Updated - Feb 28th, 2022
Hives, sneezing, swollen or itchy eyes – anyone with an allergy to cats will easily recognize the symptoms of a reaction. And if you’re allergic to cats, you probably know someone else who is too.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), as many as three in 10 people with allergies in the U.S. are allergic to cats or dogs. In fact, cat allergies, the AAFA reports, are about twice as common as dog allergies.
Nevertheless, you might be looking for a friendly feline to join your family and are wondering if there are cats better-suited for allergy sufferers – after all, there’s always talk about the best hypoallergenic dogs. What about the best hypoallergenic cats?
Although no cats are truly non-allergenic, some breeds are said to produce fewer allergens compared to others. Read on through our list of the 10 best hypoallergenic cat breeds to learn more.
What Causes Allergies to Cats?
Before we break down our list of breeds, it’s important to understand a little bit about what causes allergies to cats.
A protein called Fel d 1 is the major cat allergen. All cats produce this protein, mainly in their saliva, and spread it when they groom themselves. Fel d 1 is then also spread from the dander in a cat’s fur, as well as from the fur when they shed.
Therefore, an allergic reaction occurs not from coming into contact with the cat’s fur itself, but from the protein transported on the fur.
Do Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds Exist?
So, if all cats produce the Fel d 1 protein, what is a hypoallergenic cat? According to a study in the European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, there’s no such thing as allergen-free or hypoallergenic cats.
The study also explains, however, that Fel d 1 production can vary greatly among different cats, noting that male cats have been shown to produce three to five times less of the protein after they’ve been neutered. Similarly, female cats are known to produce less of the protein than males.
In short, while there may not be any truly hypoallergenic cat breeds, those that are considered “hypoallergenic” are often thought to produce less of the Fel d 1 protein; therefore, they cause fewer allergy symptoms.
10 Best Cats Breeds for Allergy Sufferers
Now that you have a better understanding of cat allergies, let’s talk about some of the best “hypoallergenic” cat breeds. Some of these breeds are said to have less of the Fel d 1 protein, while others shed less or have less hair, making them less likely to spread allergens compared to other felines.
The Balinese, sometimes referred to as the long-haired Siamese, is known to be smart, adaptable, and social – but not overly demanding. It’s thought that the Balinese emerged as a result of a spontaneous mutation when long-haired kittens were born to a Siamese cat.
These cats can get along well with other pets and children, and appreciate a good balance of play and relaxation. Balinese cats are said to have less of the Fel d 1 protein, making them great for people with allergies. Plus, despite their long coats, these cats are not frequent shedders and require minimal grooming maintenance.
Like the Balinese, Siberians are also thought to have less of the Fel d 1 protein compared to other cat breeds. Siberians are big cats and come in many colors. These cats have a triple coat, which can be maintained with weekly brushing.
Siberian cats do shed seasonally, during which time daily brushing will help keep their coats healthy, especially the undercoat, as well as minimize allergens.
In terms of personality, these cats are intelligent and attentive – they love to learn and like to figure out things for themselves. They are gentle around children, other pets, and visitors, and are happy to have an audience.
3. Oriental Shorthair
Although the Oriental breed comes in both a shorthair and longhair variety, Oriental Shorthairs are considered to be more suitable for cat allergy sufferers due to their short coats.
These cats have silky coats that are easy to care for and don’t shed too much. Regular brushing can help cut down on shedding and help the coat look its best.
Oriental Shorthairs are known to be very talkative, active, and outgoing. These cats are very social and will need exercise or activity to keep them occupied. Oriental Shorthairs love to create close friendships with their family members or another pet that can keep up with their energy.
4. Devon Rex
The Devon Rex has thin, fine hair and sheds less than many other cat breeds. You can wipe down the coat of this cat to spread the natural oils and keep it clean, but generally, the Devon Rex won’t require much grooming care.
These cats have a lot of energy and like to use it. They love to be involved in whatever you’re doing and are known for purring loudly when happy. Devon Rexes are also said to be a little mischievous, so you’ll want to keep an eye out to make sure they’re not getting into any trouble.
5. Cornish Rex
Cornish Rexes have curly coats that sit close to their bodies. Similar to the Devon Rex, these short, thin coats are low shedding – often making them more tolerable to those with allergies.
These cats are fun, energetic, and love to play. The breed is curious, athletic, and unlike many cats, loves to be picked up. Cornish Rex cats will follow you around from one place to the next and thrive on attention.
Originating from a cross between a Balinese and a Colorpoint Shorthair, Javanese are Siamese-like cats known for their vocalness. These chatty cats might talk back when spoken to or start chatting for no reason.
Javanese cats are smart and athletic – they’re excellent jumpers and love to make good use of their curiosity, exploring cabinets or drawers if they’re able to. These cats have short, low-maintenance coats with no undercoat.
The Javanese are known to be one of the lowest shedding cat breeds and regular brushing will help minimize any allergens.
Although the hairless Sphynx is often one of the first cat breeds that comes to mind for allergy sufferers due to their lack of hair, these cats are not as hypoallergenic as you would think. Like all cats, Sphynx do produce dander, but it can be minimized by frequent bathing – which also helps prevent a buildup of oil on their skin.
Sphynx cats are friendly, outgoing, and playfully mischievous. This breed is also intelligent, curious, and loves attention. These cats will be willing to follow you around, showing dog-like loyalty and devotion.
The Burmese is an energetic, talkative, and sometimes stubborn cat that loves to spend time with children, other cats, and dogs. These cats are smart and enjoy playing – they won’t be thrilled being left home alone, especially without something to keep them busy.
Burmese cats have short, silky-feeling coats, and although they may not be quite as low shedding as some of the other breeds on our list, they’re still on the lower end of the spectrum. These cats have minimal grooming needs, but like many other cats, daily brushing will help keep their coats healthy and clean.
Looking like a miniature version of an Ocelot, the Ocicat is an athletic, high-energy, and very smart breed. These cats can be a little demanding – they’re outgoing, chatty, and they want to play and be active with their families.
Unlike many other cat breeds, some Ocicats actually don’t mind water and may enjoy taking a swim. These cats love company and having another cat or dog in the house to keep them busy.
Ocicats are low-shedders, but using a grooming cloth on a regular basis to remove dead hair can be helpful.
10. Russian Blue
Recognizable by the color of their coats, Russian Blues are gentle, affectionate, and happy to spend quiet time alone and with their families. These cats are adaptable, empathetic, and sometimes a little shy.
Russian Blues have a short but dense coat, and they may shed a little more than some of the breeds on our list – so they may not be the best choice if you have serious allergies. Generally, however, these cats keep their coats well-maintained and regular brushing can help minimize shedding and allergens.
Choosing a Hypoallergenic Cat for Your Family
Looking into cat breeds with minimal shedding and low grooming needs – those that we consider hypoallergenic – is a great place to start if you or someone in your family has allergies.
At the end of the day, however, all cats are different and it’s difficult to say for sure if a certain breed or a certain cat will or won’t cause a reaction. Therefore, as you’re trying to determine which cat is right for you, it can be helpful to talk to breeders, veterinarians, or other experts for more information and insight into your specific situation.
And, whichever feline you welcome into your family, learn how Pumpkin can help keep your cat healthy.