Recently, a “cat-allergic” friend asked me to research the best cat breeds for people with allergies. He would love to have a cat, but his allergies make it very uncomfortable within minutes of being near one.
He’s not alone in his allergy suffering, according to The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 6-10 million Americans are allergic to cats or other pets. Hypoallergenic is not synonymous with non-allergenic, though, and no cat breed is completely non-allergenic.
A protein in cat’s saliva is what causes problems for allergy sufferers. Once a cat licks her coat, the allergen-laden saliva dries and becomes airborne, seeking a warm home in your nose and sinuses.
Factors Affecting Cat Allergen Production
- Females produce less allergenic secretions than males
- Neutered males produce less than intact males
- Light-colored cats tend to produce less than dark-colored ones
- Kittens produce fewer allergens than adults
Cat Breeds For People With Allergies
Although no cat breed is truly hypoallergenic, catster.com identified seven cat breeds that produce fewer allergens than others. Be sure to consider all of each breed’s characteristics, however, to determine the best fit for your household.
- Balinese: Often referred to as the “long-haired Siamese,” the Balinese looks like an unlikely candidate for a hypoallergenic cat. It is one of the few breeds that produces less of the Fel D1 protein than other cats, causing fewer allergic reactions in allergy sufferers.
- Oriental Shorthair: They’re hypoallergenic, but should be brushed and wiped down regularly to keep dander to a minimum.
- Javanese: Like the Balinese, the Javanese has a medium-long single coat that doesn’t mat. With no undercoat, they have less fur, so fewer allergens.
- Devon Rex: Of the two Rex breeds on the list, the Devon has both shorter fur and less fur. The Devon Rex needs paw pads and ears cleaned frequently, but doesn’t need frequent full baths like the Sphynx or Cornish Rex.
- Cornish Rex: The Cornish Rex requires more upkeep than the Devon because they require frequent baths to mitigate the oil buildup on their skin.
- Sphynx: The hairless Sphynx is the cat most often associated with being hypoallergenic. Being hairless doesn’t mean they’re maintenance-free, though. Sphynx cats need frequent baths to remove the buildup of skin oils, and their large ears require frequent cleanings.
- Siberian: The Siberian has a moderately long coat, but is hypoallergenic due to the lower-than-average enzyme levels in their saliva. Claims state 75 percent of cat allergy sufferers have no reaction to the Siberian.