The topic of conversation around our backyard fire pit one night was "Do cats have fur? Or do they have hair?" While most of us voted for "fur," we found out we were all correct. Pet experts say that while all mammals have hair, those with thick coats have fur.
According to theSprucePETS, cited below, "There are no real differences between hair and fur. Technically speaking, the term fur is generally confined to mammals with very thick body hair. Humans have sparse body hair, so it's usually not called fur. With cats, you will often see body hair called fur. With some 'hairless' breeds, such as the sphynx, the short, downy stuff that is almost invisible is usually called 'hair.'"
What makes humans allergic to cats isn't their fur (or hair). Instead, it's a reaction to tiny particles of protein found in the feline's saliva when he self-grooms. That saliva dries into dander flakes on the cat's fur (or hair). Dander is everywhere - in furniture, bedding, drapes, and even the air. That's enough to give most people allergic symptoms.
Cats shed the most in the spring and again in the fall. It seems dried cat saliva takes over! But the ASPCA, cited below, says reactions or allergies to cat dander can be controlled: "Brushing your cat a few times a week can remove dirt and those dander flakes that are caused by shedding."
Of course, regularly vacuuming cat hair from your house will lessen the discovery of furballs under furniture. And it also will prevent your cat from hacking up nasty wads of fur for you to find anywhere - and that means anywhere - around the house. However, be sure you have a vacuum cleaner with an anti-allergen filter, or you may accidentally release dander into the air and make things much worse.
As for the enormous amount of cat hair we find on our clothes, ASPCA suggests using a dryer, "but just remember to clean the lint filter often since all of that cat hair will quickly accumulate."
Best of all, most people find regularly brushing their kitty will help with bonding. The bottom line is that whether or not you say things like "fur" child or "hairball," show your cat some love, and he'll love you back.
Quote to remember: "On some days, hairballs in my house get so big, my cat thinks they're toys." - Patricia Stephens
"What Is the Difference Between Cat Hair and Fur?"
"Cat Grooming Tips"