Do you have allergies and are looking for a new furry friend? If so, you might be surprised to learn that not all cats are hypoallergenic, even those with short fur. British Shorthair Cats, in particular, are often misperceived as hypoallergenic cats.
Though they do produce less of an allergy-causing protein called Fel D1 than other cats, it is still present in their saliva, dander, and urine. It’s also important to note that some people may come into contact with these allergens and will experience no reaction at all!
The short answer is British Shorthair cats aren’t hypoallergenic, but there are things you can do to live a happy life with your cat, even if you have allergies.
Why Are Some People Allergic to Cats?
To understand why British Shorthair cats are not hypoallergenic, we must first understand how allergies work. Allergies are caused by protein particles in the air (called an allergen), which we can contact through touch or inhalation.
For someone who has allergies, these allergens will cause an immune response that causes symptoms like sneezing, congestion, and coughing. For example, someone with hay fever might sneeze when they come in contact with pollen.
The misconception is founded in the fact that when British Shorthair cats shed their hair, they are not shedding these allergenic particles. However, this doesn’t mean they can’t still cause allergies!
It is believed that what causes allergies is not actually the fur but a protein present in their saliva. When a cat grooms, it will lick its fur, depositing the allergen on it. Once the fur sheds, particles become airborne and reach your nasal cavities.
This means that while a British Shorthair might not ‘shed’ these allergens directly, they are still in their saliva! When you pet them or snuggle with them on your couch, this can cause an allergy attack for someone who is reactive.
What Makes a Cat Hypoallergenic?
A hypoallergenic cat does not produce as many allergens in their saliva, which means they are less likely to cause a reaction. This would be indicated by the ‘H’ on the cat’s registration papers, which stands for “hypoallergenic.”
The type of fur your kitty has can also be a factor in determining exactly how allergenic your cat is. For example, if their undercoat is wiry and not soft or dense, it will shed less dander because the hair does not get deep into your skin when you pet them- which means that they are more hypoallergenic!
Cats with short coats like Persian cats are also hypoallergenic. If your cat allergies are too severe, you might have to look into adopting one of these hypoallergenic cats instead:
How to Live with a British Shorthair Cat and Allergies
So, what can you do if a British Shorthair cat still manages to cause an allergy?
It’s a good idea to keep your cat inside as much as possible, and if you can’t do this, then make sure they are always groomed before coming back in to help reduce allergens even more.
When it comes to litter boxes with British Shorthair cats, be sure to use high-quality litter made with natural products. You’ll also want to scoop out the box and change it frequently, which will help prevent any allergens from being released into your home’s air unnecessarily.
You could also invest in an air purifier, which works by filtering out allergens from the air. You’ll need a HEPA filter, an acronym for High-Efficiency Particulate Air, and will need to replace the filter once a year.
Grooming your cat regularly can help reduce the number of allergens that your cat sheds. It would help if you also considered getting a British Shorthair kitten since they typically have less fur and dander than an adult cat.
Grooming techniques are fairly simple. All you need to do is brush your cat at least once every other day with a metal comb. Be sure to brush against the direction that your fur grows, and use gentle pressure when doing so.
The idea is not only to get rid of some of the pet hair on your British Shorthair cat’s coat but also any loose dander in their skin. Fur from grooming your cat is best collected using a rubber brush and vacuum cleaner.
For some, frequent bathing is imperative for these cats in order to help reduce allergen levels on their fur and skin. Bathing will also remove any other allergens that they might have picked up from the environment.
Related Read: Chocolate British Shorthair: Facts, Origin & History
The easiest solution most people opt for is OTC allergy medicine. These usually work great for 24 hours, eliminating annoying symptoms like sneezing and a constant runny nose.
If you’re still having difficulties, speak with your doctor about an Allergen-Specific Immunotherapy (ASIT). ASIT is a form of allergy shots that can help reduce reactions to specific allergens. These shots usually work for up to three years.
There are also a few good habits you can pick up to reduce the severity or the frequency of your allergic reactions. Including as many of these as you can in your routine should significantly reduce your allergies. Common tips include:
Should You Still Get One?
British shorthair cats are an excellent pet for many people. They have irresistible personalities and can be very therapeutic to those who live alone.
However, if you’re allergic to them or they make your allergies worse, there’s help! With proper care and habits like brushing the cat regularly (to get rid of allergens) and cleanliness in both their litter box and house environment, these pets may not even end up causing any allergy problems at all. If you need extra help, opt for an allergy pill or shot, and that should take care of those last few sneezes!
We think you shouldn’t overlook this pet simply because it isn’t hypoallergenic! Learn more about these cats by visiting our blog section.
Featured Image Credit: lowpower225, Shutterstock