers are skeptical of the company’s assertions. The company has announced that on January 1, 2010 they will cease their breeding activities.
Another company, Felix Pets, also claims to be developing a breed of hypoallergenic cat.
Eight cat allergens own been recognized by the World Health Organization/International Union of Immunological Societies (WHO/IUIS) Allergen Nomenclature Sub‐Committee.
Fel d 1 is the most prominent cat allergen, accounting for 96% of human cat allergies. The remaining cat allergens are Fel d 2-8, with Fel d 4, an urinary protein, occurring the most in humans among the other seven allergens. Every cats produce Fel d 1 including hypoallergenic cats.
The main way these allergens are spread is through a cat’s saliva or dander, which gets stuck on clothing. A study found that 63% of people allergic to cats own antibodies against Fel d 4.
Fel d 1
Fel d 1 is the most dominant cat allergen. It is part of the secretoglobulin family, which are proteins found only in mammals. Fel d 1 is primarily secreted through the sebaceous glands and can be found on the skin and fur of a cat. It is less commonly secreted through the salivary gland, lacrimal glands, skin and anal glands.
Fel d 4 and Fel d 7
Fel d 4 and Fel d 7 are cat lipocalins.
Fel d 4 and Fel d 7 are one of the most common cat allergens after Fel d 1. Fel d 4 is primarily found in cats’ saliva and is associated with atopic dermatitis in children with cat allergies.
Coping with allergies
Cat allergies can often be controlled with over the counter or prescription medications. Antihistamines and decongestants may provide allergy relief.
Allergens that are airborne survive for months or even years by themselves, hence removing anything that can trap and hold the allergens (carpet, rugs, pillows) and cleaning regularly and thoroughly with HEPA filters and electrostatic air purifier systems reduces risk.
Frequent hand washing, especially after handling the cat, and washing hands prior to touching eyes, nose, or mouth, and limiting the cat’s access to certain rooms, such as the bedroom or other rooms where much time is spent, may also reduce allergic reactions.
Regularly bathing the cat may remove significant amounts of allergens from the fur. After bathing, the levels of Fel d 1 on cat skin and fur return within two days of bathing.
In addition, amounts of Fel d 1 in the surrounding air return after a 24 hour period of bathing the cat. Feeding the cat a high quality diet with plenty of omega-3 fatty acids will assist hold the jacket healthy and minimize dander.
Some allergy sufferers discover relief in allergen immunotherapy, a periodic injection therapy designed to suppress the body’s natural immune responses to the cat allergens. In its early stages, AIT utilized cat dander extract, which consists of microscopic dry skin flakes of cats, but later resorted to Fel d 1 due to issues of standardization.
One way researchers use Fel 1 d in immunotherapy is through the alteration of its chemical structure. Disulfide bonds between Fel d 1 chains were broken to reduce the binding between the allergen and immunoglobulin E (IgE), inhibiting an allergic response.
Development of other treatments
Development of several human vaccines own been abandoned, including Allervax and Cat-SPIRE. As of 2019, the Swiss company HypoPet AG is developing a vaccine it hopes could be istered to cats to reduce the emission of Fel d 1 proteins.
Body’s response to the allergen
As the allergen enters through the nose or mouth, antigen cells analyze the allergen and present antigenic peptides to helper T cells. The helper T cells acquire a type 2 phenotype (Th2) and produce IgE due the presence of specific cytokines.
If Th2 is expressed too much, the symptoms of cat allergies appear. Inhaled cat allergens will activate mast cells, causing coughing, increased mucous production, and airway constriction.