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Are Bengal Cats Hypoallergenic?

The Bengal Cat is an athletic and wild-looking but sweet-natured cat. They are energetic, love to have fun, and are a healthy and hardy cat that requires a great deal of physical exercise and mental stimulation. They make good pets, as they get along with all family members and form close emotional bonds.

Besides their friendly demeanor and outgoing personality, the breed is popular because they produce less of the Fel d1 protein that causes allergic reactions in some people. Although a cat can never truly be hypoallergenic, the Bengal is as close as you can get.

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Cat Allergies

A cat allergy means that a person is sensitive or allergic to the Fel d1 protein created by all cats, regardless of breed. It is present in their saliva, urine, fur, and dander.

All cats produce the Fel d1 protein, which is responsible for 96% of allergic reactions in those with cat allergies. Other allergens produced by cats are Fel d4 and Fel d7, but most people have natural antibodies to fight these allergens.

Are Any Cats Really Hypoallergenic?

All cats produce the Fel d1 protein, but some produce less than others. Research indicates that spayed females produce less of the protein, followed by neutered males, while intact males produce the most of this allergen. Although somewhat anecdotal, black cats are believed to produce more than lighter colored cats, and there is some preliminary research backing this theory up.

brown spotted bengal cat
Image credit: Cressida Studio, Shutterstock

Are Male or Female Cats More Allergenic?

Studies suggest that female cats are more hypoallergenic than males, although gender is less important than whether the cat has been spayed or neutered. The most hypoallergenic are spayed females, followed by neutered males, unaltered females, and, finally, unaltered males.

Are Black Cats Worse for Allergies?

It has long been rumored that dark cats are worse for allergy sufferers than light cats. Studies in this area are limited, but the restricted data available suggests it to be true. The cause is unknown, but it is possible that the melanin, which is responsible for the darker hair pigmentation, is also responsible for the higher production of Fel d1. Again, while testing has not been extensive, there is evidence to suggest that black cats produce more dander, which contains the allergenic protein.

Do Long Haired Cats Cause More Allergies?

There is debate over whether long-haired cats cause more allergic reactions. The Fel d1 protein is indeed found in fur, and long-haired cats have longer fur, but they don’t necessarily have more of it and they don’t necessarily shed it more often. A list of the most hypoallergenic cats will contain both short-hair and long-hair breeds.

What Cat Is Best for Someone With Allergies?

Besides the Bengal cat, four other breeds are better suited to those with cat allergies:

  • Cornish Rex: The name Rex refers to a genetic mutation that causes curly hair. This isn’t always evident if the cat has short hair. The Cornish Rex differs from many other breeds because they have fewer layers of undercoat, so they have a very soft coat.
  • Devon Rex: The Devon Rex has the same genetic mutations as the Cornish Rex. They have all three layers of undercoat, so they are not as soft as the Cornish Rex. Their coat has more of a curly appearance than the Cornish Rex, but both breeds are described as being hypoallergenic.
  • Russian Blue: The Russian Blue is renowned for being a loving cat that forms a strong bond with their owner. They are intelligent cats, and despite having a thick and luscious coat, they do not shed heavily. Minimal shedding means that you will have less fur and dander to contend with and will be exposed to less of the Fel d1 protein.
  • Siberian: The Siberian has a long and thick coat, so it may surprise many potential owners that they are considered one of the better breeds for allergy sufferers. The breed likely produces less Fel d1 to protect their fur from the extreme cold weather that they would face in the wild. Kind, playful, and gentle, this breed makes a great pet.
bengal cat
Image Credit: NASTIA KHITIAEVA, Shutterstock

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Can You Live With a Cat If You Are Allergic?

It may be possible to live with cats if you are allergic. That said, if you have serious allergies that can lead to life-threatening reactions, then you should avoid living with or near a cat.

Otherwise, taking the appropriate precautions can reduce the effects and impact. Choose a hypoallergenic breed like the Siberian, brush and groom your cat regularly to reduce the allergens retained in their coat, and ensure that you dust, sweep, and vacuum regularly to eliminate allergens in the home.

You should also stop your cat from getting in your bedroom and sleeping on your bed. You spend approximately a third of your life in bed, and if you are exposed to cat fur, dander, and other sources of Fel d1 in this area, it can have a hugely negative impact on your daily life.

Do Air Purifiers Help With Cat Allergies?

The Fel d1 protein’s particles are a fraction of the size of dust particles. They are easily airborne and can spread and settle on several different surfaces around your home. While regular dusting and vacuuming will help rid your home of some of these particles, agitating them can exacerbate the problem. An air purifier can remove most of these particles from a room. Look for a purifier with a HEPA filter to help ensure that it catches as many as possible.

How Long Do Cat Allergy Symptoms Last?

Symptoms vary dramatically. Mild symptoms include a runny nose and congestion, sneezing, and a mild rash or skin irritation. Additional symptoms might include shortness of breath, wheeziness, and tightness in the chest. Most symptoms occur almost immediately after exposure, but some take several days of cumulative exposure to the allergen.

In most instances, the symptoms will remain as long as the allergen does. If you live with a cat, you might have to constantly live with some of the symptoms, unless you take steps to minimize exposure. Symptoms may subside after a few hours if you are no longer exposed to the protein.

Bengal Cat
Image Credit By: lshman000, pixabay

Can You Stop Being Allergic to Cats?

Your cat allergy may never go away completely. There is no known cure or vaccine against the condition, and although some feline foods are being developed that can help minimize the production of Fel d1, if you currently have an allergy to cats, you will likely always have an allergy.

That said, some allergies can disappear over time. The exact reason for this is unknown, but experts speculate that the immune system gets used to allergens and no longer perceives them as a threat. This belief has led many people to try and desensitize themselves to an allergen. The principle is that if you expose yourself to a small amount of the Fel d1 protein and gradually increase this over time, your body will become accustomed to it and you will lose the allergy. However, this is not known to work as a treatment, and because you are increasing exposure to the allergens and incurring a cumulative effect of the protein, it may actually make your allergic reactions stronger and more severe.

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Are Bengal Cats Hypoallergenic?

Bengal cats are often described as being hypoallergenic, though there is no such thing because all cats produce the Fel d1 protein that is the cause of allergic reactions in their fur, saliva, urine, and dander. However, the Bengal cat, along with a few other breeds, is known to produce less of this protein. Spayed females also produce less Fel d1 than unaltered females and males. It is possible to live with a cat even if you are allergic, but you will need to take certain actions to minimize your level of exposure.

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Featured Image: Irina_kukuts, Pixabay