There are various benefits of owning an emotional support animal. Research and anecdotal evidence show that an ESA can help alleviate symptoms associated with an emotional or psychological disorder. They keep you calm, reduce anxiety, help in social situations; basically, they will always be there for you as your companion. To own an emotional support animal, you must apply for an ESA letter from a certified clinic like My ESA doctor.
Any pet that has a reasonable size and temperament for the job, can be an emotional support animal, with dogs and cats being the most popular ones. But, what if you are allergic to them? Pet allergies are common, and the severity and sensitivity depend on the pet. Cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies in the United States. That is why many Americans look for an emotional support cat who is hypoallergenic. Today, we will take a look at some of the best hypoallergenic cat breeds that can make your life simpler and happier. But first, let’s learn a bit more about what hypoallergenic cats are.
Defining Hypoallergenic Cats
Hypoallergenic just means “slightly” or “below average” allergic. That means hypoallergenic animals will cause fewer allergic reactions. When most people think that allergies are caused by dander or hair, the real culprit is the cat’s saliva. There is a protein in cat saliva, called Fel d 1, which causes allergies. Another major allergen in cats’ saliva is Fel d 4, while some other minor allergens are Fel d 2 and Fel d 3. People show different reactions to various allergens, which makes it almost impossible to consider a particular cat breed universally hypoallergenic.
If you feel you are allergic to cats, it’s probably because of their saliva. Cats lick themselves as part of their grooming process. This way they transfer these proteins to their hair. Then loose hair carries these proteins to allergic people’s noses. That’s why many people choose hairless kittens. One of the benefits of owning them is that you will have to vacuum fewer hairs. If you are like me (lazy), not a fan of cleaning, getting a hairless cat can be a good option.
Apart from the proteins present in a cat’s saliva, there are some other factors that can affect the allergen production in cats. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Male cats produce more allergens than female cats
- Non-neutered male cats produce more allergens than neutered male cats
- Adult cats produce more allergens than kittens
- Dark cats produce more allergens than light-colored cats
If you are an allergic person and you are looking for an emotional support cat, here is a list of the best hypoallergenic cats you can adopt.
One of the most common cat breeds that are associated with being hypoallergenic is Sphynx. These cats are especially beneficial for you if you are sensitive to cat fur, as there will be no fur allergy issues with sphynx. These cats have no fur, so there is no issue with saliva getting trapped in the fur. This makes sphynx a great choice for being an ESA for people with allergy problems.
While these cats are amazing, they do require some special care. They need frequent baths to get rid of gummy buildups of oil from their skin. You will also need to clean their large ears frequently. So, it is better to check out their needs before you get one. These cats are very loyal and devoted. They will follow their human companion and are full of affection.
Balinese are very friendly, affectionate, and playful cats who produce very less Fel D1 protein as compared to other cats. They have long hair but because of less production of Fel D1, they make a good hypoallergenic emotional support cat. These cats are good family cats, and they can bond well with children. But they do need your attention and you should not leave them alone for too long.
They have a fluffy appearance but shed very little. In fact, they are the least shedding cat when we talk about long-haired breeds. You will fall in love with their easy-going personality and talkative nature. These highly social cats can cheer you up with some happy chatter if you are not in a good mood. Balinese cats are sensitive to your mood.
Devon Rex cats resemble a hairless breed. But they have short curly hair and wag their tails when they are happy. Due to this, many people refer to them as “poodles that purr” because of the similarities to their dog counterparts, poodles. They have very little fur and shed very little as well. This makes them a great contender to be an ESA cat for people with allergies.
They have large ears that look like a satellite dish, which makes them look like elves and space aliens. Overall, they have an ethereal appearance with large, mischievous eyes. They will cuddle up with you at night and you will wake with morning kisses and purrs of love and affection.
Oriental Shorthair has an extremely short and fine coat that rarely sheds. This means that protein-laden hair does not get near allergic people, therefore leading to rare, if any, allergic reactions. However, to ensure that your oriental cat doesn’t lead to any allergic reactions, it is best to groom them regularly.
As an ESA, shorthairs love getting involved and up in your business at all times. Extremely energetic and enthusiastic, they love being the center of attention at all times. There’s never a boring moment with this one as it is known to be a natural entertainer.
Apart from the above-mentioned breeds, other breeds like Javanese, Cornish Rex, and Siberian are great ESAs for those allergic to cats. It’s crucial to remember that hypoallergenic cats are not free from allergy-causing proteins, however, the chances of having an allergic reaction are greatly diminished.