All cats produce a protein called Fel D1 in their saliva, which is responsible for the majority of allergic reactions to cats. The Fel D1 protein can get into the air and on the cat’s coat when they groom themselves, making those susceptible have allergic reactions when holding the cat or even when the cat is not around.
Although there are some cat breeds that are more hypoallergenic than others, Norwegian Forest Cats are not any less hypoallergenic than the average house cat. In fact, they might even be more allergenic. If you or any members of your household are generally allergic to cats, a Norwegian might not be right for you.
In general, there are two main ways a cat breed can be less allergenic. The first is if they produce less Fel D1 than normal, causing less of the allergen to get around. This is true for Siberian Forest Cats, which produce less than 1% of the Fel D1 protein than the average cat. The second way is if the cat sheds less hair, also reducing the spread of the protein to the environment. Longhair cats and cats with a thick undercoat (i.e. Norwegian Forest Cats) are particularly high on the shedding scale, and conversely shorthair cats (or hairless cats) are particularly low and tend to be more hypoallergenic.
If you’re still not sure if you might have an allergic reaction to a Norwegian Forest Cat, it might be a good idea to visit a cattery and see how you react to the presence of one before you decide to bring one home.
Reducing Dander and Allergens
Keep in mind there are ways to reduce dander and allergens in your home even if your Norwegian Forest Cat is a high shedder. Here are a few effective ways to reduce the level of allergens in your home:
- Clean all fabric furniture (carpets, couches, curtains, etc) often; the frequency will depend on how much your Norwegian Forest Cat sheds and how allergic you are. Many owners have to clean at least once per week with dander removal products and even more often with a lint roller.
- Keep your space as clean as possible to reduce the number of surfaces the hair and dander can stick to.
- Use an air filter or purifier. This is by far the easiest and most effective way to significantly reduce dander in your home.
- Bathe your Norwegian Forest Cat often. Although your cat might not be a big fan of bath time, using a high quality shampoo product will reduce the amount of dander in their coat. You should never try to go cheap on your cat’s shampoo as it can cause rashes, upset stomach or other issues.