I am allergic to cats, but can I still own one?

Living with a cat even if you're allergic can be possible, but it requires careful management of your allergies and potentially some changes to your living environment. One of the first strategies you could consider is choosing a hypoallergenic breed. These are breeds known to produce fewer allergens which are primarily a protein found in a cat's saliva, urine, and dander (dried flakes of skin).

When cats groom themselves, this protein gets on their fur, and when it dries, it can become airborne and be inhaled by humans. Hypoallergenic breeds produce fewer of these allergens. Here are some hypoallergenic cat breeds:

1. **Siberian**: Despite their long, thick coat, Siberian cats are known to produce fewer allergens.
2. **Balinese**: Also known as "longhaired Siamese," Balinese cats produce fewer allergens despite their fluffy coats.
3. **Bengal**: These cats have short, pelt-like coats that require less grooming, which means less saliva and dander.
4. **Cornish Rex and Devon Rex**: Both of these breeds have very short, curly fur that doesn't shed as much as other breeds, leading to fewer allergens in the environment.
5. **Oriental Shorthair**: This breed requires regular grooming due to their short coats, which means less allergen spread.
6. **Javanese**: This breed carries only one of the three layers of coat that regular cats have, similar to the Cornish and Devon Rexes. Fewer hairs mean fewer allergens around your home.
7. **LaPerm**: The LaPerm's unique curly coat may help to trap allergens, reducing the amount that is dispersed in the environment.
8. **Russian Blue**: While not entirely hypoallergenic, some allergy sufferers report having fewer reactions with this breed.

It's important to note that individual reactions can vary greatly, and spending time with a cat of the breed you're considering before deciding to bring it home can be very beneficial.

Other strategies to manage your cat allergies include:

1. **Creating Allergen-Free Zones**: Especially the bedroom, can help limit your exposure to allergens. Keeping the cat out of these rooms can provide a space for you to rest and recover from allergic reactions.
2. **Regular Cleaning**: This can help reduce allergen levels. Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter can help trap allergens.
3. **Using Air Purifiers**: Air purifiers with HEPA filters can reduce the number of allergens in the air. It's particularly effective if you keep one in your allergen-free zone.
4. **Grooming Your Cat Regularly**: This can help reduce the amount of dander (skin flakes) and saliva, which are common sources of allergens.
5. **Taking Medication**: Over-the-counter antihistamines, nasal sprays, or other prescription medications can help manage allergy symptoms. There are also allergy shots (immunotherapy), which gradually expose your body to increasing amounts of allergens to build up immunity.

Remember, if your allergies are severe, it might be best to reconsider getting a cat, or you could look into getting a different type of pet that you're not allergic to. Always consult with an allergist or another healthcare professional before making decisions about managing your allergies.