Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds for Pet Owners with Allergies
Updated: Apr 6
Allergies. Constant sneezing and itching that can make you hesitant to give your cats affection. It wouldn’t be surprising to learn that you’re not alone, since people are twice as likely to be allergic to cats than they are to dogs. Still, the small build of cats, with their big eyes and those toe beans doubled up with their independent behaviours makes them incredibly hard to resist.
Plenty of people who are cat owners are actually allergic to cats, likewise with dogs. But how do they manage? For a start, getting a specific breed will help, but how do you know which to get? Do some have smaller fur or do they moult less? Well, yes, but that isn’t what actually causes allergies. Keep in mind that no breed is completely non-allergenic, but some breeds are definitely better than others, to the point where they’re referred to as “hypoallergenic”.
Let’s have a look at what causes these allergies, what makes you sneeze and itch? Well as we’ve said, it’s not the fur, this is a common misconception. The actual cause is a protein called Fel D1. The protein is caused in cat saliva and when the cats are grooming themselves they spread the saliva on their fur. The allergen-laden saliva then dries on the fur and as they move around it becomes airborne, which increases the likelihood that you’ll breath in the allergens and create an allergic response to it.
As we’ve stated, some cats are classed as hypoallergenic which means they produce less of the Fel D1 protein. As well as that, there are more factors you can consider that reduce how hypoallergenic your cat is, for example male cats produce more allergen secretions than females. Intact males produce more than neutered males do, so if you’d prefer a male cat, get them neutered. There’s also a wide range of other benefits in neutering - you can check them out on our blog!
Back to allergens, dark cats produce more secretions than light coloured ones, and we’re not really sure why this is! And finally, kittens produce less allergens than adults. So in a nutshell, if you’re really aiming to minimise allergen secretions, opt for a female kitten with light coloured fur, and get her spayed.
However if you really want to keep them down, it’s best going with a cat that’s breed is already hypoallergenic! Let’s have a look at 7 cat breeds for allergic pet owners!
Before we dig in, let us just say that there’s a variety of cats that produce fewer allergens which can make pet parenting a bit easier for you. This list of hypoallergenic cats shouldn't be the only thing to consider before getting a cat. Bare in mind the tips we gave above, and understand that it’s always best to meet your new cat at the owners house or at the adoption centre before you buy, and see how things go.
The Balinese Breed
They’re often referred to as the “longhaired Siamese” and the Balinese actually looks like an unlikely candidate for a hypoallergenic cat breed. But it is in fact, one of the few breeds that produce less of the Fel D1 protein than other cats, thus causing fewer allergic reactions in allergy sufferers.
As well as being incredibly smart, the Balinese cats are also sweet, and fun to be around. Like the Siamese, they are known for their ability to communicate vocally which is a big help with people new to being cat owners. Highly social, Balinese are sensitive to your mood and are more than willing to cheer you up with some happy chatter if you’re feeling gloomy, how cute!
The Oriental Shorthair Breed
Many people consider dogs to be the ones demanding attention and love, and cats being the independent ones doing their own thing - this isnt always the case however. The oriental shorthair breed is a highly curious one. They’ll go to great lengths to be involved in your activities and love being the center of attention. They have a distinctive coat and are natural entertainers who are full of enthusiasm! They’re considered to be non-allergenic, but it’s good practice to groom them frequently to keep dander to a minimum.
The Javanese Breed
Similar to the Balinese, the Javanese sports a medium-long single coat that doesn’t mat. Because of the lack of undercoat, they have less fur, which means that there’s fewer allergens.
Javanese cats are lovely pets, they’re devoted, intelligent and known for their communication skills. They have a fascination with food and tend to burn off extra calories in playful antics. This breed is perfect if you want a responsive cat that’s easy to train and likes showing affection by purring in your ear and following you around.
The Devon Rex Breed
Between the Devon Rex and the Cornish Rex, the Devon has fur that’s both shorter and there’s less of it! Your Devon Rex will need to have her paw pads and ears cleaned of oil build-up frequently, but doesn’t need frequent full baths like the Sphynx or Cornish Rex.
Devons have long been used as artistic references to elves and even space aliens for their jumbo satellite-dish ears, their huge, mischievous eyes, and ethereal appearance. They’re quite affectionate and great companions if your house is low on other people as they’ve been known to cuddle up with you at night and wake you in the morning with kisses and purrs of affection. And since the Devon sheds less than other breeds, you can snuggle back without fear of covering yourself in cat hair!
The Cornish Rex Breed
In contrast, the Cornish Rex requires more upkeep than the Devon because they require frequent baths to mitigate the oil buildup on their skin. Cornish Rexes are active, inquisitive, gazelle-like felines that have a playful temperament. Everything is a game to the Cornish Rex, and they can be hard to ignore when they’re in a sociable mood, which is most of the time. Rexes are determinedly outgoing and loving towards their favorite humans. With their warm suede feel, they make the perfect winter lap warmer, too. Both the Devon and Cornish Rex can be the best cats for allergies, choose one that matches your personality.
The Sphynx Breed
When people think of anti-allergy cats they typically think of the Sphinx because they’re hairless. While this is correct, they’re obviously not the only ones classed as hypoallergenic! There are some setbacks to the complete lack of fur though, in that your Sphynx will need frequent baths to remove the gummy buildup of oils on her skin, and their large ears will also require frequent cleanings.
To say Sphinxes are lively is an understatement; they’ll keep you entertained performing aerialist feats from the top of doorways and bookshelves. According to the French breed standard, the Sphynx personality traits are often compared to dogs and children based on its animated nature. Very devoted and loyal, they follow their humans around, wagging their tails doggy fashion and purring with affection.
The Siberian Breed
Like the Balinese, the Siberian sports a moderately long coat, but still is hypoallergenic due to the lower-than-average enzyme levels in their saliva. Some claim that around 75 percent of cat allergy sufferers have no reaction to the Siberian at all!
Siberians are intelligent, with the ability to problem-solve to get what they want. Despite their size, they are very agile and are great jumpers, able to leap tall bookcases in a single bound. The Siberian breed are affectionate cats thrown in with a good dose of personality and playfulness. They are also open to handling, and have a fascination with water, often dropping toys into their water dishes or splashing in bathtubs before they’re dry.
So remember -
Adopting a hypoallergenic cat doesn’t always mean you won’t be allergic to them, you’ll just be less allergic. You may not see any allergy attacks at all, but there’s a small chance you will. To reduce that chance, try to meet up with a cat of the same breed that you’re interested in to see if you respond to the allergies first.
After that, aim to adopt a female kitten, and get her spayed for both allergy help and for the various other health benefits. Opt for a cat with lighter fur, and give them frequent baths or brushing! Research suggests that if you give regular baths to your cat then you can help remove as much as 84% of existing allergens and you’ll also help delay future production on the fur. Some people claim using distilled water in the bath may help this.
Lastly, wash your cats toys and bedding weekly, this greatly reduces the number of allergens floating around your home. If you’re still having allergy attacks after all of this, which is quite unlikely, then there’s always anti-allergy medication you can take! Now go out there and give a cat the loving family home they deserve!