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The Ragdoll breed is recognized for its distinct colorpoint coat, blue eyes, docile temperament, and affectionate nature. The breed gets its name from the tendency of these cats to go limp when held—like a kid’s ragdoll. Ragdoll cats combine many qualities humans look for in a feline: friendly, companionable, and absolutely adorable.
For four consecutive years, the Ragdoll has been determined by the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) to be the world’s most popular breed. With the growing interest, it’s likely that many people who want to bring a Ragdoll into their home also suffer from allergies.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, allergies to cats and dogs affect 10 to 20 percent of the world’s population. The severity of allergy symptoms varies, which leads many to consider “hypoallergenic” cats—those who produce less allergy-causing fel d 1 protein or are low-shedding breeds. While there’s no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic cat, some breeds have been found to be more allergen-friendly. This leads us to the question: Are Ragdoll cats hypoallergenic?
Are Ragdoll Cats Hypoallergenic?
All cats shed. Whether they’re “hairless” or have a thick, glossy coat—they still shed. While none of our furry friends are entirely hypoallergenic, some breeds are better suited for allergy sufferers.
The Ragdoll is a substantially-sized feline with a soft, full coat. These cats have long hair and lack an undercoat. Ragdolls have been called low-shedding compared to certain other long-haired breeds (Maine Coon, Persian, and Turkish Angora), but these floppy cats do shed.
Ragdolls shed moderately throughout the year and more heavily in spring and fall. Are Ragdoll cats hypoallergenic? Unfortunately, no. Raggies shed daily and require regular grooming. While brushing them daily might not be necessary, a few times a week is necessary. And while a Ragdoll may love to be brushed, your allergies certainly won’t like the process.
What Are Cat Allergies?
A common misunderstanding among those struggling with feline allergies is that a kitty’s fur is causing the allergic reaction. In actuality, allergy sufferers respond to the proteins in a cat’s saliva, dander (skin flakes), and urine.
Think about it. Felines spend a significant portion of their day grooming—between 30 to 50 percent of their waking time is dedicated to maintaining their coat. Grooming removes loose hair, cools the skin, and cleans the coat. Cat saliva contains proteins and enzymes that function as natural antibacterial agents. The tongue itself is covered in sharp spines called papillae that scientists have discovered can wick saliva into the undercoat, thus coating the hair. So, when you pet your cat, you’re coming in contact with allergens. When your cat sheds hair and skin throughout the home, you’re coming in contact with allergens. Even cleaning the litter box can lead to exposure.
Cat allergies happen when your body confuses the proteins in a feline’s saliva, urine, and dander as something dangerous. Considered a threat, your immune system goes into overdrive to eliminate the invader.
Symptoms of cat allergies include:
- Coughing or wheezing
- Hives or rash
- Itchy eyes
- Runny or stuffy nose
While rare, people with allergies to cats may also experience anaphylaxis. This severe allergic reaction causes difficulty breathing and can dangerously lower blood pressure. As a result, anaphylaxis can send the body into shock and even be fatal.
Why some people develop cat allergies is still not fully understood. Most people suffering from cat allergies experience mild to moderate symptoms. Depending on the severity of your allergies, you may be able to live with a feline companion. Others may need to avoid cats entirely.
While no cat is allergen-free, many cats can be considered hypoallergenic. Some kitties produce less of the Fel d 1 protein responsible for most allergic reactions in humans. According to the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, up to 95 percent of patients with cat allergies respond to Fel d 1.
Choosing a cat that produces lower Fel d 1 protein levels can relieve allergies. These cats include:
While some cats are considered hypoallergic because they produce less Fel d 1 protein, other cats simply shed less. Low-shedding breeds include:
View our list of 15 low-shedding cats for more feline options for allergy sufferers.
10 Tips To Reduce Allergic Reactions
If you’re set on adding a Ragdoll to your family, use these tips to reduce allergic reactions:
- Brush your cat daily. Brushing removes fur before it sheds. If possible, have someone that’s not allergic do the grooming. Regular brushing means fewer allergens in your home. Pro tip: brush your cat outside or use a grooming vacuum to ensure dander and excess hair don’t accumulate inside.
- Bathe your cat regularly to remove saliva from your cat’s fur. Make sure to use a cat-safe shampoo. There are also waterless cat shampoos that cleanse hair without adding soap and water.
- Apply a dander remover weekly. Make sure to wash your hands after.
- Wash your hands after handling your cat. Avoid touching your face after petting your kitty. While cat headbutts are super cute, they should be avoided if you don’t want an allergy flair-up.
- Keep a tidy home. When cleaning, pay particular attention to carpets, rugs, blankets, pillows, and soft furniture.
- Keep your cat off your clothes or anything that will be on your body for long periods.
- Don’t let your cat sleep with you. The bedroom should be a cat-free zone. Alternatively, you’ll need to clean your bedding often.
- Use air purifiers around the home to remove allergens and other particles from the air. You can also use an anti-allergen spray in the air and on surfaces to remove allergens.
- Scoop the litter box as often as possible. If possible, have someone else clean the litter box.
- Use antihistamines and decongestants to provide allergy relief. You may also consider allergy shots, an immunotherapy that introduces a small amount of the allergen into your body to stop your response to the allergen eventually.
Factors That Cause Shedding
Shedding is a natural part of a cat’s hair growth cycle. All cats shed to remove damaged hair and release oil onto the surface of their skin. Mose cats shed heavier in the spring and fall; however, other factors can affect how much your cat sheds:
- Age: As cats grow older, they tend to groom less. As a result, you’ll notice more shedding around the home.
- Nutrition: A poor diet can increase your cat’s shedding. Excessive hair loss signifies that your cat isn’t getting enough nutrients. (View our top picks for the best food for Ragdolls.) Adequate hydration is also essential for a healthy coat and reduced shedding.
- Pregnancy: Pregnant and lactating cats will shed more due to hormonal changes.
- Temperature: Cats tend to shed more when it’s warm. A cooler home will reduce shedding.
Health Factors That Affect Shedding
If you notice your cat is experiencing excessive shedding, consider visiting the vet. The following health issues may increase your cat’s shedding:
- Allergies: Like humans, cats can experience allergies. An allergic reaction can cause skin inflammation and hair loss.
- Diseases: Certain diseases, including kidney, liver, and thyroid disease, can increase hair loss.
- Infections: Inflammation from bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections can lead to hair loss.
If you’re concerned your pet is shedding due to a medical problem, consult with your veterinarian. They may prescribe a treatment plan for recovery.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Groom My Ragdoll Cat?
The Ragdoll has no undercoat, so they are less likely to have matted hair. Still, it’s best to groom your Ragdoll daily. If you find matted hair, try to break up the hair mat with your fingers, then gently brush out the mat using a wide-toothed metal comb. Next, gently brush from head to toe using your tool of choice (the Coastal Pet Safari Shedding Comb is a popular choice among Ragdoll owners). For an extra-glossy coat, finish by using a bristle brush all over the coat. This helps distribute oils throughout your Ragdoll’s coat for a healthy shine.
Which Cat Is The Most Hypoallergenic?
If you want a fluffy cat that’s hypoallergenic, consider the Siberian. This breed produces far less Fel d 1 protein than other breeds. Alternatively, our list of 15 low-shedding cats will give you other options for low-shedding cats/hypoallergenic cats.
If you suffer from significant cat allergies, you may not be able to live with a feline companion; however, those with mild to moderate allergies may live with a Ragdoll if they take steps to reduce allergens in the home. You and your feline can live a happy and healthy life by taking the proper precautions.