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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 17885
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My son whos 19 has asthma, and i would like to get a persian/exotic

Customer Question

My son whos 19 has asthma, and i would like to get a persian/exotic , but he says its will make him worse could you plesase advice my what should i do i would realy like one but am worried thak you Karen
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 3 years ago.
Hello, my name is Dr. Kara and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
I understand that your son has allergies and asthma and you are considering purchasing a kitten or cat.

People with allergies to cats are actually allergic to the cat's saliva which contains a particular protein (fel D-1) and the dander that the cat produces, not to their fur. There were some companies (for example Allerca) that purported to breed cats with very low levels of the fel D-1 protein in their saliva, and some people that bought that cats did have fewer symptoms, but those that were highly allergic weren't happy as they still had symptoms. These cats are also quite expensive, often several thousand dollars.

Cats that groom more frequently and thus have more saliva on their coat, or produce more dander are more likely to produce allergic symptoms because there are more allergens being shed. It does not matter what type of coat a cat has but all cats have fur. That means that their coat grows to a certain length and stops, eventually being shed. There aren't any breeds of cats with hair, which is continuously growing and needs to be cut. I am mildly allergic to cats myself and there are some cats in the clinic that I have no trouble handling and treating whereas other make me sneeze and my eyes are itchy and run the entire time I am with them. It simply depends upon how much of the allergen an individual cat produces in their saliva and how much dander they produce and how much they groom themselves.

There are no true "hypoallergenic" breeds cats. There are individual cats that do groom less and don't have dry skin and those cats are less likely to produce many symptoms in an allergic person. There isn't any definitive proof that particular breeds produce less of the allergy stimulating proteins in their saliva, but the oriental breeds and cats with lighter colored coats are purported to do so. It is possible picking a kitten from that group may lead to less symptoms for you. In my experience though it seems to come down to the individual cat and certainly whether they big groomers or not will play a part. The only way to know whether the kitten you'd like to purchase is one of those individual is to live with him or her for a while.

It may help to bathe the kitten frequently (weekly) to remove saliva from their coat and remove excess dander and supplement their diet with omega 3 fatty acids so their skin is less likely to be dry and less dander will be shed.

If you choose to try I would discuss a trial period with the breeder so the kitten can go back if your son is miserable with symptoms. You definitely want to use very good HEPA filtered air cleaners and HEPA filters on your furnace. Do not let your kitty in your son's bedroom. That way there is an area of you home that is relatively allergen free and he will have at least 8 hours or so not being exposed to allergens.

But there is no guarantee that you won't be allergic to this kitten no matter what you do. I know this likely isn't what you want to hear, but I want you to have accurate information before you fall in love and purchase a kitten that you may not be able to keep.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

but would a exotic short hair persian be any better than a persian , these are the 2 i like thanks

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 3 years ago.
In general the exotic breeds (thus the exotic short hair) are supposed to be less allergenic then the other breeds, and the lighter colored cats are supposed to be less allergenic then those with dark pigmented coats.
But no cat is truly hypoallergenic, so I caution you that any cat may be too much for your son's allergies/asthma.
There are ways to lessen allergens in the environment as I listed above (bathing, omega 3 fatty acids, keeping the cat out of his room and HEPA filters) but I would only take the kitty if the breeder agrees to a trial basis, as I would be very concerned that you son is going to react to any cat.