– Make It Work!
I have felt very comfortable over the years guaranteeing our Devon Rex to be hypoallergenic. Most all people will have minimal or no allergic response to our Devon. I know that folks are highly motivated to finally be able to live with a cat. There are things that can assist the transition of a Devon into the home environment of a person with allergic reactions to the average cat.
The first is to remember that this new cat is hypoallergenic. This is to say that the allergy response will be reduced. I do not believe that there is any cat that is completely non-allergenic. However this said, I would like to reinforce that most people who acquire a Devon right from the first have no reaction to them at all. There are a few folks who will suffer a small initial response which when addressed early and provisions taken will find that these quickly fade.
Your new kitten will always be bathed just before you receive him. This will help to insure minimum response initially. I also always recommend that the new kitten be located in a small room by himself for the first few days. This will give the baby a time to adjust to his new environment and will allow his new parents to adjust to the fact that there is a cat in their home.
The allergic person should keep his initial exposure to the kitten to a minimum. Keep in mind that this is a cat to which you may have some allergic response. This is not the time to test and see if it is really going to work! Just the reverse should be done. After a brief contact with the new kitten, wash your hands. Do not allow this kitten to rub your face, climb and sit on your neck and most important – do not sleep with the kitten!! The kitten should have his own room and you should be able to go into this space and enjoy the new kitten, but you should be able to leave the kitten. Except for the area quarantined for the kitten, your home environment should remain free of cat allergens.
If you find there is not reaction, then move on with more exposure to the kitten. Gradually eliminate some of the procedures of caution. All of this should not take more than a few days and it will also allow your new kitten to become comfortable in his new environment. If you find that you are having any reaction to the kitten, adjust your exposure accordingly. Back off from contact and allow a little more time before you resume.
At this point you might wish to employ a few more aggressive aids. A weekly bath would be a great advantage. Research as proven that even a weekly bath of a regular coated cat will reduce the allergic reaction substantially. Of course a full bath with soap would be ideal, but a simple rinse with water would be helpful. There are also sprays that can be applied after the bath that should further reduce the allergic response. These are available at most pet stores.
I explain to new allergic owners that acquiring a Devon should be considered something like taking allergy shots. Your doctor will inject your body with a small amount of the allergen to which you are allergic. Two weeks later you will return for another injection, this one a little larger. This continues until the required series is fulfilled. The body had over that period of time built up antibodies that will allow for the tolerance of the allergic substance. This is basically the sequence of adjustment that I have explained for the Devon.
Folks who have had very little to no physical contact with cats for some period of time prior to acquiring their Devon are generally at greater risk in requiring an adjustment period. Every individual is different and the amount of time necessary for his or her body to adjust will vary. Generally this period is relatively short.
One must also keep in mind that adding a potentially allergic cat, even if it is hypoallergenic, should not be undertaken when there are already stressful circumstances that the body faces. In this instance the Devon no matter how small a potential issue, may be “the final straw that breaks the camel’s back.” I would recommend introducing a Devon into the family when there are no other allergic reactions present; there is no physical and emotional stress such as final exams or a hectic work schedule. Try to plan your adoption date around a period when you can devote time to the new family member and you will not be preoccupied with other matters.
Most folks who have proceeded to the point of actually acquiring a hypoallergenic Devon are highly motivated for its success. This in its self will almost always assure success. Occasionally a little extra time and effort are necessary. But don’t get discouraged or despair. The effort is well worth the final reward.
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