It’s hard being allergic to cats when you’re a cat lover. Some hardy people take in cats anyway and prefer to suffer with their allergy symptoms rather than give up their furry friends. Wouldn’t it be great if there were hypoallergenic or non-allergenic cats for sale? That’s the siren song that has fleeced hundreds of wallets in the last couple of decades.
Keep in mind that hypoallergenic does not mean the same thing as non-allergenic. Some unscrupulous cat breeders will use the terms interchangeably. Hypoallergenic only means that it is less likely to cause allergic reactions than a regular specimen.
Why Are People Allergic to Cats?
It’s a common misconception that people who are allergic to cats are allergic to the cats’ fur. Another myth is that it’s really the cats’ skin that people are allergic to. It’s actually neither. It’s a protein in the cat’s saliva called Fel D1 that people become allergic to. Since the cat constantly grooms itself, plenty of that saliva is found on cat fur, cat skin and just about everywhere else on a cat.
Some breeders of hairless or mostly hairless cats like the Canadian Sphynx claim that their cats are hypoallergenic. This is not true. There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat. There also is no cat on the planet that will be 100% guaranteed not to cause an allergic reaction in anyone. Everyone’s reaction to an individual cat will vary according to that individual person’s unique body chemistry.
The Great Hypoallergenic Cat Scam
Who would pay $26,950 for a cat without the Fel D1 protein in its saliva? A surprising amount of people did. Back in 2006, the Ashera and Ashera GD cats were claimed by a Southern California company called Allerca Pets (also known as Lifestyle Pets) to be non-allergenic. Allerca Pets claimed that the cat’s lack of the protein was due to “a naturally occurring gene mutation.” They did not supply any scientific studies to back up these facts. Their sales website was slick and filled with testimonials from supposedly satisfied customers.
These incredibly expensive cats for sale became incredibly expensive hoaxes. Many people who paid never received a cat and those that did discovered that it was a Savannah cat. Savannahs are expensive cats because they are cross-bred with an African Serval. DNA tests of an Ashera GD in 2008 proved that the cat was a Savannah. Lawsuits commenced. Fortunately, Allerca Pets is no longer in business.
What Can a Cat Lover Do?
If a cat lover really wants a cat, then there are some cats that are considered to trigger less severe reactions than others, according to Petfinder. Choose a female dark-colored cat. They produce less Fel D1 than males and light-colored cats.
You don’t have to trawl through hundreds of cats for sale ads to find such a cat. Just go to your nearest animal shelter. The cat will not be entirely free. There an adoption fee, which is usually less than $75. This fee discourages people who gather cats to sell to medical labs. It also helps the shelter continue to take care of other cats.