Maine Coons are by FAR some of the coolest cats you’ll ever meet. Their size, grace, fluffiness, and endearing personalities make them wonderful companions and excellent house pets. Unfortunately, for many of us having a hypoallergenic cat is vital since we will otherwise spend our days with red itchy eyes and a runny nose. Not ideal! This quick article is going to cover what hypoallergenic means, whether or not this applies to Maine Coons, as well as answer some commonly asked questions on the subject.
What Does Hypoallergenic Mean?
If you suffer from allergies and find that you must be careful what you eat, drink, and sometimes even wear you have likely adapted to looking for hypoallergenic products to make your day-to-day a little easier. What hypoallergenic means is that a product, food, drink, or even house cat, has little to no allergens. When it comes to cats, these allergens are most often dander, saliva, and urine. If you have ever owned a cat you are well aware of how much fur they can leave all over the house as well as how persistent they are at cleaning themselves. Cats are by nature incredibly hygienic animals.
Which, unfortunately, is part of the problem. The biggest allergen cats produce is a protein in their saliva. When they groom themselves by licking their fur, they are coating their lovely fur with their not-so-lovely saliva. And, naturally, this saliva-coated fur ends up all over you, your clothes, your home, and anyone who comes to visit. If you don’t suffer from allergies to pet dander and saliva you will likely never even notice how much of an effect these allergens have and how easily they spread.
Especially furry cats that tend to shed are normally the biggest culprits for causing allergies but this isn’t the case 100% of the time. One of the other biggest allergens cats, and all animals, produce is called dander. Technically, shed fur does fall under the category of dander but it also generally includes skin flakes similar to our dandruff, urine, and sweat. Dander is often visible, but not always, and generally covers almost every surface of the house (if only slightly). It is estimated that while 70% of the population owns a pet almost 20% of the population is allergic to dander. Naturally, there is some overlap between these groups so hypoallergenic pets must exist!
Are Maine Coon Cats Hypoallergenic?
Unfortunately, no. Maine Coons are wonderful cats with thick luscious fur coats which makes them prime producers of dander, shed fur, and other feline allergens. It’s a shame, but if you suffer from a severe cat allergy then Maine Coons are probably not the cat for you. While it is certainly possible to live with a Maine Coon it will require some drastic lifestyle changes and ultimately will impact your relationship with your cat. Some people recommend that if you strongly feel like you are willing to adopt a cat anyway, despite your allergies, the two biggest things you can do are washing your hands constantly and avoiding petting the cat. This is unfortunate since cuddles are one of the best things about having a pet.
So Maine Coons aren’t hypoallergenic, but that does not mean they are necessarily any worse for you than most other long-haired breeds. There is a common misconception that since they are bigger than most other breeds they will be far worse for people with allergies and while that is sometimes the case it isn’t always true. In the wild, Maine Coon cats would have two big shedding periods twice a year to get rid of their dead fur. A domesticated Maine Coon, on the other hand, will tend to shed periodically throughout the year while some pet owners report no shedding at all from their little lions!
While the idea of having a non-shedding Maine Coon might sound like a dream there is no way of knowing whether or not any individual cat may or may not be inclined to be a heavy shedder, even if you get to meet the parents. Maine Coon kittens, and young adults, are less prone to shedding which has on more than one occasion led to an owner believing they hit the jackpot with a non-shedding cat until year 2 or 3 when they suddenly blow their coat and your kitchen has developed a lovely fur coat of its own.
Maine Coon Allergy Related FAQ
Some quick answers to some frequently asked questions regarding Maine Coon cats and their effect on an individual’s allergies.
How Allergenic Are Maine Coons?
In short, very. If you are someone that tends to suffer from feline allergies in general then the Maine Coon will not be an exception, you will likely find them as much or more of an allergy trigger than any other house cat.
How Often Do Maine Coons Shed?
Maine Coons when in the wild tend to be seasonal shedders, shedding the dead fur out of their summer and winter coats in one big shed. Domesticated cats, however, have a far less intense shedding period and tend to shed year-round and far more mildly. If you live in a country where seasons vary drastically (very cold winters very hot summers) your Maine Coon will probably have a heavy shedding in the spring to rid themselves of their winter coat.
Is a Maine Coon a Good Pet For Someone With Allergies?
It is always a judgment call for the cat owner to be. However, when it comes to Maine Coons the unfortunate answer is probably no. While some people may find a way to manage it, it just isn’t worth the hassle for most as Maine Coons tend to be quite allergenic.
Hopefully, this quick article has answered any questions you may have had about Maine Coons and their suitability for someone that suffers from allergies. Maine Coon is not hypoallergenic, so if that’s a deal breaker for you the Maine Coon might not be quite the right cat for you, and you may want to keep looking.