If you love cats but allergies prevent you from having most cats in your home, a sphynx cat seems to be an obvious choice. They don’t have fur, and therefore, they can’t shed like most other cats. On the surface, it seems like they should be hypoallergenic.
The truth is a mixed bag. It would be a stretch to call a sphynx a hypoallergenic cat, but they could be a better choice for households where family members or roommates have cat allergies.
What Causes an Allergy to Cats?
Many people believe that cat allergies relate to cat fur. This usually isn’t the case. Cat hair transports the real allergens all around the house.
Cats produce a specific protein in their bodily fluids and dander (dead skin cells). Fel D 1 is a protein unique to cats. This protein is responsible for creating an allergic reaction in some people. Cat fur can trap this protein and spread it around your house.
When an allergic person comes into contact with this protein, their body produces a histamine response. They may sneeze, get watery or itchy eyes, or experience itchy skin when they come into contact with this protein.
Are There Hypoallergenic Cats?
There is technically no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat. All cats produce the same protein that acts as an allergy trigger. Some breeds of cats are believed to produce less of this protein. Other breeds of cats have coats that reduce the spread of allergens.
Almost all types of cats have the potential to work well in a home with someone who has allergies. Less of the protein or minimal spread of the protein can reduce the potential for contact between the person and the allergen.
To help keep symptoms at a minimum, it may help to prevent the cat from having access to the allergy sufferer’s bedroom.
If the person is only mildly allergic, the cat is properly groomed, and the house is kept clean, there’s a chance the allergic person may not experience symptoms at all.
What Is a Sphynx Cat?
Sphynx cats are a breed of furless cat. Sphynx cats have sparse, fine hair on places like their feet and tail. Sphynx cats came about because of a harmless genetic mutation that causes an inability to produce fur. Cats with this genetic variant are then bred to consistently produce kittens without fur.
Are Sphynx Cats Hypoallergenic?
No cat breeds are completely hypoallergenic. Sphynx cats still produce proteins that can cause an allergic reaction.
The difference between a sphynx cat and most other breeds of cat is their lack of fur. Since sphynx cats aren’t constantly shedding fur, they’re not shedding the protein all over your house, and can reduce the risk of allergen exposure, thus reducing the chances of allergy symptoms.
What Kinds of Cats Are Hypoallergenic?
People with mild cat allergies have managed to successfully live with many breeds of cats without significant discomfort.
Many people find that the following breeds are less likely to provoke allergy symptoms:
- Devon Rex
- Oriental Shorthair
- Russian Blue
What To Do About an Allergy to Cats
In cases of severe allergies, it may not be possible to keep a cat in your home or be in a home where a cat lives.
If your allergy to cats is severe, it’s generally not safe for you to keep one because of the risk to your health. In this case, it’s best to love cats from a distance and ask friends to send you pictures and videos of their adorable pets.
If your allergy to cats is mild, there are some things you can do to keep symptoms minimal and manageable.
Bathe the Cat Regularly
Cats do a good job of grooming themselves, but they’re unable to fully remove the dirt and allergens that build up under their coat. Regularly brushing your cat to control shedding paired with occasionally giving your cat baths will help to wash away allergens on the surface of their skin. This could help prevent them from spreading the allergens around the house.
Even though hairless breeds like Sphynx cats don’t produce a fluffy fur coat, the allergens can still stick to the natural oils their skin produces. Regular bathing could help limit allergens from spreading.
Taking Allergy Medication
If you’re temporarily staying in the same home as a cat, the short-term use of allergy medication can keep the symptoms at bay until you and the cat are safely in separate environments. You can take allergy medicine before going to visit a friend or relative that has a cat.
Additionally, some allergy specialists may clear you to take daily antihistamines at a fairly low dose — don’t start doing this on your own though, make sure to make an appointment with an allergist to get guidance and medical advice specific to you and your health history.
Cleaning the House Well
HEPA air filters, frequent vacuuming, and laundering surfaces that a cat comes into contact with will minimize your exposure to cat allergens. If you have a cat allergy, it’s best to keep cats away from the clothing and bedding that you may wear or use, including blankets, hats, and even throw pillows on the couch.
Your cat may want to follow you everywhere, but it’s important to establish cat-free zones in your home to prevent allergens from tracking into places you’d rather they weren’t (like your bedroom).
Waiting and Overcoming the Allergy
In some cases, it’s possible to overcome an allergy to cats. Direct exposure to these allergens over a prolonged period of time might condition your body to stop responding to them. This is most likely to occur when someone is only mildly allergic to cats. There’s no way to expedite the process or encourage it to happen — it’s a matter of biology and luck.
Reducing Allergens Your Cat Produces
At some point in the future, it may be possible to vaccinate your cat against the production of their own allergens.
A Swiss pharmaceutical company is in the early stages of producing a vaccine that helps to restrict the amount of common allergens cats can produce. The findings are hopeful, but the vaccine is still in the developmental phase.
Do an Allergy Test Before You Adopt a Cat
It’s not a wise idea to adopt a Sphynx cat, or any cat, under the assumption that it won’t trigger allergy symptoms in you or someone in your household with preexisting allergies.
If your household is affected by a cat allergy, encourage the allergic person to interact with the cat first. If possible, foster a cat of the same breed to see if everyone can coexist peacefully.
You should never plan to adopt a cat of a particular breed until you’ve determined the severity of the allergy — you don’t want to create a situation where you’ll need to rehome or surrender the animal due to an allergy. It may upset your family and cause significant distress for the animal who won’t understand why they’re being passed around or rejected.
Caring for Your New Cat
Although no cat is really hypoallergenic, you might be able to own one a cat even with a cat allergy with some help from the tips above.
If you’ve found a Sphynx cat that works for the allergy sufferers in your family, you’ll soon love and cherish them like any other member of your family.
Follow our blog for more tips, advice, and guidance for the fur baby either in your family or on the way!