Humans can be allergic to fur, or dander, or a combination of both. Cat dander is formed from dried saliva and cat skin, but a Bengal may not trigger as much allergic reaction, so why is that?
To keep it short, Yes, Bengal cats are hypoallergenic because they produce less biomolecular allergen called Fel d 1. This is the protein that makes you allergic to cats, originating from their dead skin, urine, and saliva.
If you want to know the answer to the why you may skip ahead to this question: What makes a Bengal cat hypoallergenic?
First, Why are some people allergic to cats?
Before you go on, let’s dispel a misconception about your cat allergy. Most people think it’s the fur that’s triggering the reaction, but it’s actually not.
The real culprit here is the protein coming from your cat’s dander (dried flakes of skin), urine, and saliva. Your allergy is a result of an oversensitive immune system.
This protein is called Fel d 1, the most prominent cat allergen that accounts for 96% of human cat allergies. If interested, read more about it from this study.
Those little proteins do not do anything harmful upon inhalation, but for those who are allergic, it triggers your immune system to react. It sees those molecules as trespassers to your body, like a virus.
As a result, the system tries to eliminate this threat. Symptoms such as coughing, runny nose, and sneezing are the telling signs that your body is rejecting or getting rid of something you have inside of you (the protein may have been inhaled or fell along the cracks of a broken skin).
And on rare occasions, it may not even be a cat allergy, but something else your cat brought in with its fur from the outside, like pollen or dust, or both. It’s not just cats doing this, it can also be your dog (if you have any).
If you might be wondering, we pulled out all of this information from this article. Read more about it as it covers how cat allergies are treated and how to avoid it.
Since this is related to the main question, many cat owners testify that owning a Bengal didn’t flare up their allergies, so they stuck to the breed.
Are Bengal cats trully hypoallergenic?
I have something to tell you.
Hypoallergenic doesn’t mean no allergy, so before you start assuming, I want to make it clear that Bengal cats do not guarantee that they will not trigger or possibly cause a reaction. The prefix hypo is a Greek word that translates to under or beneath and was later made sense to be less or less than.
So, hypo plus allergy is equal to low-allergy. This means that a Bengal cat is a pet that can still trigger allergic reactions, but to a small degree.
So, it’s a yes or a no – it depends on your immune system really.
In the case of a Bengal, they don’t lick their coats to groom themselves that much, which lessens the spread of their saliva over their furs and the protein Fel d 1 with it. This is the molecule that you’re allergic of, and Bengals don’t have an abundance of this protein and they don’t shed it off too often.
While it depends on your body whether hypoallergenic cats work or not, Bengals are less likely to make it worse for you.
What makes a Bengal cat hypoallergenic?
So you already know that the cause of cat allergy is from the protein they produce from their dead skin, urine, and saliva. For a Bengal to be hypoallergenic, it produces less of the protein Fel d 1 from its dander.
Upon reaching adulthood, your Bengal’s coat won’t shed as much as other breeds do. Still, it will leave a few strands of fur here and there.
They also don’t groom themselves that often. Combine the fact that they have less allergenic protein and don’t shed much, Bengals make the one of the best hypoallergenic cats to own.
In this article, it states that Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, so feeding your cat with food rich with Omega-3 is a great choice for it to achieve a shiny coat and less shedding. Because fatty acids are just that – fat – they help give your cat a fuller, shinier coat.
Can I own a cat if I’m allergic?
Despite the risks (which is minor for others), some really want to own a cat anyway. It can’t be helped when they’re such beautiful creatures!
And yes, you can own a cat even if you’re allergic! But!
Make sure your allergies aren’t severe, otherwise it’s a problem. Though it makes one go aww that they aren’t suitable to care for a feline, prioritize your health first.
Those with milder reactions can tolerate it, as long as they take their prescribed medicine.
If you really really want a cat and your concerning allergies do not deter you, there are hypoallergenic cat breeds you can own, and one of them is a Bengal cat.
In my mom’s experience, who has asthma and is allergic to both dander and cat fur, she has no reaction ever since she owned two Bengals. Cheddar often sleeps on her stomach at night, and being that close to a cat used to cause her to have an asthma attack, but it’s not a problem anymore.
She says she doesn’t need a scientific study to tell her what she already knows. She is allergic to cats but not Bengal cats.
When my mom had an orange tabby cat named Stanley, before he died of old age, she had a friend that could not visit her at home because he was so very, very allergic to cats, he used to have an asthma attack just stepping into the entryway of the house.
Now he can stop by and visit anytime even though she now has two Bengals living with her. He does get a runny nose but that is his only reaction compared to his precious experiences.
How can you stop being allergic to cats?
I hate to break it to you, but you cannot just stop being allergic to cats when you want. I’ll answer more about this in the question below.
Meanwhile, what I can suggest are what to do to avoid the manifestation of that awful allergy.
- Keep the cat out of your furniture.
If you own a cat or live with someone who does, either you make the adjustments or the cat does. Dander (dried flakes of skin), urine, and saliva coming from the cat contain proteins that trigger your immune system to react.
So if it has been lying around on your bed or couch, and you cozy yourself up on the same spot, guess what’s going to happen? Allergies.
- Wash your sheets in hot water.
I’m talking about curtains, the bedding, the cover on your furniture – all those fabrics will catch flakes of your cat’s dried skin. And even if you somehow trained the cat or told the owner to make sure it’s not getting your sheets, you never really know.
Wash them all in hot water, by hand or machine. If you can do it yourself, soak it in hot water with powder.
- Clean, clean, clean.
Maybe it’s a cat allergy. Maybe it’s the dust and pollen your cat brings in.
Who knows at this point, unless you can afford a doctor to find out about your allergy.
According to WebMD:
Regular housecleaning can get rid of many allergy triggers and help relieve your symptoms. It helps to know some cleaning tips.
How often? Before a layer of dirt forms a crust on surfaces.
On the other hand, you can never go wrong with a Bengal cat!
I can’t assure you’ll stop being allergic to cats, but because Bengals are hypoallergic, they won’t trigger you as much since they produce fewer allergens than others.
Can you build immunity to cat allergies?
Yes, some are fortunate to develop an immunity to their allergy. On the ugly side of the coin, it could make it worse for you.
What you can do, though, is own a hypoallergenic cat (like a Bengal :D). Let’s tackle more about this in the next question.
Is there a true hypoallergenic cat?
Let me rephrase that question: Is there a cat that doesn’t carry any allergen?
First, to answer your question, a true hypoallergenic cat is a cat that causes just a tiny bit of allergy. I’ve discussed what that word means in the previous questions.
In short, hypoallergenic just means low allergy. A hypoallergenic cat is a pet that doesn’t trigger a reaction for the worse, but only mild symptoms for some (like my mom’s friend to her Bengals).
And then, to answer the rephrased question, no – there is no cat that doesn’t carry any allergen.
Why? Fel d1 protein, the cat allergen to humans, plays a role in the biological system of cats.
BioMedCentral states that Fel d 1 is still unknown in terms of its function. It has been suggested that its role is to protect the skin.
Other authors believe that Fel d 1 would rather have a role in the transport of lipid molecules, especially steroids, hormones or pheromones.
Either way, to say that there’s a true hypoallergenic cat, which does not make sense to me, is to wish that it’s a cat without the protein Fel d 1 in its system. Every molecule has a role in our body as much as theirs, so the best you can do is enjoy your low-allergen Bengal as much as my mom does.