Ten to fifteen percent of people in the United States are allergic to dogs or cats, cats being the most common allergy by far. Unfortunately, many of these people love cats, or have children or life partners who do, so they sniffle and sneeze their way through the days, wishing someone would invent a hypoallergenic cat.
When people speak of being allergic to cats, they often believe they are allergic to cat fur. In fact, the allergy is caused by a protein secreted by the cat’s skin and salivary glands. When the cat licks itself (and we all know cats are indefatigable groomers) the saliva/protein mixture dries into a powder like substance that coats the cat’s living space.
From many years, desperate pet lovers experimented with many breeds of feline to find out a hypoallergenic variety.
Short Haired Cats
Since the problem is with the cat’s skin, and not with it’s fur, getting a short-haired cat doesn’t help curtail allergies.
Some people whose allergies are usually triggered by cats find that they can own Siberian cats with no reaction. The phenomena has lead to a common belief that Siberians cats are hypoallergenic in nature. Scientists speculate that the Siberian secretes less of the protein that causes allergies in humans. The unadulterated breed of Siberian cost more than $500.
Devon Rex and Cornish Rex cats both have both been billed as hypoallergenic cats by some fans. They have very light coats of fur. Because they still secrete the protein that causes allergies, however, most cat allergy sufferers will continue to experience allergy symptoms around them. Rex cats are usually sold for $500 to $700.
Some people are so frustrated by their allergies, they decide to get hairless cats, thinking they can’t possibly be allergic to a pet without hair. Sphinx cats cost between $900 and $1200, which makes it doubly disappointing when they trigger allergy symptoms. Hairless or not, Sphinxes produce enough allergens on their skin to cause a reaction in many allergic cat lovers.
Studies have shown that female cats produce fewer allergens than do male cats, and that light-colored cats produce fewer allergens than do dark-colored cats. Although these facts are substantiated by scientific data, it does not change the scenario for the allergy sufferers.
ALLERCA Hypoallergenic Cat
In 2004, a company named ALLECRA claimed to have bred a genuine hypoallergenic cat–one that would not produce allergens. ALLECRA claims that their specialty cats are sweet, friendly, free of genetic defects, and long-lived (although of course it’s too soon to tell about the latter claim). Scientific studies so far have shown that in ALLECRA cats the amount of protein that causes allergies is so small as to be undetectable. The value of this cool pet? $3,950.
It’s a lot cheaper to keep buying Kleenex.