So you’re looking at the different cat breeds to find the right match for you? But if being in the same room with a cat causes you to sneeze or results in puffy eyes and a runny nose, you might be allergic to cats.
And it is important that you find the best cat breed for someone with allergies. But don’t worry, cat allergies are as twice as common as dog allergies and there are many people out there who are allergic to cats.
Luckily, there are some cat breeds, called ‘hypoallergenic‘, that produce fewer allergens than others. So what does this mean and how does this help you find the best cat breed suitable for you?
What Causes Cat Allergies?
Allergies are the immune system’s abnormal response to otherwise benign substances, called allergens. A person with cat allergies has a hypersensitive immune system that triggers a reaction every time a cat is nearby.
Scientists have identified eight cat allergens, but the protein Fel d 1 is considered the main cause of cat allergies. This protein is secreted by the skin, saliva and anal glands of cats and is also found in dead skin cells of cats.
For example, when a cat licks her coat, the allergen-filled saliva dries and becomes airborne, thus increasing the likelihood of an allergic reaction. The Fel d 1 cat breeds that produces this protein in lesser quantities are the best cat breeds for someone with allergies.
What are Hypoallergenic Cats?
Hypoallergenic cats are those that produce fewer allergens than ‘regular‘ cats. The keyword here is ‘fewer‘. Since there isn’t really a completely non-allergenic cat breed. Even though they aren’t completely hypoallergenic, these breeds cause minimal, if at all any, symptoms of allergies in humans.
Despite common beliefs, cat fur isn’t the main cause of cat allergies. The main culprit is the protein Fel d 1, which is present in cat saliva, skin, cat urine and dander. The best cat breed for someone with allergies should produce less dander and less Fel d 1 protein.
Are There Any Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds?
Technically there isn’t a 100 percent hypoallergenic cat breed since all cats produce at least some amount of dander. However, the following factors are also linked to allergen production in cats.
- Male cats produce more allergenic secretions than females.
- Dark cats tend to produce more allergens than light colored cats.
- Kittens produce fewer allergens than adult cats.
- Intact males produce more allergens than neutered males.
So, a light-colored female could be the best choice to get if you have allergies. On the other hand, you could adopt a light-colored male kitten and get him neutered when he reaches sexual maturity.
How to Minimize Cat Allergens?
You may think everything is settled once you figure out what the best cat to get for allergies is. However, once you have found the best cat to get if you have allergies, there is more you can do. Getting a hypoallergenic cat will certainly help, but it isn’t a cure-all.
Once you bring your hypoallergenic kitty home there are certain steps required to minimize the allergens further. Some of those steps include:
Regular Baths and Brushing
Studies have shown that bathing your cat 2-3 times a week can remove up to 84% of existing allergens. Frequent bathing also reduces the future production of allergens.
According to some owners, using cool, distilled water during bathing also reduces allergen levels. Brushing your cat every day will reduce loose hair and dander and minimize the number of allergens you are exposed to.
However, if you suffer from allergies, this process is better left to another family member or a groomer.
Wash the Cat Toys and Cat Bedding
Washing the cats’ toys and bedding once every week can also reduce the number of allergens in your home.
Be Careful When You Handle Your Cat
If you are allergic, you should wash your hands and face every time after petting or playing with your cat. Never touch your face or eyes before you do.
If you fail to wash your hands, even the cats that cause the least allergies, may cause a reaction.
What is the Best Cat Breed for Someone with Allergies?
There are a number of different cat breeds that are best for someone who suffers from allergies. However, note that the list of the best cat breeds for someone with allergies below, isn’t all you need to consider when bringing a new cat home.
Once you are set on a particular breed, it is best to meet the cat in person. If you are adopting a cat, reach out to the shelter and spend some time with that cat before you make a decision.
If you are set on buying, tell the breeder that you suffer from allergies. Any reputable breeder will allow you to return the kitten if it causes an allergic reaction.
So here are the best cat breeds for someone with allergies.
The hairless Sphynx is considered to be one of the best cats that cause the least allergies.
This breed doesn’t have any fur to trap in allergens. Despite looking low-maintenance, the Sphynx needs frequent baths to remove skin oils.
You probably wonder how is a fluffy, long-haired Siberian a runner-up for the best cat breed for someone with allergies?
Besides producing fewer Fel d 1 protein, the Siberian also sheds less and has less dander. This combination of factors decreases the risk of allergic reaction and makes this breed an excellent choice.
Often referred to as the longhaired Siamese, the Balinese may also seem like an unlikely choice for a hypoallergenic cat. However, the Balinese produces fewer Fel d 1 protein and its single layered coat doesn’t shed a lot.
Even though this breed produces less dander than other cat breeds, regular grooming is still necessary to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.
Russian Blue Cat
Despite having a lush double coat, the shorthaired Russian Blue is also considered a hypoallergenic breed. These cats produce fewer Fel d 1 and also shed much less than their thick coats would suggest.
Their hypoallergenic nature and friendly personality make them ideal for all cat lovers, with or without allergies.
The Javanese sports a medium, single coat that doesn’t tangle and is easy to groom. Due to the lack of undercoat, these cats have less fur so there will be fewer allergens.
The Javanese has normal Fel d 1 levels so it is a good idea to groom your cat regularly to keep dander to a minimum.
Oriental Shorthair Cat
The Oriental Shorthair comes in more than 300 different colors, patterns, and is a breed with numerous different looks. These felines have a fine single layered coat that doesn’t shed often.
Groom your Oriental regularly to minimize dander and unwanted allergens.
Devon Rex Cat
The coat of most cat breeds consists of three layers: a top ‘guard’ hair, middle ‘awn’ hair, and bottom ‘down’ hair. The Devon Rex’s coat is composed of soft down hairs with very little guard hair.
As a result, this breed doesn’t shed much which also reduces the amount of saliva covered particles in the air. Compared to other hairless and less hairy breeds, the Devon Rex is easy to maintain and doesn’t need frequent full baths.
Cornish Rex Cat
As a close relative of the Devon Rex, the Cornish Rex also features a single, curly coat. The lack of fur means that Cornish Rex sheds less than other breeds, but they require frequent baths to remove skin oils.
The lack of shedding and frequent baths reduces the buildup of dander and saliva on these cats and the possibility of provoking an allergic reaction.
Although there is no evidence that they produce less Fel d 1 protein, Bengal cats are believed to be hypoallergenic. This breed has a short pelt-like coat that is fairly easy to maintain.
Therefore, these cats spend less time grooming themselves and spreading allergen containing saliva over their coats. They also don’t shed a lot, so whatever dander present in on the coat doesn’t get spread around the house as much.
Having allergies doesn’t have to affect your dream of owning a cat. While some breeds are worth steering clear of, some are known for their hypoallergenic traits.
Technically, there isn’t a completely non-allergenic cat, but some breeds do produce fewer allergens than others. The best cat breed for someone with allergies produces less Fel d 1 protein which is the most common reason for an allergic reaction.
Having a hypoallergenic cat isn’t a total cure to all you allergy problems. So you’ll also need to take steps to minimize dander and allergens in your home. This will include frequent baths, grooming and regular disinfection of cat toys and bedding.