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Is there such a thing as a hypoallergenic cat? Can some breeds be less triggering than others? These questions get asked every day.
Cat allergies are no small challenge. This is especially true for people who love cats but have a sneezy, itchy, watery-eyed reaction at just the thought of a feline. Cat allergies can range from mild to severe, and there are ways, including medication people can take, to minimize allergy effects.
Another way of minimizing or avoiding an allergic reaction to felines is to get a hypoallergenic breed. One breed that is often referred to as hypoallergenic is the Bengal cat. Is this beautiful feline breed allergen-free? We dive in to find out if Bengal cats are hypoallergenic.
Contrary to widespread belief, pet allergies, including cat allergies, are not caused by pet hair. Instead, they are an allergic reaction to proteins the animal produces that are present in their skin and urine and spread through saliva. Fel d 1 is the main protein that is believed to provoke human allergic reactions from contact with felines.
Feline allergies are usually triggered by the spread of dander or this protein present on their hair, usually distributed when they groom themselves. Allergy reactions and symptoms can be very mild or very severe. They can include itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose, coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, tightening of the chest, face pain, watery eyes, skin rash, hives, or severe reactions like asthma attacks.
Cat allergies can also cause long-term effects like trouble sleeping, eczema, itchy skin, swollen eyes, and more. These can occur from direct contact with an animal or by being in a room where there is a lot of dander present. The severity and sensitivity of an individual to cat allergies will vary.
Hypoallergenic cats are those breeds that are less likely to trigger allergic reactions. Owners should remember that 100%, zero allergen-producing, fully hypoallergenic cats do not exist. People who suffer from allergies are provoked by different triggers. In fact, the same cat can trigger different allergic reactions in people who all suffer from cat allergies. There are, however, some cat breeds that tend to be less allergy-inducing than others. This is due to these breeds producing less of the protein that triggers allergies and other things like less fur shedding.
Bengal cats are a gorgeous hybrid feline breed. These big beauties were developed by mixing a wild Asian leopard cat with different domestic cats, including the American Shorthair, Abyssinian, and Egyptian Mau. The hybrid breed was created around the 1970s.
The first felines of this breed are said to have been developed by a researcher named Dr. Willard Centerwall from Loma Linda University. He bred the cats to study leukemia. Once the research was done, the cats were given to a breeder who made them with other domestic house cats to curate today’s gorgeous cat known as the Bengal.
Bengal cats are known for their wild-looking appearance. They are often called pet leopards. They get relatively large and can reach between 12 and 20 pounds. Their gorgeous coats are usually short hair, though several long hair varieties exist. These hybrids are incredibly smart, high-energy, and very affectionate. They make lovely, exotic-looking pets and are growing in popularity worldwide.
Bengal Cat Allergies
Bengal cats are a breed referred to as hypoallergenic. They are a prevalent breed for cat lovers who happen to have allergies. This does not mean they are entirely allergy-free. However, there are far fewer reactions to Bengals than to some other breeds. Though the specific reason is unknown, these kitties produce less dander than other breeds. They also produce less of the allergy-inducing protein Fel d 1. They are also single-coated felines, so they shed much less than double-coated kitties. Pet leopards groom themselves less due to their short hair and spread less saliva. The combination of producing and distributing less of this allergen is why these cats are called hypoallergenic.
Many Bengal kitties are bred for their unique look and coarser, pelted hair. Their fur is often compared to a rabbit’s because it is so soft and dense. Their coat is quite short and soft, meaning the kitty does not need to groom themselves as often. Additionally, owners can also feed their felines a diet high in Omega 3s and include raw meat, which can further help reduce the amount of dander they release. Keep in mind that all allergy sufferers have different sensitivities and symptoms, so not every pet leopard will trigger the same reaction.
It is possible to discuss with breeders any allergy concerns and find bloodlines that are specifically bred to be less allergy-provoking. All feline breeds produce the allergy-provoking protein, every kitty has dander, and all breeds other than true hairless varieties will shed. Owners need to keep this in mind when searching for a hypoallergenic cat breed.
If possible potential Bengal owners should spend some time with the kittens and the parents of the kittens they will be adopting. They may also want to spend time with different Bengals to see what kind of reaction each different cat will provoke. Having this close contact a few times before adoption can be extremely helpful in seeing if this breed triggers an allergic reaction.
If a potential kitty parent knows that they have had an allergic reaction to a particular breed, it is best to avoid that breed. It is always an excellent experiment to visit a category or shelter and spend time with different kitties before adopting. Not only does this allow one to monitor allergy symptoms, but it also gives time to bond with and get to know different kitties. Plus, many cats in shelters are in dire need of human attention, so it is great for them to get visitors.
Tips To Reduce Allergies
Kitty owners can take several steps to help prevent allergic reactions as well. Along with choosing a hypoallergenic breed like the Bengal, owners can take allergy medications. There are also several steps they can take within their homes to reduce the spread of allergens as much as possible. These include:
- Diet can be a crucial factor in the health of a kitty and the quality of their skin and coat. Pet leopards, like all felines, are obligate carnivores and need a diet rich in high-quality animal proteins. A high protein diet will support skin and coat health, but this breed also needs it throughout their lives to maintain their high energy and activity level. Many commercial pet foods will use meat substitutions and carbohydrates instead of animal proteins. Supplementing a Bengal cat’s diet with fresh raw meat can be helpful to their health and prevent human allergies. Always discuss a raw food diet with your veterinarian to ensure you provide everything your kitty needs.
- A HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filtration system in the home is designed to remove 99.97% of airborne particles like dust, mold, bacteria, and small proteins like Fel d 1.
- Cleaning a home regularly, particularly in areas where kitties hang out, is a huge step in preventing an allergy reaction. Wiping down surfaces, sweeping, and vacuuming floors and furniture all help reduce the number of allergens people are exposed to.
- Every feline owner should invest in a high-quality vacuum when their kitty is little. As we mentioned, all kitties produce the allergen-triggering protein, and even short-haired kitties will shed. All felines, regardless of the breed, will go through a bigger shed twice a year as the seasons change. Owners will want to have a high-quality vacuum on hand.
- Lint rollers are an invaluable tool for removing pet hair and dander from clothing and furniture. For many feline owners, keeping a lint roller in the car, stashed in backpacks and purses, and readily available throughout one’s home becomes second nature. Feline owners who know they suffer from allergies may want to make a significant investment in lint rollers.
- Pet hair-resistant furniture covers can be a clever way to keep hair from finding its way into the nooks and crannies of furniture. These products are also easy to clean and can help keep furniture looking good and allergen-free for a very long time.
- Regular grooming is a huge part of controlling cat allergies. Bengals are known to be excellent self-groomers. However, help from their owners with regular brushing and bathing will go a long way in getting rid of extra hair and dander that can provoke an allergic reaction. Grooming is also an excellent way to spend quality time and bond with a kitty, so all cats, regardless of the breed, should have regular brushing once or twice a week. All kitties need help with nail trimming and dental care to keep them in optimal health.
- A clean litter box is another significant factor in preventing allergic reactions from cats. If there is a known family member who suffers from allergies, it is best that they do not take on this job. Cleaning the litter box two or more times a day will limit exposure to the allergy-inducing protein. Remember, this allergen spreads through saliva, dander, and urine. Allowing the urine to sit there all day will increase the amount of this protein that spreads throughout the air and on your kitty’s paws and fur. Some owners also add an air purifier near the litter box to help dissipate this protein sooner.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do Bengal cats cause fewer allergies?
No one has been able to pinpoint the reason that some cats produce less of the allergy-inducing protein Fel d 1 that all felines produce. However, because they produce less of this protein and have shorter coats, these felines groom themselves less and produce less dander, spreading less of this allergy-inducing substance.
Are silver Bengal cats hypoallergenic?
Yes, all colors of Bengals, including silver, are considered hypoallergenic. Keep in mind that this does not mean they produce no allergens at all. However, many people experience far fewer allergies to this breed.
What makes some cats more allergy-producing?
Regardless of breed, male felines produce more allergic-inducing proteins than females, and intact males will produce the most. It’s believed that darker-colored kitties tend to cause more allergies than lighter-colored cats.
Can kittens cause allergies?
Kittens can cause allergies, but owners should keep in mind that kittens produce fewer allergens than adults. Owners may notice that their allergic reaction increases as their kitten ages. Because of this, it is always a good idea for people who know they have cat allergies to try and spend time with adult kitties of the breed they are hoping to adopt.
Bengal cats are a wonderful, exotic-looking breed of kitty that can be a wonderful choice for owners who suffer from cat allergies. Bengal cats are hypoallergenic because they produce fewer allergen-inducing proteins and shed less hair than many other breeds of felines. Hypoallergenic does not mean that they will never trigger an allergic reaction, as all people’s sensitivity is different. However, for people looking for a breed that is good for owners who suffer from allergies, the Bengal is a fantastic choice.