Are British Longhair Cats Hypoallergenic: Why This Breed Can Cause Allergies and How to Manage Symptoms

No, British Longhair cats are not considered hypoallergenic. While some cat breeds have been developed to produce fewer allergens, the allergens that cause allergic reactions in humans are found in the cat’s saliva, skin, and urine, not in its fur. British Longhair cats produce these allergens, so people with cat allergies can have allergic reactions to British Longhair cats. 

However, some people with mild cat allergies may find they can tolerate living with British Longhair cats better than other cat breeds, as individual cats can vary in their allergen production.

Why British Longhair Cats Cause Allergies

As mentioned, British Longhair cats, like all cats, produce allergens that can cause allergic reactions in some people. These allergens are found in the cat’s saliva, skin, and urine and are released into the environment when the cat grooms itself, sheds hair and skin cells, or uses the litter box.

The primary allergen that causes allergic reactions in humans is a protein called Fel d 1, found in the cat’s saliva, skin, and urine. When the cat grooms itself, the allergen is deposited on its fur. When the fur sheds or the allergen is released into the environment through saliva or urine, it can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.

Like British Longhair cats, Longhair cats may produce more dander, which is composed of dead skin cells, than shorthair cats, which can make some people more sensitive to them. Additionally, longhair cats may shed more, releasing more dander and allergens into the environment.

It’s important to note that individual cats can vary in their allergen production, regardless of their hair length or breed. So it’s always a good idea to spend time with a cat before adopting it to see if you have any allergic reactions before committing.

How to Manage Allergies When You Have a British Longhair

1. Keep the Home Clean

Keeping the home clean is vital for allergy management when you have a British Longhair or any cat because it helps to reduce the number of allergens in the environment. Allergens are the substances that trigger an allergic reaction, and for many people with cat allergies, the allergens are found in the cat’s saliva, skin, and urine.

When a cat grooms itself, the allergens from its saliva are deposited on its fur, which can then shed or be transferred to surfaces in the home. The cat’s skin and urine can also release allergens into the environment. Allergens can remain in the environment for long periods and are easily spread by air circulation or movement in the home.

Dusting surfaces with a damp cloth can help trap allergens instead of stirring them into the air. Mopping hard floors can help to remove allergens that have settled on the surface.

2. Use Air Purifiers

Allergens can become airborne and are easily inhaled, triggering an allergic reaction. Air purifiers with HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters can capture various airborne particles, including pet dander and other allergens. 

These filters force air through a fine mesh that traps pet hair, pollen, and dust particles. In addition, they can benefit individuals with severe cat allergies or respiratory problems like asthma. 

By reducing the number of airborne allergens, air purifiers can help to reduce the frequency and severity of allergic reactions. However, it’s important to note that air purifiers should not be the only method for managing cat allergies. Instead, they should be used in combination with other strategies.

3. Groom the Cat Regularly

Regular grooming, including brushing and bathing, can help reduce the amount of loose hair and dander shed by the cat and remove the allergens in the cat’s fur. 

Brushing the cat daily can also help to distribute natural oils throughout its coat, which can help to reduce dry skin and dander. Bathing the cat can help to remove allergens from its fur, but it’s essential to use a cat-friendly shampoo and to avoid bathing the cat too frequently, as this can dry out its skin.

In addition to reducing the number of allergens present in the cat’s fur, regular grooming can also help reduce the number of allergens present in the home. By removing loose hair and dander from the cat, less of these allergens will be shed and deposited on surfaces in the home.

4. Use Allergy Medication

Allergy medication can effectively manage cat allergy symptoms, allowing individuals to live comfortably with their cats. While regular cleaning, grooming, and other strategies can help reduce the number of allergens in the environment, it can be challenging to eliminate them. As a result, many people with cat allergies still experience symptoms even with these strategies in place and need medication.

Several types of allergy medication are available, including antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal corticosteroids. These medications work by blocking the release of histamine, reducing inflammation, and constricting blood vessels, which can help to alleviate symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and congestion.

It’s important to note that allergy medication should be used as directed by a healthcare professional and that some medications may cause side effects or interact with other medications. 

5. Create a “Cat-Free” Zone

By creating a designated area that is off-limits to cats and regularly cleaning it to remove any cat-related allergens, people with cat allergies can better manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

When creating a cat-free zone at home for allergy management, it is essential to choose areas where a person spends a lot of time or sleep, as this is where exposure to cat allergens can significantly impact their health. Some areas that may be designated as cat-free zones include:

  • Bedrooms: This is especially important as people spend several hours in their bedrooms each night and can be exposed to cat allergens that may have accumulated on bedding, pillows, and carpets.
  • Living rooms: Since the living room is a common gathering place for families, it can be beneficial to create a cat-free zone to reduce the risk of exposure to cat allergens.
  • Study areas or home offices: These areas are essential for people who work from home or spend a lot of time studying. Having a cat-free zone in these areas can help reduce distraction and minimize the impact of cat allergies on productivity.
  • Exercise rooms or home gyms: For people who like to exercise at home, having a cat-free zone in the exercise room can help prevent exposure to cat allergens during physical activity.

6. Consider Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, can help with cat allergies by desensitizing the immune system to the allergens from cats. The treatment involves gradually increasing doses of the allergen over time to build up the body’s tolerance to it. This can reduce the severity of allergic reactions and improve symptoms over time.

Immunotherapy is often recommended for people with moderate to severe cat allergies who have not found relief from other treatments, such as medications or avoiding cat exposure. It can take several months to years for immunotherapy to be effective, but it can provide long-lasting relief from cat allergy symptoms. 

It is essential to discuss the potential risks and benefits of immunotherapy with a healthcare professional to determine if it is an appropriate treatment option for an individual’s specific needs.