Are Abyssinian Cats Hypoallergenic?
There is a myth in the cat world that some breeds are hypoallergenic. However, the truth is no breed is 100% allergy-free. Even so, that doesn’t mean if you or a household member is allergic to cats, you cannot experience the joys of having a feline companion.
Certain breeds are better suited to those with allergies as they produce fewer allergens. Therefore, these breeds may be less likely to trigger symptoms. Still, it depends on the severity of your allergy.
The intelligent and energetic Abyssinian breed is a firm favourite amongst cat lovers in the UK and beyond. Therefore, allergic families considering bringing an “Aby” into their home often wonder how safe it is to do so. Let’s explore how hypoallergenic these cats are and what you can do to keep your allergy symptoms at bay.
What causes cat allergies?
Most people mistakenly believe that cat fur causes allergic reactions and assume longer hair cats have the most allergens. However, it’s not the fur that causes the problem.
Instead, the leading cause of allergic reactions is from proteins that all cats produce. There are numerous allergy-causing proteins, but the most significant is Fel D1. This protein is present in cat saliva, which gets onto a cat’s fur when they groom. Fel D1 triggers allergic reactions when it comes into contact with our skin and eyes or is inhaled. Therefore, those who are allergic may experience symptoms when they pet their cat or snuggle with them.
External allergens can also get trapped in a cat’s fur, such as dander, dust, and pollen. What’s more, high levels of shredding can significantly increase allergenic levels. As Fel D1 gets onto the fur every time a cat grooms itself, the more it sheds, the more allergens it spreads. Shredding is most problematic for those who experience breathing problems due to their allergy rather than skin reactions.
Are Abyssinian cats good for people with allergies?
Although Abyssinians are not often referred to as a hypoallergenic breed, they are certainly not the worst choice for allergy sufferers. They have an overall hypoallergenic score of 4/10. This is due to their low dander production, low shedding levels, and low Fel D1 production levels.
Therefore, those with mild allergies will generally have no problems with an Abyssinian in the home. Because of Abyssininan’s low Fel d1 levels, a mildly allergic person could come into contact with the saliva on their Aby’s fur without noticing a reaction.
Abyssinians are also suitable for allergy sufferers because they have short coats and do not shed much. They have a shredding level of 3/10, so you are less likely to be exposed to allergens.
Training your Abyssinian
Aside from their low dander and shedding levels, Abyssinians are incredibly clever and can be trained easily. Therefore, if you’re allergic, you can teach your Abyssinian not to lick you, to stay out of your bedroom, or to stay off the sofa and other textile furnishings.
This unique trait makes Abyssinians one of the best cats to have if someone is allergic. Unlike many breeds that cannot be trained, your Aby will understand and respect your boundaries if you dedicate the time and patience to teaching them.
If your allergy is more moderate than mild, you could consider getting an Abyssinian crossbreed. Abyssinians bred with Bengals or Siamese are common mixes, and they may produce fewer allergens than a pure Abyssinian.
Tips for allergic families
Remember that Abyssinians, like all cat breeds, are not 100% hypoallergenic. Therefore, if you bring an Aby or any other cat into your home, you should take precautionary measures if someone is allergic. Here are a few tips on how you can enjoy life with an Abyssinian without the worry of your allergy flaring up.
- Brush and comb your cat regularly - Like most cat breeds, Abyssinians release the allergens trapped in their fur when they shed. Therefore, you can manage their shredding level by brushing your Aby at least once a week. However, remember to do it outside to prevent fur and allergens from getting into your home.
- Give your cat fish oil supplements - Adding fish oil or omega-3 supplements to your cat’s diet helps keep their fur healthy and shiny. It may also reduce allergen levels in their body.
- Give your cat baths to minimize dander - Another way to reduce Fel D1 levels is to give your cat baths. However, as many cats do not take kindly to water, this is not practical for all kitties. Therefore, as an alternative, you can wipe your Aby down with a damp cloth. If you decide to give them a bath, make sure you use cat-specific shampoo that won’t irritate their skin.
- Use air purifiers - Placing a few high-quality air purifiers or HEPA filters around your home can help to reduce dander and allergens.
- Vacuum regularly - Hoovering your house a few times a week can be a bit of a pain, but it will significantly reduce allergen levels. Don’t just vacuum your carpets though, make sure you hoover all textile surfaces such as sofas and chairs.
- Keep allergy remedies on hand - Regardless of how hypoallergenic your cat is, you should always have a sufficient supply of antihistamines and other allergy medication. In this way, you can tackle symptoms immediately, should they crop up.
- ● Sphinx - No fur = no shedding.
- ● Balinese - Despite having long fluffy fur, they produce a low amount of Fel D1 protein and have a single layer coat.
- ● Javanese - They have a single coat that doesn’t mat or shred much.
- ● Cornish Rex - They have a super short topcoat that hardly sheds and no undercoat.
- ● Devon Rex - They have shorter and less fur than the Cornish, resulting in even less shedding.
What are other hypoallergenic cat breeds?
If you’re open to other cat breeds, the following are good options.
If you have your heart set on an Aby but are concerned about your allergies, there is no need to worry. While Abyssinians are not officially hypoallergenic, they are certainly one of the best choices for families with cat allergies.