- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Are you one of those people who (sadly) get itchy eyes and fall into sneezing fits mere moments after being around a kitty? It’s a real bummer and can be especially sad if you’re a cat-lover and have to admire them from afar.
Cat allergies are actually quite common, with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America saying that as many as three out of every ten people in the U.S. suffer from pet allergies. The majority of those are caused by cats.
So what is a feline-lover to do? Get a dog? Live inside a giant bubble? One solution that seems to be discussed more and more often: hypoallergenic cats.
Is there really such thing as a hypoallergenic cat?
The short answer? Not really.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, it’s not the cat hair that people usually react to, which many people mistakenly believe. Instead, it’s a specific protein that cats produce in their skin, saliva, and urine called the Fel d1 protein.
When cats lick their fur, the saliva (containing Fel d1) dries and becomes an airborne allergen—which then makes your allergies go crazy.
So, is there anything else I can do?
All cats produce Fel d1, which is why there aren’t any breeds that are truly hypoallergenic. However, there are some breeds who seem to produce fewer allergens than others, and there are additional ways you can lessen the effects cats have on allergies, including:
- Keeping surfaces in your home clean
- Bathing and brushing your kitty regularly!
- Using a HEPA air purifier
- Steam cleaning carpets to get rid of some allergens
There are also a few (kind of strange) factors that seem to affect allergen production in cats. For example:
- Males produce more allergenic secretions than females
- Intact males produce more than neutered males
- Dark cats tend to produce more than light-colored ones
- Kittens produce fewer allergens than adults
So, even though we’ve know that no cat is entirely hypoallergenic, don’t lose hope! There are some breeds that are easier on the allergies. Here are some of our favorites:
1. Russian blue
Russian Blues are not only beautiful, with a silvery blue coat and green eyes, but they’re also smart and friendly.
Plus, they seem to produce less Fel d1 protein than other breeds, which means that people with allergies tend to have an easier time being around them.
Bengals are also quite unique, with an exotic spotted coat that makes them look a bit like a wild jungle cat.
They are considered more hypoallergenic than other breeds because their short, pelt-like coat sheds less hair than the average cat and requires less maintenance. The less fur floating around with their saliva in it, the better chance you have of not triggering allergies.
The Sphynx cat is a devoted and animated breed. Many people report that they’re hypoallergenic because they’re hairless, and the proteins from their saliva can’t get trapped in their fur.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t still require maintenance. This breed needs frequent baths to clean the oils from their skin, and their big ears need to be cleaned as well.
It may be surprising that this breed is gentle on allergies, considering the long beautiful coat they’re sporting. However, Siberians can sometimes produce less Fel d1 than other breeds, which makes them more on the hypoallergenic side.
They’re also playful and affectionate, making them an all-around wonderful breed for any household.
5. Cornish Rex
The outgoing Cornish Rex is a unique breed because they only have the bottom undercoat of hair, whereas most cats have a top “guard” hair, middle “awn” hair, and bottom “down” hair.
This makes them super soft, and means they shed a lot less than other breeds (which is good for allergies). You will need to bathe them often, though, as they tend to get oil buildup on their skin.
Ever seen a cat with curly hair? Take a look at a LaPerm!
Their unique, adorable coats (which come in a variety of colors) shed a less than other breeds because of the curly texture. This makes them a better option for folks with allergies—plus, their fun, affectionate personalities make them great pets as well.
The Javanese breed has just one single coat, which means they have less fur to trigger allergies. Their coat is also easy to maintain with regular bathing and brushing—and is super soft, as well.
They’re known to be a communicative breed and love showering their owners with endless affection and purrs.
8. Devon Rex
The Devon Rex is similar to the Cornish Rex in that they only have the soft down hair that usually makes up the cat’s undercoats. In fact, this breed has even less hair than the Cornish Rex and doesn’t shed much at all, making them a good choice for people concerned with allergens.
Their appearance is also unique, with big ears and soulful eyes. Plus, they’re cuddly and compassionate, loving nothing more than to snuggle with their favorite humans.
People often wonder how Balinese cats can be called “allergy-friendly” considering their long, luxurious coats, but they are another breed that produces less Fel d1 protein than usual.
A very vocal breed, Balinese are smart and affectionate, and their good looks and allergy-friendly elements, they make a lovely addition to any family.
10. Oriental Shorthair
Oriental Shorthairs are considered better for people with allergies because their coat is short and fine, and tends to shed very little—though it’s recommended that you brush them regularly to remove any loose fur they may have.
Packed with personality, this breed is enthusiastic and a bit of an attention-hog, always trying to entertain.
Even though these breeds aren’t completely hypoallergenic, it is nice to know that there are some more allergy-friendly options for cat lovers looking for a feline to add to the family. Just make sure to do your research so you can make sure you’re finding the perfect fit for your situation.