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Do you love cats, but have concerns about allergies? You’re not alone. Millions of people suffer from allergies and many of them want cats. Luckily, there are plenty of hypoallergenic cat choices that are better for allergy sufferers. So I decided to do some research to see if Burmese cats could save the allergy situation.
So, are Birman cats hypoallergenic? No, Birman cats are not completely hypoallergenic. Although not officially classified as “hypoallergenic”, Birman cats cause fewer allergy symptoms in many people than many other cats. Birman cats produce fewer allergens than other cat breeds, which alleviates allergy symptoms. Because they have no undercoat, they shed less hair and allergens.
While not entirely hypoallergenic, they are a great choice for pets if you’re trying to sneeze a lot less around the house. Of course, that’s not the only interesting thing about Burmese cats. Read on for more information on hypoallergenic cats and what it’s like to own a Birman.
Burmese cats are not entirely hypoallergenic
As mentioned, Burmese cats aren’t technically hypoallergenic, but they don’t usually create such severe allergic reactions. It is not the fur itself that creates the allergy, but the cat’s saliva and dander. Although they produce as much dander as other cats, they have no undercoat and their long, silky fur is not prone to matting, so less fur, saliva and dander come off. Therefore, they may be better for allergy sufferers.
Hypoallergenic cats include:
- Oriental Shorthair
- Cornish Rex
- Russian blue
- Devon Rex
- The Perm
- Colorpoint short hair
The reality, however, is that truly hypoallergenic cats do not exist. Even the Sphynx cat is not entirely hypoallergenic. So while the above list may be cats that cause less, hypoallergenic allergies are technically a misnomer.
Since the allergy actually involves proteins in cat saliva, skin and urine, and all cats have these proteins, no cat can be completely hypoallergenic. The best we can hope for is that the cat doesn’t shed much, and the Burmese have an advantage there. Some people also find that their allergies lessen the longer they have the cat.
Does the allergy improve over time?
All owners of pets with allergies should remember that exposure can reduce the severity of your allergy. When you first bring home a Birman, or any cat, you are going to have a more severe reaction than you will after a month of living with them.
This is because allergies are basically an overreaction of your immune system. Continued exposure teaches your immune system that the allergen is less of a problem, reducing the overall reaction.
This is why some children with extreme peanut allergies end up taking tiny, controlled doses of peanuts at allergy clinics. Controlled exposure can help reduce their reaction if they are accidentally exposed later.
The same works with cats and other pet allergies. That doesn’t mean you have to breathe through your cat’s tree or let it lick your face and nose. But just living close to each other and sharing the same space and air will provide enough exposure for this effect to work.
Do male or female cats produce more allergens?
Believe it or not, your cat’s gender matters for the number of allergens it releases into the air. Birmans already have an advantage over other cats because they shed less and there’s less chance of the protein you’re allergic to spreading.
But you might also want to consider getting a female cat instead of a male. Females produce fewer allergens than male cats. Castrated males produce fewer allergens than intact males, but still slightly more than queens.
Bringing home a girl can make it easier to manage your cat allergy, although we don’t necessarily recommend having a girl for everyone with a cat allergy. There can be big personality differences between male and female cats, and female cats tend to be a bit more independent.
So if you’re looking for more companionship and attention from your cat, a boy might be a better choice. But if you’re looking for a cat that will be even more hypoallergenic, stick with a girl.
Does color matter when it comes to hypoallergenic cats?
Another question many cat owners have is whether the color of your cat’s fur affects the number of allergens it produces. The answer is yes, color does have an impact, but we don’t yet understand why.
As a general rule, dark colored cats produce more allergens than lighter colored cats. This doesn’t mean it will make a huge difference, but you may want to look for a lighter breed of cat or a lighter colored individual to reduce your allergic reaction.
This is another area where Burmese cats excel when it comes to being a hypoallergenic cat. They are all born white and develop some color as they age. That said, your typical Birman will maintain a lighter coat for life.
Kitten or adult?
There is another factor when it comes to cat allergens; kittens produce less. Combine that with the ongoing tendency for allergies to get better with exposure, and having a kitten may lessen the severity of your reaction to your cat.
However, the personalities of kittens are less predictable than those of adult cats. So if you are looking for a particular personality, you might want to choose an adult cat instead of a kitten.
It’s about how your allergy affects your priorities and what aspects of cat ownership are most important to you.
Habits that make living with cats and a cat allergy easier:
Of course, it’s not just about choosing a hypoallergenic cat. Once you have your new Birman or any other cat, there are also a few things you need to do to keep your allergy from causing problems.
The good news is that most of these habits are relatively easy to develop.
Avoid having cats on the bed
The first thing you need to do as a cat owner with a cat allergy is to teach your cat not to get up on the bed. A good night’s sleep is essential to keep your immune system working properly, which can reduce the severity of your allergy. Specifically, one night of insufficient sleep can worsen your allergy symptoms and make them more difficult to manage.
Some cat owners will keep their cat completely out of the bedroom, but this is often unnecessary until your cat gets on the bed. If your cat gets on the bed or you catch her on the bed, you should at least try to wash the litter box.
If it becomes a habit, that’s when you should consider keeping your cat out of your bedroom.
Before you get to that, you should consider giving your cat a small cat bed so he has his own place to stretch out and warm up.
Brush your cat regularly
One of the best things you can do is brush your cat regularly. This will help them produce less dander and also help contain the shedding so that it doesn’t randomly spread everywhere.
If you can cultivate a love of brushing in your cat, this is the best option. trust us; they will make sure you remember to brush them.
If your cat is aging, has muscle or skeletal problems, or is obese, brushing becomes especially important, especially near their hind legs and tail. These cats will have a harder time caring for their skin and fur themselves. You will help take care of them and take care of yourself at the same time.
Give your cat fish oil
Another habit you should develop is to give your cat a fish oil supplement. Not all cats like fish oil, even the delicious salmon oil supplements you can find at pet stores. It’s best not to force the problem unless your cat has another reason why he needs fish oil.
But, if you can get your cat used to consuming fish oil occasionally, it will help improve their skin health, reduce dander, and improve skin health. It also means fewer allergens in the air and on your furniture.
Invest in a good HEPA air filter
Sometimes you just need a break from allergens. It’s a good idea to get a HEPA air filter for your bedroom, office, or any other room where you spend a lot of time. This way you will have at least a few places with very low allergen counts where you can escape allergy symptoms.
Your bedroom is particularly important for the reason we have already mentioned; you have to breathe well to sleep well. And sleeping well is key to minimizing your allergy symptoms.
Between these good habits and the naturally low allergen counts of Birman cats and other hypoallergenic breeds, your cat allergy shouldn’t stop you from having a wonderful time with your cat.