For many cat lovers having a strikingly beautiful Bengal cat feels like keeping a wild cat at home. With its distinct wild markings and playful demeanor, this cat breed is an absolute delight.
There are some of us that love cats but have a cat allergy that stands in our way of owning one.
Having an allergic reaction flare-up can be very inconvenient and even life-threatening for some.
While no cat breed is completely hypoallergenic, some are known to produce fewer allergens, making them a better choice for individuals with sensitivities.
But is it possible to have a Bengal cat despite having cat allergies?
A Bengal can be a good cat for someone with cat allergies. It still produces the allergen Fel d1 but is lesser in quantity. And being a short-haired cat, it does shed much lesser hair compared to a long-haired cat. This can make having a Bengal more bearable for the nose.
In this article, you will learn about what causes allergies, how they are triggered and whether Bengal cats are hypoallergenic.
Why Do Some People Suffer From Cat Allergies?
Truth be told, many people who are allergic to cats don’t really understand why and what is causing the allergic reaction.
Many believe that it is cat fur that is causing the allergic reaction but it is not. The culprit is actually a protein called ‘Fel d1’.
This protein can be found in cat saliva and oil glands in its skin.
When the clean licks or grooms itself, the allergen is transferred from the salvia to the fur. And as the cat sheds, lots of cat fur are left all around the house.
If you are allergic to cats, your body’s immune system will start acting up in the presence of this protein in the air.
The end result is you having flu-like symptoms as the immune system strives to remove this protein.
Where Do Bengal Cats Originate From?
Bengals are a crossbreed which means that the Bengal was born when two cats of different breeds mated and had kittens.
To be more exact, the Bengal is the product kitten of an Asian leopard cat and a regular domestic cat, mainly the spotted Egyptian Mau.
However, this breed didn’t really get on the radar until a lady named Jean Mill from California started breeding Bengal cats in earnest.
Her goal was to create a cat breed that looks as exotic as the Asian leopard cat combined with the domestication docility of a domestic cat.
Bengals are now a very highly sought after breed due to the way they look which makes them very expensive as well.
Is There Such A Thing As A Hypoallergenic Cat?
There’s an ongoing debate about whether a truly hypoallergenic cat exists.
All cats produce some amount of dander and saliva which are the primary causes of cat allergies.
There are some breeds are known to produce fewer allergens than others, making them a better choice for allergy sufferers.
But it’s important to note that individual reactions to cats can vary widely and a cat considered hypoallergenic may still trigger allergic reactions in certain individuals.
Are Bengals Really Hypoallergenic?
However, do note that just because there are traits that make Bengal cats hypoallergenic doesn’t mean they can’t trigger your cat allergies.
It just means that the chances of you getting an allergic reaction with a Bengal are a lot lesser than if you were near a non-hypoallergenic cat.
Hypoallergenic means ‘low allergy’ not ‘no allergy’.
So if your cat allergy is a matter of life and death, you’re out of luck.
There are two distinct reasons that make Bengal cats hypoallergenic.
Bengals Don’t Groom As Much As Other Cats
This doesn’t mean that Bengal cats are dirty or not as hygienic as other cat breeds.
The coat of a Bengal cat is termed as pelted. If you ever touched a rabbit before, it is how a Bengal feels like too. The fur is short and soft.
With such a coat type, it tends to attract and hold on to less dust and dirt thus requiring less grooming.
An average cat can spend large parts of the day grooming itself and leaving tons of Fel d1 protein on its fur.
Less grooming means less licking of the fur resulting in less dander in the air.
They Shed Less
Some cat breeds are considered hypoallergenic they produce less of the Fel d1 protein and the Bengal is one of them.
A few studies have shown that the Bengal cat breed secretes lesser of the Fel d1 protein as compared to other cat breeds.
This makes them a good candidate for people with cat allergies.
Bengal cats are also single coated.
Less shedding and grooming means that Bengal cats will shed less fur thus keeping dander in the air to a minimum.
With fewer allergens in the air, having a Bengal cat can definitely prevent your allergic reaction from happening too often.
Even though Bengal cats produce dander, it’s useful to know how to keep dander to a minimum at home.
How Can I Keep My Cat Allergies From Flaring Up?
There are some ways that can help further minimize your allergies from happening even with hypoallergenic cat breeds like the Bengal.
No Cats In The Bedroom
I know it must be a really nice and cosy feeling to have your cat snuggle next to you in bed. But by doing you, you are setting yourself up for an allergic reaction.
We are looking at almost 6-8 hours of breathing in cat dander throughout the night.
It’s best to have your cat sleep in a separate room in the house.
The vacuum cleaner is your best friend if you have a cat allergy and a cat at home. It might mean more work but make it a point to vacuum your place a few times a week.
Use handheld vacuum cleaners for furniture surfaces where your cat usually sleeps on.
It is also a good measure to use an air filter mask when vacuuming.
If you don’t have the time, consider getting those automated vacuum robots that can run on a schedule.
Don’t Kiss Your Cat (too much)
This one can be really difficult if you are someone that enjoys being affectionate with your cat.
Even for someone with cat allergies, not a day goes by where I don’t kiss my cat at least a gazillion times.
Try not to make any mouth or nose contact on areas that your cat grooms the most like its paws, belly or paws.
I usually kiss the top of my cat’s head where they can’t reach (plus it smells like freshly baked bread).
Feed Your Bengal Cat A Good Diet
What your cat eats is very important for its overall health.
A cat on a poor diet usually has bad skin and fur which can result in more shedding.
A bad diet can also lead to health issues that can also cause abnormal shedding.
Dry food or kibbles aren’t the best type of diet for any cat.
It lacks the proper nutrients and you are compromising your cat’s health.
A good diet would at least be good quality canned food or a raw diet which is the most natural diet for cats.
Cats are obligate carnivores which means that need mostly protein in their diet. Raw meat and organs contain the best protein source for cats.
You can also add an Omega 3 supplement for pets to further strengthen the coat.
Use A HEPA Air Filtration System
HEPA air filters are great gadgets to have in your home to help reduce the amount of dander in the air.
Make sure the one that you are getting is capable of trapping dander in the filter or it won’t help much.
Remember to also wash or change the filters regularly to maintain maximum effectiveness.
The inevitable is going to happen at times with you getting the occasional allergic reaction despite your best efforts.
Have a consult with your doctor and he will be able to prescribe you some antihistamines that will come in handy for symptom relief.
Are Bengal Cats Expensive?
A Bengal cat is considered to be a rare and exotic cat due to its unique leopard-like coat pattern. They are one of the most expensive cat breeds in the world.
A typical Bengal can cost about USD600-USD3000. The more unique the coat pattern, the more expensive the cat.
So if you do plan on getting a Bengal as a pet, be prepared to pay for one.
What Is The Best Cat For Someone With Allergies?
It can be hard to tell which is the best cat for someone with allergies as it also depends on the severity of the allergic reactions.
The best thing one can do is to spend some time with hypoallergenic cats to see if it causes a reaction and how bad is the reaction.
There are a number of hypoallergenic cats that you can consider:
- Siberian cat
- Balinese cat
- Devon Rex
- Cornish Rex
One more important thing to note before getting a cat that’s hypoallergenic is the level of maintenance that it requires.
Some of these cats require a fair bit of attention and playtime like the Bengal and Balinese.
There’s no point getting a cat that is friendly towards your nose but you can’t give it the attention that it deserves.
Having a Bengal as a pet is a lot of fun and there are unique traits that make Bengal cats hypoallergenic.
However, if you are allergic to cats, you will need to consider long and hard even if you plan to get a hypoallergenic cat.
As mentioned above, all cats shed and carry the ‘Fel d1’ protein. This means that the chances of your cat allergy flaring up is always a possibility.
There’s also a chance that your allergic reaction will get worse due to the constant exposure to dander.
It would be very traumatic for your cat if you have to give it up or rehome it because your allergy has gotten too serious.