balinese cat sitting on a cherry tree

Balinese cats are not hypoallergenic. However, no cat is truly hypoallergenic. When someone has cat allergies, they are allergic to the proteins that the cat makes. These proteins are apparent in the cat’s skin, saliva, and urine. While cat hair can theoretically help spread skin cells and saliva around, they do not directly contribute to cat allergy symptoms.

Therefore, how much fur a cat has does not directly impact how many allergy symptoms they cause. Balinese cats have skin, saliva, and urine and make all of the proteins other cats do. For this reason, they often produce allergy symptoms.

There are some claims that Balinese cats produce fewer proteins than other cats. However, there is no scientific evidence to back this up. In fact, studies have found that breed is not a significant factor in the variability of protein production. The only way to determine how much protein a cat makes is to test their skin and saliva directly.

What About Cats Causes Allergies?

The proteins cats produce are the cause of cat allergies. For one reason or another, a person’s body decides that the proteins a cat produces are harmful. Therefore, an immune response is triggered anytime that person contacts cat proteins.

Beyond that, we don’t really know why some people react like cat proteins are invading bacteria. There are many theories behind this underlying reason. Some believe that it is genetic, while others claim that it is the result of living in a too-clean environment. Without regular bacteria attacks, our bodies forget what counts as an attacker and what doesn’t. Therefore, they may react to things that are not attackers.

Our immune systems are “learning” while we are young and cat allergies often develop in children. However, there are few studies on when and how these allergies develop, largely because it is difficult to ethically perform studies on people (especially children and babies). After all, you can’t randomly assign children to different home environments to see what group ends up with the most allergies!

There is one study that has suggested cat allergies may be linked to an ancient defense mechanism against the slow loris, which is the world’s only venomous primate.  Slow loris venom causes humans to go into allergic shock. In some cases, anaphylactic shock will occur, which is deadly. Obviously, this wouldn’t have been good for our ancestors.

Strangely enough, cat protein is remarkably similar to slow loris venom. Therefore, it appears that some humans may have developed an immune response to slow loris venom to prevent the serious problems it causes. However, at the same time, this trait may have inadvertently made them also react to cat proteins.

balinese cat in grey background
Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Can I Build Immunity to Cat Allergies?

Every allergy sufferer is different. Some react very well to medication and quickly develop a tolerance to cat allergies. Others suffer despite immunology treatments and medication. The only way to find out is to work with your doctor to determine the best course of action for you.

It is not recommended to attempt immunity development by yourself. While repeated exposure to cats can cause you to build immunity, it may also make it worse. Therefore, it is vital that this is done in a clinical setting where your reaction can be monitored.

Conclusion

There are a lot of misconceptions about cat allergies out there. Many people mistakenly believe that cat allergies are caused by cat hair. However, this is not the case. Instead, cat allergies are caused by proteins that cats make. All cats make these proteins in pretty similar amounts. Therefore, all cats will produce allergy symptoms in sufferers, including the Balinese.

While we do know that proteins cause allergies, we don’t actually know why some people react negatively to these proteins. It is similar to food allergies, which we don’t fully understand, either.


Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock