Approximately 10 per cent of the United States population has a pet allergy, with allergies to cats twice as common as allergies to dogs, according to WebMD.com. Instead of being allergic to a cat's fur, people with cat allergies are actually allergic to the proteins found in a cat's saliva, urine and dander. Because of this, there are currently no known hypoallergenic cat breeds, although some like the Burmese have a reputation for being so.
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About Cat Allergies
Just as with other types of allergies, people that are allergic to cats have a reaction to a specific stimuli found only in cats. The most common triggers are a cat's saliva, dead skin or urine, which all shed a specific protein into the cat's environment, according to PetEducation.com. The severity of a person's allergic reaction to a cat can range from a simple runny nose or watery eyes to a full-blown asthma attack.
Burmese is a breed of cat that has a short-haired, satin-like coat that requires little to no grooming, according to its profile on the Cat Fanciers' Association website. Burmese cats are very people-oriented and have been described as having dog-like personalities in their willingness to please their owners. Because they have such short coats and have a reputation for doing well in homes with allergy sufferers, many people wrongly believe them to be hypoallergenic cats.
The Myth of Hypoallergenic Cats
Many breeders' websites market Burmese cats as hypoallergenic because the feedback from customers with cat allergies has been overwhelmingly positive. However, since all cats shed skin or saliva, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat, according to PetEducation.com.
Testing the Burmese
For cat lovers who suffer an allergy to cats, it is possible to live a peaceful co-existence with certain cat breeds. Many breeders will allow prospective customers to spend time with cats available for purchase in order to test a reaction before a long-term commitment is made. Numerous forums and websites show that many allergy sufferers do have a milder reaction to Burmese cats. However, there will always be some people more sensitive to the breed than others.
Reducing Allergy Symptoms
If symptoms are mild or moderate, allergy sufferers who refuse to give up their pet cat can take measures to be more comfortable in their shared environment. According to PetEducation.com, such owners can install a good HEPA air filter in their home, clean and vacuum regularly, keep the cat out of bedrooms, bathe the cat weekly and consult a doctor about taking maintenance medication for allergies.
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