Although there are some cat breeds that are more hypoallergenic than others, Maine Coons are not any less hypoallergenic than the average house cat. In fact, they might even be more allergenic due to their long coats and higher than average amounts of shedding. If you or any members of your household are generally allergic to cats, a Maine Coon might not be right for you.
What Does It Mean to Be Hypoallergenic?
When a cat (or any pet) is hypoallergenic, it simply means that they are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. It does not mean they will cause absolutely no reaction, or won’t affect people differently, but they can be a great alternative for people who have had mild allergies to cats in the past.
Causes of Allergic Reactions to Cats
Allergic reactions to cats are mainly caused by a protein called Fel D1, which is produced in the saliva of just about all cats. When cats groom themselves they get the Fel D1 protein all over their coat, and shedding causes it to further spread throughout the home.
Everyone reacts to the Fel D1 protein differently. Some people are affected very strongly by it, causing them to cough or develop a rash all over their body, while others are completely unaffected by it.
Why Some Cats Are Hypoallergenic
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. Maine Coons) are particularly high on the shedding scale, and conversely shorthair cats (or hairless cats) are particularly low and tend to be more hypoallergenic.
How To Tell if You’re Allergic to Maine Coons
If you’re still not sure if you might have an allergic reaction to a Maine Coon, it might be a good idea to visit a breeder and see how you react to the presence of one before you decide to bring one home. Fortunately there are a lot of Maine Coon catteries in the United States due to their popularity, and some will even send you some Maine Coon hair in the mail.