For those struggling with cat allergies, owning their own cat can seem like a distant dream. But, there are some breeds of cats that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. These cats are known as hypoallergenic breeds, and they’re perfect for those cat families, who want to love a cat but don’t want the sniffles, rash, and skin irritations that come with owning one.
First, let’s talk about what makes a cat breed hypoallergenic, and then we’ll share some of the best hypoallergenic cat breeds for those with allergies. We’ll also share some other ways to achieve fewer allergens in your home, even if you don’t have a hypoallergenic cat.
What is a Hypoallergenic Cat?
Before we talk about hypoallergenic cat breeds, we first have to talk about what a hypoallergenic cat even is! The first thing to note is that there’s no such thing as an “allergy-free” cat. Most cat allergies in humans are triggered by a protein found in a cat’s saliva, which means that the more they groom, the more it spreads. Some allergic reactions are also caused by cat dander, which is the dry skin on a cat.
Hypoallergenic cats are breeds that either require less grooming (therefore less saliva), don’t shed as much, or don’t produce as much dander. In addition, some of the hypoallergenic cat breeds on this list actually produce less of the Fel d1 protein in their saliva, which means that they may not aggravate those with allergies as much.
10 of the Best Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds
Now that we understand what causes cat allergies, let’s look at some cat breeds that may be a better fit for those suffering from cat allergies:
Of course, the first cat on our list of hypoallergenic breeds is the famously “naked” sphinx. Sphinx cats are hairless; therefore, the shedding will be at an absolute minimum. But that’s not to say that these cats are completely allergy-free. They still groom themselves and have that pesky protein in their saliva. In addition, sphinx cats require specific care to maintain their healthy skin (including regular baths). Make sure to do your research before getting a Sphinx cat to love on.
Even though Balinese cats have long hair, they are still one of the most hypoallergenic cat breeds because their saliva actually produces less of the Fel D1 protein. Therefore, less of the protein is tracked around the house through their skin oils and fur.
Russian Blues are known for their beautiful blue-grey coats and short, soft fur. Not only do they shed less because they have this short fur, but they also produce less of the Fel D1 protein, as well. Their fur feels similar to a bunny with short fur.
Cornish Rex cats have a very interesting coat because they aren’t hairless, but they also don’t have all the layers of hair that most cats have. In fact, they only have the thin, super soft undercoat, which means that they are still soft but shed a lot less than other needs. This minimal shedding is good news for people with cat allergies.
The Devon Rex is closely related to the Cornish Rex and is a popular hypoallergenic cat breed for similar reasons. In fact, they shed even less than a Cornish Rex! But they still have soft, fine down hair.
If you’ve never heard of a LaPerm cat, you might be able to guess what they look like just from their name! They have a unique curly coat (that looks a little bit like a perm) which helps lock in dander. In addition, their curly coat helps reduce shedding.
Javanese cats are closely related to Cornish Rex and Devon Rex cats, but instead of having a fine undercoat, they only have a topcoat. Most cats have a topcoat, a middle coat, and an undercoat. With only one out of three layers of fur, Javanese cats shed less.
Take one look at a Siberian cat, and you might be surprised that we included them in our list of hypoallergenic cat breeds because they have such long, beautiful coats, but according to WebMD, even people with extreme cat allergies report no symptoms when surrounded by many Siberian cats. This is because their saliva also produces less of that pesky, allergy-causing protein that most cats have. So if you struggle with cat allergies but still want a long-haired cat, the dream is not lost!
Oriental shorthair cats are the result of breeding many different types of cats and therefore come in almost limitless colors and patterns. They have short hair and shed a lot less, especially with regular grooming. With just a brushing once a week, you can control their dander and shedding, therefore reducing the risk of an allergic reaction.
Like Russian Blue cats, Bengals have a fine coat that sheds a lot less than other cats and requires less maintenance. This also means that they don’t groom themselves as much because their coat stays naturally clean, meaning that less of their saliva is tracked around the house. Plus, they’re beautiful to look at and are very entertaining!
Of course, this is only considering whether or not these breeds are hypoallergenic. If you do plan to bring a new cat into your home, make sure to do further research on their temperaments, personalities, special requirements, and whether they’re good with kids and other pets. A lot more goes into finding the perfect kitty companion in addition to learning that they are hypoallergenic.
Other Ways to Reduce Cat Allergies
If you already have a cat that isn’t “hypoallergenic,” there are still some ways you can achieve fewer allergens in your home and limit your exposure. Here are some of our top tips:
- Make sure you are feeding your cat an ultra-premium diet that will help reduce shedding and hairballs. A healthy cat means a healthy coat!
- Wash your bedding and pillowcases at least twice a month or more frequently if your cat enjoys laying on the bed
- Vacuum at least twice a week
- Install HEPA filters in your home or try an air purifier
- If possible, replace carpeting with hard floors that are easier to sweep
- Clean rugs and upholstered furniture every few months
- Wash your hands immediately after petting your cat, and don’t touch your eyes or mouth
- Groom your cat regularly, either at home or at a professional groomer
- Talk to your doctor about immunotherapy
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While no cat breed is completely “allergy-free,” there are some cat breeds that are hypoallergenic for various reasons. Some of them don’t produce the protein in their saliva that causes the majority of cat allergies. Some don’t shed as much; therefore, they don’t spread as much dander and saliva throughout the house. And some require much less grooming and don’t get their saliva on their coats as much. Doing some research on hypoallergenic cat breeds will help you find one that will suit your needs.
In addition to getting a hypoallergenic cat, there are some things you can do to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction. Limit the allergens in your home by cleaning your bedding regularly, vacuuming, and cleaning your furniture, carpets, and litter box. With these changes and understanding how to treat cat allergies, most people can live a comfortable life with their kitty and maintain control over their allergies.