The Birman breed is recognized for their blue eyes, color-pointed coats, and white paws. If you’re considering introducing a Birman into your home but have cat allergies, you’re undoubtedly curious if the Birman is a hypoallergenic breed.
You may have already discovered that some cats upset your allergies more than others. While many people are allergic to their feline friends, they can still care for their pets to the fullest extent. A significant benefit of purchasing a pedigreed cat is knowing that they are less likely to upset your allergies. But is there such a thing as a hypoallergenic cat? Read on to learn about cat allergies and discover if the Birman breed is hypoallergenic.
Are Birman Cats Hypoallergenic?
All cats shed in some form, whether it’s their fur or dead skin cells. While no feline is truly hypoallergenic, some cat breeds are better suited for allergy sufferers. The Birman has a fluffy, long coat that, on first look, would have you running to the tissue box; however, despite their long coat, the Birman is a relatively low shedder. All Birman cats have a single coat instead of a double coat, so their fur doesn’t get matted like other long-haired breeds.
Additionally, the Birman needs minimal grooming, which makes them a good fit for anyone with allergies. While other breeds may be better suited for people with allergies, the Birman is considered more hypoallergenic in cats.
The Birman Cat
It is believed that the Birman originated in western Burma, arriving in France in 1919 and the United States in 1959. From there, the Birman cemented their status as a pedigreed cat when the Cat Fanciers’ Association recognized them in 1967.
This breed is known for being sweet, gentle, and affectionate. This quiet kitty is still friendly, showing curiosity about new people and places. The Birman loves humans and will happily follow you around the home, day after day. Give your Birman daily playtime and cuddles for a happy kitty.
Birmans are medium-sized with long, silky coats. They weigh from seven to 15 pounds, with males being larger than females. This cat is sturdy and well-proportioned. From tip to end, this feline measures 15 to 18 inches long.
Birmans are known for their distinctive colorpoint coat, white feet, and striking blue eyes. This cat may have four color point patterns: blue point, seal point, lilac point, and chocolate point. Birmans may also be tabby or tortie pattern.
What Are Cat Allergies?
Those of us with cat allergies are actually reacting to protein in a cat’s saliva, dander (skin flakes), or urine. Cat allergies happen when your body confuses something harmless—like dander—for a dangerous invader, and your immune system goes in overdrive to eliminate the suspect.
Symptoms of cat allergies include:
- runny, itchy, stuffy nose
- coughing or wheezing
- hives or rash
- red, itchy eyes
When a cat grooms, they shed here, there, and everywhere. Because all cats shed in some way, if you’re allergic to one cat, you’re allergic to them all. Still, those “hairless” breeds or those with lighter coats may shed less than others and thus may be considered “hypoallergenic.”
Health Factors That Affect Shedding
While we know that some cats shed more than others, increased shedding may signal a medical issue. Recognizing the difference between normal and excessive shedding is an easy way to keep your feline healthy. If you notice bare patches are redness on your kitty’s skin, it’s time to call the vet.
Based on the history you provide to your vet and a physical examination, they can determine the underlying cause of the shedding. Additional lab tests may be needed before creating a treatment plan. These tests include skin scrapes, blood work, and urinalysis.
The following health issues may affect your cat’s shedding:
- Parasites: If your cat has mites or fleas, they may chew or scratch their skin, causing more hair loss.
- Allergies: Allergies to food or the environment can cause skin inflammation and hair loss.
- Infections: Fungal and bacterial infections can inflame the skin and lead to loss of hair.
- Diseases: Hair loss is a symptom of many health conditions, including thyroid, liver, and kidney disease.
- Anxiety: Stress and anxiety can lead to excessive licking and chewing, leading to hair loss.
If it is determined that your cat is shedding due to a medical issue, your vet will prescribe a treatment plan. Follow your vet’s recommendations closely, and once the underlying problem is controlled, your cat’s shedding will return to an average level.
Other Factors That Affect Shedding
In the spring, a feline will lose their heavy winter coat, and in the fall pets shed old hair to make room for a new, heavy coat for the winter. This shedding cycle can be significantly altered if your cat spends their time indoors. Indoor cats are more likely to shed year around if the home temperature is controlled by air conditioning and heating. Other common factors that affect shedding are:
- Nutrition: Cats who are not fed a balanced, high-quality diet may experience more shedding. Feed your cat a nutrient-dense diet for healthy skin and cat.
- Age: As cats grow older, they tend to groom less often. As a result, this can either lead to more shedding or matted fur.
- Pregnancy: Pregnant and lactating cats shed more due to hormonal changes.
Tips To Reduce Allergic Reactions
If you’re allergic to cats but want to bring one of these adorable felines into your home, take these steps to prevent an allergy attack:
- Regularly clean your home to remove fur from your environment. Invest in a vacuum that specializes in pet hair.
- Buy an air purifier that uses a HEPA filter. While they can be expensive, a quality air purifier is highly effective at removing allergens and other particles from the air.
- Control your cat allergies with standard allergy drugs like antihistamines and decongestants. Consider allergy shots. This form of immunotherapy introduces a small amount of the allergen into your body to eventually relieve your symptoms and eliminate your allergy response completely.
- Bathe your cat regularly to remove saliva from their fur while also loosening up fur that is ready to shed.
- Brush your cat to remove fur before it sheds. If possible, brush your cat outside rather than letting the hair and dander accumulate in your home.
- Keep your cat away from clothes, bedding, or anything you will be using for long periods. Make your bedroom a feline-free zone, and use lint rollers to remove fur from clothes and soft surfaces.
- Wash your hands after petting your cat, and avoid kissing your furry friend.
- Clean the litter box two or more times a day to remove the allergy-causing protein that is in your cat’s urine. If you can limit contact with the litter box by switching to a self-cleaning litter box, your immune system will thank you.
How Do I Groom My Birman Cat?
Thankfully, while this breed’s coat is long, it doesn’t have a defined undercoat and therefore needs little grooming. Brush your cat with a soft-bristle brush at least once a week to encourage a healthy, glossy coat. If you are concerned about shedding, brush more regularly, as this will prevent the spread of dander and fur.
Give your Birman regular baths to cut down on allergens. Use a cat-safe shampoo that is gentle enough for your feline’s skin. Always avoid your feline’s face, eyes, and ears. If your cat allows it, use a hair dryer specifically for cats. Helping your cat dry will prevent extra licking after bathtime. A cat dryer box is especially helpful because it prevents cat hair from flying around.
Frequently Asked Questions
What makes some cats more allergy-producing?
The major allergy-stimulating protein in a cat’s saliva, urine, and dander is called Fel d 1. A 2018 article in the Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology (AACI) journal shows that while there are ten identified cat allergens, Fel d 1 takes the greatest toll on human health. Some cats produce higher levels of this protein. Non-neutered males are known to have higher levels of Fel d 1. While the purpose of this protein is unknown, scientists hypothesize that the protein may be involved with pheromone signaling or protecting a cat’s skin.
What Cats Are Hypoallergenic?
While ultimately, there are no true hypoallergenic cats, here are a few breeds that don’t shed as much:
- Cornish Rex
- Devon Rex
- Oriental Shorthair
- Russian Blue
While people with highly-sensitive allergies may not be able to live with a furry feline, there’s hope for those with mild or moderate allergies. Cats like the Birman are considered more hypoallergenic and are less likely to create an immune response in you or a family member with allergies. By taking the right precaution, you can live with a cat and be happy for many congestion-free years to come.