Cats are at the forefront of the world right now. However, cat allergies are one of the world’s most common allergies, and even many people who are allergic to cats are trying to find a cat that they can keep. Hypoallergenic animals are a fast-growing market. People are looking for low-shedding, hypoallergenic animals to help reduce their allergic reactions and just reduce the amount of cleaning they must do every day. How do Bengals fare in that market? Here’s the scoop on Bengal cats.
Do Bengal Cats Shed?
Bengal cats are considered low-shedding cats. They have a short, fine coat that resembles and feels like a spotted rabbit. Because of this fast, delicate texture, Bengals don’t shed much.
However, “not much” is not the same as “never.” Bengals shed a small amount of fur each day, and if you don’t clean up after your cat, you’ll eventually notice the fur buildup.
Dust and dirt can also get trapped in a Bengal’s coat while playing, and they can distribute the dust and dirt around your home if you don’t stay on top of that.
Are Bengal Cats Hypoallergenic?
Bengal cats are considered hypoallergenic, but it’s hard to explain that because there’s no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic cat. While Bengals are significantly less likely than other cat breeds to produce an allergic reaction, they still make the Fel d 1 protein that people are allergic to; they just have a smaller amount.
What Causes Cat Allergies?
A hypersensitivity causes cat allergies to the Fel d 1 protein. This protein is found in cat saliva and is spread over the skin and coat surface when a cat licks itself during grooming. The cat then sheds the Fel d 1 protein with dead skin cells and fur when they fall from its body.
Fel d 1 sensitivity can have many symptoms, including a stuffy nose, skin rash, and anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock in severe cases. These allergies can be dangerous for people who have them, and if someone you know has a cat allergy, it’s best to prepare them and your cat in advance to prevent any issues.
Fel d 1 Allergies are among the most common in the world, affecting 10–20% of the population. They’re about twice as common as dog allergies and naturally, the rate at which severe allergies occur is higher as well.
How to Alleviate Cat Allergen Hypersensitivity
The easiest way to reduce the allergic reaction of your friends and family is to clean. When you clean your floors, walls, and furniture, you remove the Fel d 1 protein that may have built up on the surfaces and reduce the amount of Fel d 1 your allergic compatriot comes into contact with.
Don’t just clean your home; you can also wash your cat with a special shampoo to reduce the amount of dander they shed. These shampoos lessen the amount of Fel d 1 proteins in the cat’s skin, thus reducing the amount that they shed since there’s less Fel d 1 in the outer layers of the skin.
You can also consider getting a “hypoallergenic” cat. These cats shed less Fel d 1 on average and produce milder or no reaction, even in people with cat allergies. However, people with high severity allergies will likely still be affected by your cat’s Fel d 1 shedding.
If you’re with a cat allergy and trying to figure out how to get a cat without making your own life miserable, consider getting allergy shots. These shots contain deactivated Fel d 1 proteins. You may experience slight symptoms right after the shot, but many people experience a remission of allergy symptoms after being treated with allergy shots.
These are different from allergy medication as they don’t aim to mask the symptoms the body experiences; instead, they focus on getting the body acquainted with the proteins it’s allergic to and reducing the allergic reaction that is suffered.
The Myth of Hypoallergenic Cats
There’s no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat. What we refer to as “hypoallergenic cats” are actually cats who have a low allergen shedding rate. People with particularly sensitive allergies will still react to the cat.
Hairless cats, while low-allergen shedding, also are not truly hypoallergenic. They still produce and shed pet dander in their skin and saliva that allergic folks may react to.
Cat allergen shedding varies widely by breed and the individual cat. While some species, like Bengals, are less prone to producing Fel d 1 than others, there are no cats with no Fel d 1.
“Hypoallergenic” cats do shed less Fel d 1 and may be able to interact with people with allergies without causing an allergic reaction. But you won’t know what kind of reaction someone will have to your cat before they meet. So, it’s essential to do your due diligence and warn your friend and clean up your house before they come over.
Why It’s So Hard to Produce a Truly Hypoallergenic Cat
While researchers are doing their best to engineer a hypoallergenic cat genetically, this is no easy task. Many factors are standing in the way of a truly hypoallergenic cat.
The first is that we aren’t sure what Fel d 1 does for cats. Theories suggest that Fel d 1 protects the skin when spread over it in the saliva. Without knowing what Fel d 1 does for cats, it’s hard to remove the protein from cat bodies; we don’t even know what systems to target when beginning the process.
While cats don’t seem to suffer from adverse effects from a lessened production of Fel d 1, we can’t say for sure what would happen if they stopped producing it together. It would be unethical, at best, to produce a breed of cats that lack a critical protein. While there’s a chance that Fel d 1 isn’t necessary for cats, there’s also a chance that it is. Until we discover the purpose behind Fel d 1, we can’t begin to remove it from the bloodlines without risking bringing forth kittens who are terminally ill.
While it may be disappointing to find out that hypoallergenic cats are more of a futuristic concept, the good news is that people with mild cat allergies can still enjoy a life with cats if they want one. Bengals are an excellent option for anyone looking to share their home with a low-shedding, hypoallergenic cat! You won’t find hair nor dander in a house with a Bengal.
Featured Image Credit: Elena Borisova, Pixabay