- Are Maine Coon Cats Allergen Free?
- Why are Maine Coon Cats not Allergen-Free?
- Why do Maine Coon Cats Shed?
- Maine Coon Cat Allergy Symptoms
- Maine Coon Cat Allergy Treatments
- How to minimise Maine Coon Cat Allergies
- How To Treat Maine Coon Cat Allergies
- Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Maine Coon Cat Allergies
- What Cat Breeds are Allergen Free or ‘Hypoallergenic?’
- Are Black Cats Hypoallergenic?
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Are Maine Coon Cats Allergen Free?
If you are currently in the stages of looking for a Maine Coon, then one question you are most likely asking yourself is, “Are Maine Coon cats allergen-free? ” Let’s dive straight in.
Firstly, I want you to know that the term “Hypoallergenic” is a marketing term.
It is a term used by the pet industry to market certain breeds of pets to those who are maybe more prone to allergy. The term carries value, but not much meaning because truly, no pet is hypoallergenic/allergy-free.
Yes, there are some breeds of cats that do not shed as much, and therefore might be better suited for those with allergies, but every cat carries allergens, some more than others.
Why are Maine Coon Cats not Allergen-Free?
It is no surprise that Maine Coon cats have a lot of fur, more so than most domestic cat breeds. For this reason, people with allergies might be reluctant to bring a Maine Coon into their home. (However, there are solutions, so please do not be completely put off).
What Causes Maine Coon Cat Allergies?
Allergens are found within the skin cells that Maine Coons shed; this includes their fur, saliva, urine and sweat. When Maine Coons shed, the dander soon becomes airborne, which means it remains in the air for long periods of time due to air circulation.
Dander can stick to upholstery and clothes, while pet saliva can stick to carpets, bedding, blankets, furniture, and clothing. Dried saliva can also circulate through the air.
So to put it simply, if you are asking yourself,
Are Maine Coon Cats Allergen Free?
then the answer is no. However, no cat is, so please read on for more advice, solutions and treatments if you absolutely have your heart set on a beloved Maine Coon cat.
What is Fel D1?
Feel d 1 is a complex protein found in cats that are produced in their saliva and sebaceous glands located in their skin. This is the same protein that causes sensitive reactions in humans, and why many people are allergic to cats.
Female cats have a lower amount of Fel d1 than unneutered males, and neutered males produce lower levels than that of female cats. There are also some breeds that carry less Fel d 1 protein, typically long-haired cats. Breeds include the Balinese Cat, Cornish Rex, Devonshire Rex, Sphynx, Russian Blue, and Siberian cats.
A recent study by the National Library of Medicine found that cats brought into a child’s life from early on brought about positive effects that protected them against allergic diseases such as asthma.
Why do Maine Coon Cats Shed?
Maine Coon cats go through shedding cycles, and some shed more than others. You might be lucky enough to own or bring home a Maine Coon that doesn’t shed much.
But why do Maine Coon cats shed? Maine Coon cats have long, thick fur that serves the purpose of helping them stay warm during the cold winter months. They have a double undercoat and even grow extra fur in between their paws for the purpose of keeping their toe beans warm when walking in the snow.
Remember, the Maine Coon cat originated from Maine in the US, where it endures cold snowy winters. You can read more about the history of the Maine Coon cat in my previous blog.
Maine Coon Shedding Cycles
Maine Coon cats tend to shed more during the Spring and Summer months. They do this to get rid of dead, unwanted hair so they can prepare for the winter months. There are also other factors to consider that affect the Maine Coon shedding cycles including fur type, genetics, health condition, diet, and environment.
Each of these factors that affect the Maine Coon shedding rate, can be effectively managed with a few practical tips.
Maine Coon Cat Allergy Symptoms
When Maine Coon cat owners come into contact with an allergen, their bodies produce an antibody known as Immunoglobulin E (IgE). They are knowns for their role in mediating allergic reactions. This reaction causes various symptoms.
You may be wondering what sort of symptoms are common among those who are allergic to Maine Coon cats, or cats in general. Below are common symptoms reported among people who are allergic to cats:
Common Cat Allergy Symptoms
- Sneezing and/or a runny nose
- Itchy eyes that may appear watery, red and/or swollen
- Nasal Congestion
- Facial pressure and/or pain
- Upward rubbing of the nose (common in children)
Asthma Symptoms from Cat Allergies
If you are also an asthma sufferer like myself, then additional symptoms you may experience include:
- Breathing difficulty
- Chest tightness
- Chest pain
- Wheezing sound when you breath
- Shortness of breath when trying to sleep
Skin Symptoms from Cat Allergies
A skin condition called ‘allergic Dermatitis’ is also commonly experienced amongst those who have cat allergies. Such symptoms include:
- Itchy Skin
Some people may already have existing medical conditions such as asthma or allergic dermatitis therefore determining whether the onset of symptoms has come from that, or your Maine Coon cat can be a challenge. It is best to seek medical advice if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms.
Maine Coon Cat Allergy Treatments
If you believe you suffer from cat allergies, there are some options for going the route of diagnosis. I will cover some of the common treatments however speaking with your doctor is the best way forward in finding treatment as they may interfere with the medicine.
There are two common allergy tests available; these are a skin prick test and an intradermal skin test.
Skin Prick Test for Cat Allergies
Your doctor will use a skin prick test to prick the surface of your skin which then deposits a small amount of the allergen. If the area pricked becomes red or swollen, then you have an allergy to the substance. If you have a positive reaction to a cat allergy, expect a red, itchy, swollen bump.
Intradermal Skin Testing for Maine Coon Cat Allergies
This refers to allergens being injected under the skin of the forearm or arm. If you have a positive reaction, your skin will inflame, turn red and may be itchy. This form of testing is more sensitive and is normally carried out in your doctor’s office.
Blood Testing for Maine Coon Cat Allergies
Another alternative to skin testing is blood testing. A little more invasive, but an option for those who are sensitive to skin testing. Your doctor will draw blood, and the result examined at a laboratory to confirm if you do have any allergies to Maine Coon cats.
How to minimise Maine Coon Cat Allergies
There are several steps you can take to minimise the risks of developing symptoms associated with cat allergies. Some you may already be implementing, but it is always good to explore all options as there may be some you were not aware of.
Brushing Your Maine Coon Regularly
Brushing your Maine Coon daily is not only good for keeping their luscious coat in good condition and preventing matted fur, but it also controls shedding.
By brushing your Maine Coon, you are removing the dead hair, making way for their new coat to come through. It’s better to brush away the dead hair than to see it all over your house, on upholstery and clothes.
Using a soft-bristled or a wire slicker brush is ideal as harder bristles can stretch their skin, irritating your cat. They will then be more prone to associating your daily brushing regime with discomfort.
Bathe Your Maine Coon Cat
Maine Coons do tend to like water a lot more than other cat breeds. This can make it much easier when it comes to bathing your Maine Coon especially to control the amount they shed and thus control or prevent allergies.
You should not bathe your Maine Coon more than once a month. Cats have expertise in cleaning themselves, they do it on a regular basis, so there is no need to over bathe them. This will result in them being unable to regulate their body temperature.
Always use a shampoo that is formulated for cats and doesn’t get it in their eyes or ears. It is best to soak them in shallow water and keep talking to them to reassure them during the process; just in case you have a Maine Coon like mine who doesn’t like bath time!
Feed Your Maine Coon a Nutritious Diet
I believe it is important to remember that cats are obligate carnivores. This means they do not require the high amount of carbohydrates often found in commercial cat food.
What they require is a nutritious diet that is high in proteins, moderate amounts of fats, and low in carbohydrates. Their diet should also provide the essential vitamins, minerals, fatty and amino acids.
If you provide your Maine Coon with a healthy balanced diet, they will not shed any more than is necessary, allowing you to bring up your Maine Coon in an allergy-controlled environment.
Provide Your Cat with Fresh Drinking Water Daily
A dehydrated cat will result in dehydrated skin and exasperate any current shedding that is going on. Supplying your Maine Coon cat with fresh drinking water every day ensures this is avoided. Certain foods, such as dry kibble can cause dehydration because they contain only 5-10% moisture.
Parasite Prevention for Your Maine Coon
If you notice your Maine Coon itching or scratching themselves a lot, it might be worth investigating further in case they have any parasites present on their fur.
Parasites such as fleas and ticks can really impact your Maine Coon’s life and not in a good way. It is important to keep these pesky parasites at bay.
A trip to your vet for effective flea and tick control advice is always worthwhile. It will also ensure they shed no more than is required during their shedding cycles, and again help you manage or prevent allergens in your home.
General Health Management of Your Maine Coon Cat
It is important to ensure you keep up with regular vet check-ups. This is especially important if you feel your Maine Coon may shed more excessively than it should be.
It might be nothing to worry about, but your vet is best placed to advise so that you can rule out any underlying health conditions that may affect the health of your Maine Coon.
Some health conditions that might result in excess shedding of your Maine Coon include:
- Parasites- Ticks, Fleas.
- Ringworm – A fungal infection of the superficial layers of skin, hair and nails of your Maine Coon.
- Allergies- Environmental, Fleas, Food and Seasonal.
- Hyperthyroidism- Overproduction of the thyroid gland can cause weight loss.
- Stress and Anxiety- This can result in overgrooming, and excess shedding if they are stressed.
How To Treat Maine Coon Cat Allergies
Sometimes we do the best we can to avoid cat allergies, but unfortunately, it’s not enough. In that case, there are treatment options available. Again, it is advisable to speak with your doctor or visit a pharmacist for the best advice on treatments available.
Some of the common allergy treatments are listed below:
Antihistamines: Use to relieve symptoms of allergies including cat allergies. They serve their purpose by reducing the production of the chemical found in the immune system that is active when faced with an allergic reaction.
Nasal Sprays: They can reduce inflammation and control symptoms that arise due to cat allergies.
Decongestants: They work by shrinking any swollen tissue in your nasal passage, that has inflamed because of cat allergies. Decongestants make it easier for you to breathe. They come in the form of both sprays and tablets.
Leukotriene Modifiers: Block the action of certain immune responses caused by cat allergies. This may be in the form of a tablet or nasal spray.
Immunotherapy: A series of allergy shots is delivered over a period of 6 months. This is to “train” your immune system not to be as sensitive to cat allergies.
Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Maine Coon Cat Allergies
Along with tips on how you can prevent excess shedding in your Maine Coon cat, and treatment options available, there is also some home remedies you can implement. Regardless of allergy or not, we love Maine Coon cats because of their charm, gentle nature, intelligence, and good looks.
Doing all you can around the house to ensure a clean and tidy environment, can work wonders for any allergy-induced symptoms from your Maine Coon cat.
Below is a list of steps that help lower the allergen levels of your Maine Coon cat:
Clean from top to bottom: Cleaning all surfaces including any bedding, rugs, and other fabrics.
Ensure your space is clutter-free: This will make it more manageable when it comes to cleaning.
Wear a face mask: This is particularly handy when vacuuming or even cleaning up the litter. Vacuuming brews a storm of allergens that have settled into your carpet.
HEPA Filter: This can clean the air and remove any cat allergens floating around. By using an air filter for around 5 hours per day, you can make a big difference in controlling the number of allergens floating around.
Separate sleeping space: I know this is a difficult one for many Maine Coon owners. Teaching your Maine Coon to understand that the bedroom is a separate space, allows you to have better sleep, free from allergens and an uninterrupted one.
No cat grooming for you: Maine Coon cats love to groom their owners, but if you are an allergy sufferer, then this is best avoided.
What Cat Breeds are Allergen Free or ‘Hypoallergenic?’
So we know why Maine Coon cats are not allergen-free and what causes this, and that in fact, no one cat is completely allergen-free. So when you are doing your research, please bear in mind the term “hypoallergenic” as it is a made-up marketing term to market pets to the likes of you and me.
However, as I touched on earlier, there are certain breeds that produce less of the Fd1 protein that is secreted by their skin and saliva. For that reason, there may be some breeds that are more suited to your personal circumstances.
Below is a list of the top breeds (in alphabetical order) that are “hypoallergenic” as such:
The Balinese possess a long-haired coat that requires minimal maintenance due to carrying less of the Fd1 protein. They are very intelligent cats and make excellent family pets.
They are very vocal and like to talk away to their owners. They don’t like to be left on their own for long periods of time.
Cornish Rex Cat
This beautiful cat has no hair except for the bottom undercoat. Unlike the Sphynx cat with no fur at all, the Cornish Rex is still soft to touch, yet possesses less amount of the Fd1 protein.
This breed got its name from it similar appearance to that of a rex rabbit, if anyone is familiar with them. This breed is another great option for allergy sufferers.
Devon Rex Cat
The Devon Rex is quite a rare breed. On top of this, it shares the exact same coat type as the Cornish Rex; the undercoat only. You get the softness of touch, a minimal amount of Fd1 protein, and a rare cat breed.
They are very social cats, adore their owners and love making new friends. A perfect option.
Oriental Shorthair Cat
Another friendly, intelligent, attractive, and inquisitive breed, the Oriental Shorthair shed very little. They possess a very fine, short coat that still requires grooming, but carries less Fd1 protein than their furrier counterparts.
Russian Blue Cat
Russian Blue cats possess a short coat, a double coat that makes them a suitable option for allergy sufferers. The Russian Blue does not shed much and produces lower levels of Fd1 also. The Russian Blue has a very sweet temperament and loves to be by her owner’s side all the time.
This is maybe not a surprise. The sphynx cat is hairless which gives its unique look. The Sphynx cat is very elegant and talkative. It does require a calm environment, and so is not suitable for large family homes with young children.
If you are severe allergies, then a sphynx cat might be a great option. Due to the absence of fur, the protein cannot get trapped.
Are Black Cats Hypoallergenic?
You might have heard of the rumour that a black cat crosses your path, then to expect an allergy to soon follow. Well, in a sense this is true, but only because as I mentioned earlier, no cat is “hypoallergenic” and in fact, they all carry the allergy-inducing hormone Fd1.
The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that there is no correlation between Fd1 levels and cat colour.
And so, black cats are not always a sign of bad luck! In fact, I think the opposite.
If you would like further information on the Maine Coon cat breed, please read my guide which covers all aspects of their history, characteristics, traits, nutrition and health.
I hope this blog has provided with you the right amount of information you need to learn about the facts from fiction when it comes to Maine Coon cats and allergies.
There is no cat that is completely allergen-free, and so it is about balancing your circumstances, with how much upkeep you can manage around your home to ensure that any chances of developing allergy symptoms are kept at bay.
The Maine Coon cat is a beautiful breed, that will bring much joy to the life of you and your family, and I hope that with a number of proactive measures, you can benefit from having one in your life.