Maine Coons are large cats with long and fluffy hair. Some people think that it can cause allergies, while others think that Maines are hypoallergenic.
To understand whether it is possible to have a Maine Coon kitten, and what to do if the pet is already a member of the family, we will find out the truth and myths about the allergenicity of this breed.
Myths and truths about Hypoallergenic
According to statistics, 15% of cat owners are allergic. This situation is exploited by enterprising breeders. From time to time they declare a cat breed to be hypoallergenic.
Their main goal is to make a profit. After all, any cat lover with allergies is ready to pay more for a cat that will not cause it a negative reaction.
The main allergen is pet hair and fluff, so “bald” breeds are declared safe. Also, cats with dense and short coats are sometimes referred to as hypoallergenic breeds. This category also includes cats that shed little or have no undercoat.
Important! There are no “hypoallergenic” cat breeds . Moreover, breeders are unlikely to have the opportunity to breed such a breed.
Maine Coons are not included in the rating of hypoallergenic breeds. They have a fluffy and long coat that needs to be brushed out regularly. It poses a real danger to people with allergies.
The coat and down of the Maine Coon’s undercoat by themselves do not cause a reaction. The immune system of an allergic person reacts to a specific protein FelD1. It is found in all secretions of the cat’s body:
- urine, feces;
- secrets of sweat and sebaceous glands;
- vaginal discharge from a cat;
- dandruff – dead skin particles.
The cat spreads FelD1 over the entire surface of its body as it licks. In this case, wool is both a “transport” (the allergen spreads through it) and a “reservoir” (accumulates it).
Important! Maine Coon allergies are not uncommon.
Both hairless and short-haired cats can be allergenic because they also regularly “wash” with their tongue. The protein that provokes allergies can persist in the air for a long time, settle on the upholstery of furniture, curtains, and carpets. The cat litter box is also a hazardous area.
Interesting! Felinologists and researchers are not abandoning their attempts to develop a cat breed with a blocked mechanism for the production of the FelD1 protein. Currently under development are foods containing substances that bind protein in the cat’s body.
Allegations of the existence of hypoallergenic cat breeds are a marketing ploy. However, some individuals produce reduced amounts of the allergen.
How to recognize the first signs of allergies
Symptoms of an allergic reaction to Maine Coon are quite specific. They are similar to the manifestations of a cold, bronchitis, or any kind of skin disease.
When the FelD1 protein enters the body, the following symptoms may appear:
- runny nose: swelling of the mucous membrane of the nasal passages, profuse mucus, difficulty in nasal breathing;
- sore throat, cough, shortness of breath;
- asthmatic attack.
When an allergen enters the body through scratches and bites, the following symptoms occur:
- irritation and redness of the mucous membranes of the eyes, tearing, swelling of the eyelids;
- itchy skin rash – urticaria;
- redness and swelling of the skin around the scratch;
- anaphylactic shock.
Anaphylactic shock is an extremely dangerous condition. It develops “hurricane” – in a matter of seconds suffocation occurs, then – loss of consciousness.
This is possible only upon repeated contact with the causative agent of the allergy. If once there has already been a reaction to the Maine Coon, then henceforth a person should avoid cats of this breed.
Give or leave a pet
Often a person learns about their allergies when a cat appears in the house. You can agree with the breeder about the return in the event of force majeure. That is why there is a purchase and sale agreement: the buyer will be refunded the money, and the cat will be found a new owner.
It happens that an allergy makes itself felt after a long time. The cat grows up, becomes a universal favorite and pride of the family. And then a family member develops an allergy.
Most often, the problem is solved radically – the question arises of how to get rid of the pet. A thoroughbred cat, especially one like the Maine Coon, has a good chance of getting into good hands. The breakup will be difficult for the household, but it can be survived.
There is another solution to this problem. It is acceptable if the allergy symptoms are not too severe.
First, you need to make sure that the Maine coon is the cause of the allergy. Perhaps the undesirable reaction was caused by a new washing powder or shampoo, cosmetics. Food allergies or reactions to house dust are possible. There are many reasons – it is better to exclude them one by one in time.
If, after thoroughly cleaning the house and checking for all potential allergens, the alarming symptoms persist, you should consult an allergist. A specialist will perform an irritant test to identify a risk factor for allergies.
If Maine Coon is the cause, there is a solution to the problem: you can take antihistamines. Over time, the allergy may weaken up to its complete disappearance.
Prevention and minimization of risks
Love for animals and the desire to acquire a pet are so strong that a person is ready to neglect the possible unpleasant consequences. But in order to minimize the risks of allergy to long-haired Maine Coons, it is worth following some useful rules:
- It is best to not buy an adult cat, but a kitten. Babies produce minimal amounts of allergenic protein. Therefore, the risk of developing seizures in people with allergies is also low. Subsequently, addiction is possible, and there will simply be no manifestations of the disease.
- You should not take a Maine Coon kitten to your family during the season of exacerbation of allergies (spring and autumn).
- It is believed that Maine Coon cats are more likely to cause allergies than other cats.
- The correct decision in all respects is to neuter the pet. In these cats, the production of FelD1 is greatly reduced.
- The house should be revised and get rid of anything that could be a source of allergies. It is recommended to remove fleecy carpets, fluffy bedspreads, soft toys from the apartment. All surfaces should be easy to clean and abrade. It is better to replace feather and down pillows with modern ones with hypoallergenic filler. All suspicious chemicals should be removed from the home. Check the kitchen and bathroom for black mold.
- Purchase an air purifier and humidifier.
- Frequent ventilation is a reliable measure. But it is important to remember that Maine Coons are afraid of drafts.
- Carry out wet cleaning more often with a thorough wiping of all surfaces.
Important! Maine Coons of light color are less dangerous for those who are allergic to cats.
People with allergies should follow these guidelines:
- At first, limit the time of communication with the Maine Coon baby. If there are no alarming symptoms, you can gradually increase the duration of the “date”.
- It is strictly forbidden to kiss and bring the pet close to the face.
- Be sure to wash your hands and rinse your face after contact with a kitten.
- Do not let the Maine Coon sleep on the bed, lie on clothes.
- Daily shower and hair washing relieves the condition and prevents the development of allergies.
It is better to entrust the care of the Maine Coon to those family members who are not susceptible to the disease:
- It is necessary to carefully monitor the health of the pet: some feline diseases provoke an increased production of an allergen protein.
- Use high-quality litter for the litter box, clean the toilet daily. The Maine Coon has shaggy paws – after visiting the tray, you need to wipe them with a soft damp cloth.
- The cat will have to be combed out almost every day. Wash – every 2 weeks. Daily wiping of Maine Coon hair with wet clean wipes will help.
- Wash and clean the cat bed and toys as often as possible.
There is no reason to consider the Maine Coon breed particularly allergenic. They are no more dangerous than the sphinxes or the British. Any of the cat breeds can cause allergies or be safe.
If preventive measures do not help, you will have to part with your pet or use medication methods to “reconcile” the body and the allergen. It is expensive but effective enough. Everyone decides for themself what decision to make. The main thing is that everyone is healthy and happy.