Allergies

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A Sliding Scale

Odds are if you are reading this page it is because you came to my site and were thinking about buying  a hypoallergenic kitten from me.  Then again you could have just wandered in through a Google search.  It really doesn't matter.  Most of the principals are the same.


Think of your body like a bucket.  A steady stream of water drips into it and sometimes it overflows all over the floor making a huge mess.  Its not pretty.


The difference is a bucket cannot empty itself or control how much water makes its way into it but your body can.  It is a fairly rare thing to just be allergic to cats and nothing else.  These problems tend to come in groups.  If you have an allergy issue you usually have a laundry list of things you react to.  Mold, dust mites and pollen make up a small part of my list with other things that are not officially allergens like perfumes, VOCs, petrochemicals and other goodies that are not proteins and thus don't officially fall into the classification of allergens.  


At one point I was on 60mg of Prednisone and 3 different allergy medications all at once.  The side effects were a lot like what I imagine combining RedBull and Vodka would be.  I almost died.  I had to abandon my home and run away to live in the woods.  There were a couple of years where I did not dare leave my little allergen free bubble.  I still limit my exposure to most of society because short exposures can have a huge effect on my body but I have been able to take my life back.  What I have learned along the way can help people with far less dramatic allergy issues.

Testing For Reactions

Siberian Forest Cats  produce less of a protein called Fel D1 than most cats so they are considered hypoallergenic..  Not everyone who is allergic to cats is reacting to Fel D1 but it is the most common cause of a cat allergy.    There are tests some breeders do to help determine if someone will react to a theoretically hypoallergenic cat.  Some of them seem a little unrealistic to me because they are missing the point.


One of the tests is called the blanket or T-shirt test.  You send in a pillowcase, blanket or piece of clothing and they put the cat and item together then mail it back to you.  In theory the allergens from the cat would be all over the piece of cloth.  If you don't react then you should be fine, right?  Well, that is not really accurate.  Allergens decay.  While the T-shirt is in the mail those allergens are getting older and even coming off the fabric.  It is better than nothing but not accurate.


Then there are tests to measure Fel D1 levels in the parents with the intent of predicting allergen levels in the kittens.  That works to a degree but it is kind of pointless because some people are allergic to something other than the Fel D1 protein.  It also reduces the gene pool needlessly and ultimately contributes to inbreeding and resulting illnesses.


There is also the option of visiting the cattery and seeing if you die in the process.  Seriously, this is not a good idea.  If is like saying "I think I might have an allergy to peanuts so I am going to sit down and eat a jar of peanut butter and see what happens."  Intact adult cats, especially toms produce far more allergens than neutered / spayed adults.  Plus it is just a numbers game.  Siberian Forest Cats are hypoallergenic because they produce less of the allergen that causes a reaction but if you get enough of them together the end result is still going to be fairly high..  There is a big difference between visiting a friend with a Siberian Forest Cat or two and going into a cattery where the levels are significantly higher.  


We have what we consider to be a safer option.  We bring a cat or pair of cats to town to meet people so they can see if they react.  We bring adults because adults have higher allergen counts than kittens.  In our minds and in the mind of our insurance agent this just seems so much more logical than having you drive out to the boondocks and seeing if we can send you into anaphalaxis.   Could that really happen?  Probably not but it is just a matter of common sense to assume that any given person could be that reactive.  Anything less would be irresponsible in our minds.  


Then there is our best test.  The one I brag about.  We have an amazing return policy.  I think it is probably the best out there and it is also the best test of how many people are reacting to our kittens.

The Guarantee

I told you that we consider our guarantee to be the best allergy test we could devise.  We feel that the only way to really be sure you won't react to living with a Siberian Forest Cat is to live with one.  So we give a 2 week no questions asked guarantee that starts the day you take your kitten home.


Let me make this clear.  You can return the kitten for any reason.  Why?  Because our kittens matter to us and we want them to be happy in their new home.  If you aren't happy they aren't happy.  Simple enough, huh?  Don't get me wrong I want you to be happy too but this is a mom thing and those kittens are my babies.


So, if we have such a liberal return policy we should have lots of returns from people who are reacting, right?  Nope.  We have had 2 returns to date.  Both people had extreme allergic conditions and may well have been reacting to some other protein in the cat's body chemistry.


Most breeders give a 24 or 48 hour grace period if they give one at all.  The idea is that you need time to take the cat to a vet to see if it is healthy.  They feel their responsibility ends there.  I don't want to call them out and make their lives harder.  I just feel that we have a larger obligation because we are breeding hypoallergenic kittens.

Reducing Your Cat's Allergen Load

So, having done your best to get a hypoallergenic cat that lives up to the name what else can you do?  Good question.  There really is a lot that can be done even if you are one of the unlucky few that reacts to Siberian Forest Cats.


Neutering / Spaying tops my list for a very good reason.  Pretend you are a tom cat looking for love.  There is no kitty version of Match.com so what do you do?  You go out and pee on everything in sight to let the girls know you are in the neighborhood and tough enough to control a large territory.  It is the equivalent of people buying status symbols.  Part of what makes that pungent calling card so enticing is it's unique chemical signature that includes Fel D1.  If you neuter your tom he will not produce as much of it and he will not have the urge to spray everything with it.  It is a double win.  The same is true with queens.  A female cat sprays everything in sight when she is in heat.  You would not believe how much time I spend just compensating for the little love notes my kitties leave one another.  It is just a fact of life as a breeder.  It doesn't have to be a part of your life though.  Neutering is safe, inexpensive and well worth the effort for many reasons.


Beyond neutering comes changing the litter box.  It is basically the same issue.  If you change your cat's litter box daily then you cat will not be stirring up nasty germ and allergen laden dust into the air every time it goes potty.  If you are the allergy sufferer I suggest having another family member do the honors.  If that isn't an option and you are having issues go to the hardware store and buy a pack of disposable dust masks.  They are cheap and reusable.  Change the litter box right before bath time.  That way you wash off any allergens.  Lastly keep the litter box away from your bed and clothes storage areas.  That cuts down on the amount of floating dander that can settle on your pillow. blankets and clothing.


Then there is your cats fur.  I am not just talking about cat dander here.  I am horribly reactive to dust mites.  My cats love to get into those hard to clean places so I wipe them down with a damp washcloth occasionally.  This removes not only Fel D1 deposited during grooming but also dust, pollen and everything else they can pick up in their daily travels.  We also bathe our cats before they leave us.  This is so they do not carry dander from the cattery with them.  You can do the same at home if you feel the need.  Very few people ever do this but we have cats that insist upon getting in the bathtub with our daughter.  It is all a matter of training and if you are allergic enough and really want a cat in your life it might be a sacrifice worth making.  

Empty Your Bucket

Dust mites are a nightmare for me.  My lungs close up, my face and throat swell and I turn beet red.  My stomach cramps up.  There is a word for it.  Anaphylaxis .  I carry an EpiPen and rescue inhaler for asthma.  Fun, fun, fun.  OK maybe not.  Then there is pollen, mold spores, anything with a perfume in it, assorted chemicals and VOCs.  Yes, I am kind of a mess but it is not always so bad.  As a matter of fact if I manage my environment I actually am pretty healthy and even have smaller reactions to my allergic triggers,  


Life is full of choices.  Sooner or later you pay a price.  I've learned that there is a huge price for abusing my body by trying to tough out allergen exposures.. There was a time when I was in and out of the ER multiple times a week and in my case it can be really scary because it messes with my heart and blood pressure.  Either I end up in the stroke / heart attack danger zone or I end up fainting.


Do you remember that bucket story I told you up at the top of the page?  Well it applies to you as well.  There are some things we all react to like the perfumes and chemicals in drier sheets and fabric softener.  Chemicals in body sprays, perfumes, deodorants etc. all soak into your body and poison you. Don't even get me started on cleaning chemicals for your home, pesticides and chemicals fertilizers.   They all make it harder for your body to clear its reaction to allergens because you are in a state of toxic overload. 


Open your windows and let in fresh air.  Get dust mite protection for your bedding.  Watch out for house plants if you react to mold.  Try to stick to unscented and green body and cleaning products. Eat healthy organic foods.  Go out and walk.  Stay away from high carb foods.  Your body will thank you and your allergies will bother you less.

Last Word

In the end though there are some people who should not have furry pets.  I am sorry, it is just a fact.  I loved my late husband dearly and allowed him to talk me into doing things that were messing with my allergies.  In his defense he had no idea he was making me ill but I am just not a woman meant to be in enclosed places.  He loved to travel.  I loved the idea of flying to Europe or taking cruises.  Sadly the idea never matched the reality.  I was always so completely sick and miserable that I could barely cope but I would put on a brave face and try to stick it out for his sake because I loved him so much.  Don't do that to yourself.  


Remember, your allergies are not your fault.  You are not being a big baby, wimp or any of the other things I called myself.  You have rights and needs.  So often out of guilt we will do things that are unwise in retrospect.  Keeping yourself in a constant state of allergic arousal would definitely qualify.  Love your family enough to say no if no is the right answer for you.  We are all better and happier people when we feel good.  Giving your family a happy healthy version of yourself is far more important than giving them a pet.  Love is a two way street and nobody should ask you to make yourself miserable.