Many people these days suffer from allergies of various types: grass and pollen, dust and mold, foods, and last but not least pet hair and dander. In the case of cat lovers, there are a few breed choices that produce fewer allergens and can, therefore, be considered potentially hypoallergenic. These recommendations are anecdotal and should in no way be taken as medical advice. One should always check with their physician or have a specific test done to determine if an allergy-causing agent is present in a kitty before welcoming her into your home.
Causes of cat allergies
Although many people believe it is a cat’s fur that causes the allergic reaction surprisingly it is more often the saliva, with dander also potentially allergy-inducing. Once a kitty grooms (licks) herself the residual saliva dries and becomes airborne, or gets onto us through petting them which is what causes a persons itchy sneezy allergic reaction. There is an enzyme called Fel D1 that is the root cause of many of these problems, although some other factors may also contribute.
Interestingly it’s the intact (non-neutered) male cats who produce the largest amounts of allergens, followed by neutered male cats and female cats who produce the least. Most kittens also do not produce these allergens, but as we know they DO grow up to be adult cats.
Some breeds are also higher producers based on their genetics. As we go through the list you may find some surprising and unexpected results!
The Top 5 least allergy causing cat breeds
5. Balinese – also known as the long haired Siamese. Surprised? Yes, even people with allergies can own beautiful long haired cats. Due to their genetic makeup, they just don’t produce much of the allergy-causing Fel D1 protein.
Like their Siamese cousins, they tend to communicate very vocally. If they want your attention you’ll know it! They are very loyal and sensitive to their human’s moods. If you need a cuddle the Balinese will provide just the response you’re seeking without being asked.
4. Oriental Shorthair – although these cats are considered non-allergenic it is probably wise to give them a wipe down with a damp cloth occasionally to keep potential dander at a minimum. Their coat is very short and lays flat against the body so brushing isn’t a requirement.
These kitties have personalities that are inquisitive and mercurial. They may act the class clown one minute and be too cool for school the next! They are quite agile so be prepared to give them a climbing structure of some type. They are also inquisitive and your Oriental Shorthair kitty will follow you around almost like a puppy to be involved in whatever it is you’re doing.
3. Devon Rex – one of two “Rex” breeds, Cornish Rex being the other. The Devon requires less maintenance than the Cornish which is why I chose to highlight it here. The Devon has shorter fur and less of it so only infrequent baths are necessary. She will need her paw pads and ears cleaned as they produce oils that can build up.
Their over-sized ears and round ice blue eyes have resulted in descriptions such as “elfen” or “alien”, but the Devon Rex has a sweet loving personality that will win your heart.
2. Sphynx – this is the “hairless” wrinkly looking cat breed that most people associate with being hypoallergenic. In the case of the Sphynx, being hypoallergenic does NOT mean being maintenance-free. Due to her hairlessness, the skin of the Sphynx produces a protective oily secretion that can build up and become gummy without regular bathing. Her large ears will also need cleaning frequently.
The Sphynx has personality traits similar to those of a very active dog. She is animated and lively and will keep you entertained with her aerial acrobatic performances. She will be loyal and devoted to her human and will follow you around wagging her tail doggy fashion and purring with affection and contentment.
1. Siberian – also known as the Siberian Forest Cat, this is another long-haired breed similar to the Balinese but considered hypoallergenic due to low levels of the enzyme in her saliva.
Siberians are full of personality and playfulness, and unlike many other feline breeds are fascinated with water. A Siberian kitty will not hesitate to jump into the tub or shower before it’s dry, or drop her toys in her water bowl and make a game of fishing them out. Siberians are also quite intelligent and have superior problem-solving skills.
You can have allergies and have a cat too
While no animal is 100% hypoallergenic these breeds will give some people the opportunity to welcome a kitty companion into their lives without causing too much suffering.
Aside from choosing a less allergy-causing breed, there are other things you may do to alleviate allergy symptoms. One suggestion would be using an air purifier which is especially helpful in removing allergens from your home environment.
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For some individuals the continuous exposure to allergens from their own cats can actually cause their bodies to develop an immunity, and their allergic reactions to diminish or disappear.
Just keep in mind if you are one of the lucky ones for whom this happens it will likely apply only to your own specific kitties and will not keep you from experiencing symptoms around other animals.
Thanks for reading this article, and I wish you and your furry companions all the best!