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Best Breeds For Cat Lovers With Allergies

cat cats kitten calico allergies

Cat allergies are no laughing matter

Allergies to cats are no laughing matter; approximately 10% of the U.S. population suffers from pet allergies and cats are at the top of the list. Cat allergies can vary from extreme to mild, depending on the person. If you are one of the people afflicted with cat allergies, but are a cat lover, you do have some options. If your allergies are extreme, you may want to consult your doctor for allergy treatment or look into medically-designed hypoallergenic cats. However, for those who have mild allergies, we’ve compiled a list of cat breeds that are known to be hypoallergenic or that tend to distribute less allergens for a variety of reasons.

Cat allergies are caused by the prevalence of Fel D1, an enzyme in cats’ saliva. When a cat grooms his/herself, they use their tongue and spread Fel D1 all over their fur. This fur is then spread throughout the house. Hypoallergenic cats are cat breeds that either produce less Fel D1 or shed little or not at all. Remember that hypoallergenic does not mean that they are entirely allergen-free; just that they are less likely to set off an allergic person’s allergies.

Our favorite cat breeds for people with allergies are:

1. The Rex Cats: This includes the Devon Rex and the Cornish Rex. Both of these cats have a coat that sets them apart from other cats; they lack guard hairs and are only covered in the fur that lies beneath. Technically, these cats aren’t hypoallergenic, but the lack of guard hairs makes their shedding more tolerable for many people with allergies.

cornish rex colorpoint black white

The Cornish Rex’s short fur doesn’t spread like that of cats with guard hairs

2. The Sphynx Cat: The Sphynx cat is hairless, and therefore shedding is no longer an issue with this breed. Sphynx cats still lick and groom themselves, but without fur to shed, the spread of their allergens is much less.
3. The Russian Blue: The Russian Blue is hypoallergenic for two main reasons. First of all, their double coat helps to keep in allergens rather than spreading them throughout the house. They also produce less Fel d1, the main property that produces cat allergies.
4. The Balinese: The Balinese has long hair and a full coat, but don’t let this deter you. They produce less Fel D1, the main perpetrator of feline allergies.
5. The Bengal: Bengals have short, dense fur that doesn’t shed much. They spread less dander and fur around and have been known to spread less allergens than other cats.
6. The Javanese: The Javanese is one of only a few breeds that lacks an undercoat, making them shed less. Less shedding means less spreading of allergens

siberian forest cat piano grey

The Siberian may seem unlikely to be hypoallergenic due to their long fur, but they produce little Fel D1

7. The Siberian: Siberian cats have a medium-length coat, which would make many allergy-sufferers hesitant to the breed. However, Siberian cats have been known to have less enzyme levels in their saliva, which is a key source for allergens.
8. The Laperm: The Laperm is a curly-haired cat, and many Laperm owners believe that they are hypoallergenic. They have been known to shed less than other breeds, and many people with cat allergies have had little to no reaction to Laperms.
9. The Oriental Shorthair: The Oriental Shorthair breed has such short hair that sheds so little that they’ve been one of the most popular cat breed for allergy sufferers.

All of these breeds have been known to produce less allergens for a variety of reasons, but there are some other factors that influence how allergenic a cat will be. When choosing a cat for your household, taking the following factors into consideration may help someone with mild allergies find a cat that doesn’t make their sinuses explode:

Male cats produce more allergens than females: This is another unsolved mystery, but for whatever reason, female cats produce less allergens. If you have mild cat allergies, you may want to adopt a female cat.
Neutered males produce less allergens than unfixed males: When a male cat is neutered, his hormones change and he produces less allergens. You should always have your animals spayed and neutered regardless, but especially if you have allergies.
Kittens produce less allergens than full-grown cats: You may not be allergic to a kitten, but develop allergies to the same cat once they grow up for this reason. This, among many other reasons, is why adopting an adult cat is a good idea. This way, you will know right off the bat whether or not you are allergic to a particular cat and can avoid having to make the painful decision of what to do with a cat that is causing you terrible allergies.
Dark-colored cats produce more allergens than light-colored cats: For whatever reason, lighter-colored cats produce less allergens. So instead of a black or dark orange cat, lean towards a cat that has white as their base color.

Are you a cat-lover dealing with cat allergies? Let us know how you handle them in the comments!

Cat Breeds 101: The Burmese

burmese sable cats kittens

These Burmese cats demonstrate the traditional sable coloring of the breed

The Burmese originates from Burma, Thailand. The first Burmese was brought to the U.S. in the 30s and has become a favored breed among cat enthusiasts ever since. They are a talkative and social breed that comes in many colors. Oddly enough, the Burmese is one of the only cat breeds with different standards in the U.S. and U.K. Here, we’re going to explore everything that makes this breed so beloved throughout the world.

Where do Burmese come from?

The first appearance of a Burmese-like breed was back in 1871 at a cat show at the Crystal Palace. Two Siamese cats were shown, and both demonstrated a build more similar to that of today’s American Burmese than that of Siamese of the time. British breeders then attempted to develop Burmese, but the program fell apart.

Fast forward to 1930: a female cat named Wong Mau was brought from Burma to the U.S. Wong Mau was bred with a Siamese to produce the first Burmese breed line. Wong Mau then bred with one of her kittens from that first litter to produce dark brown kittens- a distinct strain of Burmese kittens. These kittens were finally different enough than the Siamese so much that they were granted breed recognition by the Cat Fanciers Association. In order to extensively grow the breed, many purebred Burmese were mated with Siamese, leading to the CFA suspending the breed recognition only ten years later.

The American breeders were too stubborn to let the Burmese breed die, and by 1954, the breed was back on the CFA’s map. Across the ocean, British breeders were building their own Burmese breed standard. Still today, the American and British Burmese cats are two separate and distinct bloodlines. The CFA uses the American breed standards in most cases today.

What do Burmese look like?

The biggest difference between the British Burmese and the American Burmese is the shape of their head and body. Their size and coat are quite standard.

British: The British Burmese is slender with a long and lanky body. Their heads are wedge-shaped, topped with large pointy ears. Their muzzles are more tapered, complimented with their large almond-shaped eyes. Their long legs end with oval-shaped paws, and their tails are medium-length and taper towards the end.

American: The American Burmese head is broader and bolder. Their eyes are less almond shaped and more round. As opposed to a tapered muzzle, the American’s muzzle is flat. Their ears are wider and more bulbous. As opposed to long lanky legs, their legs are proportionate and relatively stocky, as is their tail.

Regardless of being American or British, the Burmese breed is always a small/medium breed, weighing 8-10lbs. They should look lightweight and docile, but have a nice hefty weight to them when picked up. Their coats are short and glossy; full yet fine. The color of a Burmese should be uniform and only lighter in the underparts. Green and gold are the breed standard color of eyes for the Burmese.

burmese cats kittens cat

Burmese cats can come in a variety of colors

The original breed color is a rich dark brown, often referred to as sable, brown, or seal. They get their distinct color from the Burmese gene, a gene that causes a reduction in pigment. This gene causes any black to turn brown, and all other colors to pale. This gene is related to albinism and also causes the colorpoint pattern that is often observed. Today, Burmese can be many colors, including brown, chocolate, blue, lilac, cream, red, and tortoiseshell. The Cat Fanciers Association recognizes sable, blue, champagne, and platinum as well.

What do Burmese act like?

Burmese take after their Siamese heritage (link), but only to an extent. They are notorious for being human-oriented, making them great cats for families. They are dog-like and ready to learn to play games like fetch and tag. Like their Siamese relatives, they are very talkative, but have been observed to possess a softer and sweeter voice, unlike their shrill relatives.

The Burmese breed is notoriously needy, and not the best choice for people who aren’t home often. Cats are known to be a self-reliant species, but certain breeds need more attention than others. Burmese are prone to becoming depressed (link) if left alone for extended periods of time. This depression can manifest as starvation, destruction of property, and changes in sleep patterns.

A cat’s behavior has everything to do with their upbringing, regardless of their breed. Many of these traits may be common for Burmese cats, but it is important for any cat to be socialized as a kitten.

What is the health of a Burmese like?

The Burmese breed has an extremely low genetic diversity rating, only second to the Singapura. Because of this lack of genetic diversity, they are prone to a variety of health problems including:

Diabetes mellitus: Type 2 diabetes; manifests as high blood sugar
Hypokalaemia: A recessive gene that causes low levels of serum potassium
Teething issues: Burmese kittens have problems with painful teething that often causes them to scratch at their faces. This does not cause oral problems; only cosmetic issues from scarring from the scratches.
Feline hyperaesthesia syndrome: This causes increased sensitivity to touch and can make small gestures feel very painful to the cat
Glaucoma: An eye condition that can result in blindness
Calcium oxalate urolithiasis: Painful bladder stones
Agenesis of the nares: Incomplete development of the nostrils

With any cat, there is no guarantee that they will or will not have these problems. Many health problems can be tested for, which is why it is a good idea with any breed to have a relationship with your veterinarian and report any changes in behavior.

If you are interested in bringing a Burmese into your family, there are a few ways to go about adopting one. It is certainly possible to keep an eye out at your local shelter for a Burmese, but you’ll more likely come across one at a dedicated Burmese rescue. These rescues often rehome Burmese who’s owners have unexpectedly passed away or can no longer care for their pets. Burmese rescues go out of their way to find Burmese cats and kittens and work to find great homes for cats of all ages.

If you do decide to purchase from a breeder, you are looking to spend $400-700 for a Burmese kitten. If you are going to purchase from a breeder, make sure that they practice responsible breeding and are open and honest throughout the process. Bringing a Burmese into your home will bring your household great entertainment and a new furry friend for years to come.

How To Help Feral Cats

Feral cats roam the streets their whole life

Feral cats roam the streets their whole life

Feral cats are a huge issue throughout the world. Most people know a few feral cats in their neighborhood, and some areas are infested with ferals. Feral cats are cats that grew up on the street and live their lives in the great outdoors. They provide problems for a variety of communities, including people, birds, and other cats. Luckily, there are many ways that people can help with the feral population in a humane and loving way. Here, we’re going to tell you everything there is to know about feral cats and how you can help.

Are feral cats different than strays?

In a short answer, yes. Feral cats are cats that have lived their whole lives outside or in the wild. Stray cats are cats that were living in a home at one time or another but were lost or abandoned. Stray cats and feral cats behave very differently due to their previous experiences of exposure with humans. A stray cat may come up to you and beg for food, while a feral cat would wait in the background until you left the area. Feral cats rarely make any noise, where a stray cat has learned to meow around humans. Stray cats openly depend on humans while feral cats barely acknowledge them.

How do feral cats live without humans?

The life of a feral cat is not an easy one. For starters, they have no medical care and are therefore extremely susceptible to disease, infection, and parasites. Feral cats also have to deal with inclement weather; from rain, to snowstorms, to overwhelming heat waves. They are at risk of animal abuse simply from being outside, and have to avoid animal poison and traps. Finding food is a constant task, and fighting over territory with other cats is always a threat. For all of these reasons, the average lifespan of a feral cat is less than two years. This isn’t including the fact that approximately half of feral kittens born die in the first week.

Did you know: October 15th is National Feral Cat Day

 

What are some ways to help with feral cats?

There two main ways that a person can help the feral cat population. Both are aimed at keeping the feral population down in a humane way, as well as relieving communities from the harmful effects of untouched feral colonies. Feral cats that haven’t been spayed/neutered are more likely to spray, fight, and of course, remain on the streets for the rest of their lives. The ways that you can help keep the feral cat population down, and increase the quality of life of the feral cats in your community:

Participate in trap-neuter-release: Trap-neuter-release, or TNR, is the single most effective way of humanely keeping down the population of feral cats. In TNR, participants will set out humane traps to catch the feral cats to later pick up and bring to the veterinarian. The veterinarian will then spay/neuter the cat and likely vaccinate them against rabies. Then, the cat will be released back in the area that they were trapped from. This way, the cat can no longer produce more feral kittens, or transmit rabies to another animal. This is the most cost-effective, humane, and efficient way to keep the feral cat population down. Many veterinarians and animal hospitals provide free spay/neuter services for feral cats, or at a discounted rate.

Become a colony caretaker: Colony caretakers will take it upon themselves to TNR a particular colony in the neighborhood, as well as a few other responsibilities. If a cat needs surgery, the colony caretaker will trap and drive the cat to the appointment, and then offer their home for aftercare. They may also step in and foster feral kittens so that they can be housecats and help to adopt them out. If you are interested in becoming a colony caretaker, Alley Cat Allies has a great guide for the whole process.

Feral cat colonies like this one can pop up anywhere

Feral cat colonies like this one can pop up anywhere

Is relocation an option?

It may sound simple: “Why don’t we just move the feral cats somewhere else?” Well, unfortunately, cats are very territorial creatures and will simply make it their goal to return to the same area that they’ve been hanging out in all along; Not to mention the fact that it would be difficult to transport and then find an area for the entire colony of cats to live in.

Can I bring a feral cat to the shelter for adoption?

Unfortunately, feral cats are often past the point of being adoptable. If a cat is truly feral, their behavior around humans is not desirable for almost any cat owner. They don’t know how to interact with humans and won’t learn any time soon. However, if the cat living in your back yard seems friendly and eager to come inside, they are likely a stray cat, not a feral cat, and might be a great candidate for adoption.

Can I adopt a feral cat?

Again, feral cats are not the same as housecats. A feral cat and a housecat are great examples of the nature vs. nurture argument. Although both cats are cut from the same cloth, their upbringing severely changes the way that they interact with humans. Even if you had two kittens from the same litter, one left to the wild and one brought into the home, they would grow up to act completely different. Early socialization is the best way for a cat to learn to behave with humans. Bringing a feral cat into your home is a danger for your entire household, since feral cats may have any number of diseases, infections, and parasites, and may behave violently towards humans.

Can I adopt feral kittens?

Feral kittens can become housecats if they're exposed to humans early enough

Feral kittens can become housecats if they’re exposed to humans early enough

Yes! As long as the kittens are at least four weeks old, the minimum age required for kittens to nurse from their mothers, they can be safely brought into the home. Make sure to take the kittens to the veterinarian for their shots and spay/neuter procedures, and socialize them as much as possible. Kittens generally shouldn’t be up for adoption until they are at least 8 weeks old; at that point, you can adopt them out yourself, submit them to a no-kill shelter, or decide to keep them yourself. If feral kittens are brought into a home early enough, they can end up just like any other happy human-friendly kitty.

What should I do if I find a cat on the street?

If you find a cat on the street and they come up to you, they are likely a stray cat, not a feral cat. You can proceed by contacting your neighbors, bringing the cat to a veterinary clinic to be scanned for a microchip, and contacting all local shelters to add the cat to their lost-and-found bulletin. You can also see what resources for lost cats are online for your area. Fostering the cat and helping by posting “found” ads yourself will probably end better than a shelter, since most shelters are kill shelters and will only hold onto strays for a few days before euthanizing them.

How do I trap a cat?

Trapping a feral cat for TNR may be saving its life

Trapping a feral cat for TNR may be saving its life

You’ll need to purchase a humane cat-sized trap, for starters. You can find these at most hardware stores or online for less than $50 each. Remember that you can use this trap more than once, so it is a worthy investment, especially if you live near a colony. Resist the urge to feed the cats for two days before trapping so that they’ll be extra hungry and will risk entering the trap for a treat. Place wet cat food in the trap behind the trip plate, and wait for the cat to be caught. Then, you can take the trapped cat to your veterinarian as soon as they’re securely in the cage. The veterinarian will do the procedure, and then likely ear-tip them. Ear tipping is a way to tick the cat’s ear so that humans will know that they are TNR’d.

By participating in TNR, you are helping keep the feral cat population down, as well as helping the feral cats in your area have a greater quality of life. Feral cats didn’t choose the street life, the street life chose them, so you can think of them as your housecat’s weird cousin. Happy TNRing!

Do you have a feral cat colony in your area? Let us know in the comments!

11 Everyday Ways To Elongate Your Cat’s Life

Happy CatWe all want the same thing for our pets; to have a happy and comfortable living situation with a great quality of life. What many pet owners aren’t aware of, however, is that there are simple everyday ways to help keep your cat healthy and happy. It is always better to work on preventative measures ahead of time rather than having to attend to a problem later on. Here, we’re going to help you out with xx simple ways to elongate your cat’s life and keep their health in tip-top shape.

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Cat Breeds 101: The Abyssinian

This Abyssinian has the breed's signature almond-shaped eyes, big pointy ears, and "ticked" coat pattern

This Abyssinian has the breed’s signature almond-shaped eyes, big pointy ears, and “ticked” coat pattern

The Abyssinian is a popular medium-sized breed of house cat that has a striking and unique “ticked” coat that gives them such notoriety in the cat breed world. Each hair on the Abyssinian’s fine coat is banded with different colors, giving them a look that is instantly recognizable and aesthetically pleasing. The Abyssinian breed is an old one, originating near the Egyptian coast over one hundred years ago. The name Abyssinian comes from the cat’s origins hailing from the area now known as Ethiopia.

Where do Abyssinians come from?

The Abyssinian breed is one of the oldest cat breeds in history, first dating back to the late 1800s. The breed was developed in Great Britain, back when British soldiers began to bring the exotic kittens back to the E.U. from North Africa in the late 19th century. Genetic research says that the breed officially originated in Egypt and near the Indian Ocean Coast. Today’s Abyssinians derived from Alexandria, a city in Egypt, by a British soldier in 1868. In the late 1930s, Abyssinians were exported from Great Britain to the U.S. to form the American breeding program.

What do Abyssinians look like?

Notice the slender tail and legs of this purebred Abyssinian

Notice the slender tail and legs of this purebred Abyssinian

The Abyssinian is a slim, medium-sized cat. Their heads are wedge-shaped, with the nose and chin forming a straight line when viewed from the side. Their ears are large and pointy, complimented by their large almond-shaped eyes that come in gold, green, hazel, and copper. Their legs are long and skinny, with small paws and a comparatively long tail that becomes skinnier as it goes on. The Abyssinian should weigh between 6-10lbs.

Abyssinians are born with dark coats that lighten over the first few months of their life. Their coats are short and fine, yet dense and full. One of the most notable traits of the Abyssinian is the pattern of their coat; referred to as “ticked” or “agouti” pattern. This can be described as each hair having bands of color, creating a complex fur pattern. The ridge of their spine, tail, the back of the legs, and paw pads are typically darker in color. You’ll find the typical tabby “M” pattern on their foreheads in many cases.

The standard color of an Abyssinian is a warm red/brown with black ticking. They can also be silver, blue, chocolate, and lilac. This special pattern of their ticked coats is due to a dominant mutated gene called Ta. The genome was first published based on an Abyssinian named Cinnamon. There are other colors that have either been observed or are in development, including a “torbie” pattern; this includes the ticked pattern on the hairs, but possesses the tortoiseshell pattern beneath the fur.

What do Abyssinians act like?

Abyssinians are known to be smart, extroverted in the right settings, and very playful. They are so play-oriented that Abyssinians are known to become depressed without the appropriate amount of attention and care. They are quiet and not huge on meowing, which can be a pleasant attribute for quieter homes.

As shown with these kittens, Abyssinians can come in a variety of colors, even in one litter

As shown with these kittens, Abyssinians can come in a variety of colors, even in one litter

The breed is great with strangers and family in the right setting, but tend to become anxious and uncomfortable outside of their homes. This provides a challenge for breeders wishing to show the cats. They may not be lap cats, but they certainly are loyal and loving. The Abyssinian loves to perch up high, and an extra tall cat tree would be a great addition for any Aby-owner. They are intelligent and energetic and tend to sleep less than your average cat, craving attention and action over a cat nap most days.

What is the Abyssinian’s health like?

The Abyssinian has a few health problems that come up regularly within the breed. One concern is gingivitis. Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease, which can be very serious and costly to fix. Gingivitis refers to the swelling of the gums, and is usually caused by plaque. Having an Abyssinian as a pet will require a bit more maintenance due to this ailment; you’ll need to regularly brush their teeth and take them to the veterinarian for regular oral health checkups.

THe breed is also prone to familial renal amyloidosis, a kidney disorder. They are also prone to blindness and patellar luxation. Progressive retinal atrophy is a gene mutation that causes blindness which comes up often in the Abyssinian breed. Another health problem that often occurs in Abyssinians is Pyruvate Kinase deficiency, which impairs the red blood cells ability to metabolize and can cause anemia or other blood-related problems. This can be tested for, and a responsible breeder will be open and upfront about the prevalence of the disease in their breed line.

Abyssinians are a smart and brave breed, good for homes with children and other pets. Their lack of fearfulness will keep them from hiding, and their curiosity will allow them to bond with the other members of your household. If you are interested in adding an Abyssinian to your family, be prepared for an energetic and lovable sidekick that requires a bit more maintenance than your average feline. You may have to brush your Aby’s teeth and give them baths occasionally, but the benefits certainly outweigh the negatives! Look for a responsible breeder in your area, or keep an eye out at your local animal shelter. You never know; an Abyssinian may just come your way!

Calculating Your Cat’s Age

Portrait of bengal cat close-upMany people wonder how to tell a cat’s age, and since a cat can’t just up and tell you their birthday, this feat becomes a guessing game for many cat owners. Many times, veterinarians are able to take an educated guess at the age of a cat, but this isn’t necessarily always right. There are a few ways to predict the age of your cat, whether they’re a young kitten or an older cat. Here, we’re going to give you some tips and tricks to figure out the age of your cat, and understanding what you can expect from that age.

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Is Your Cat Depressed?

Sad CatAs most cat owners know, the furry friends can be quite temperamental. You can tell when your cat is happy, tired, hungry, or feeling feisty pretty easily. However, what many cat owners don’t know is that cats can get depressed. A cat’s depression can come from a variety of sources, and it is important to watch for the signs and symptoms as a cat’s owner. Depression is defined by long periods of sadness or hopelessness, and can happen to a cat at any time. Here, we’re going to talk about the reasons why a cat might be depressed, the symptoms of a sad cat, and how to remedy it.

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Declawing: The Facts

Cat ClawsMany cat owners ponder the decision of whether or not to declaw their cats. You’ve heard all of the rumors; good and bad. Some people believe that declawing a cat is an inhumane act, while others see it as a housekeeping necessity. We’re here to set the record straight and give you all the facts on the ethics of declawing, as well as other ways to make kitty claws be an issue of the past.

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How To Help A Fat Cat Lose Weight

This cat resembles a basketball.

This cat resembles a basketball.

Did you know that obesity is one of the main health problems for cats? It is easy for cats to pack on pounds, especially if they’re indoor-only. As you can imagine, this leads to a variety of health ailments for your furry little friend. Although a round cat can be pleasing to the eye, obesity puts cats at risk of diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and many other health ailments. Even the fattest cat can lose weight with the right plan. If your cat is seriously overweight, make sure to consult your veterinarian before making dietary changes. Losing weight at too rapid of a pace can strike up other serious health complications.

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Why Do Cats Sleep So Much?

Sleeping CatThe term “cat nap” isn’t without an explanation; cat owners know that this isn’t just a figure of speech. However, a real cat nap can last for many hours, rather than just a few like the term. Cats sleep up to 75% of their lives away, and many people wonder why this is.

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