Top 7 Cat Breeds for People with Allergies

If you’re a cat lover who is allergic to cats, or someone else in your family is, the good news is that many people are able to build up a tolerance to kitty allergens over time.

In fact, the majority of allergic cat enthusiasts learn how to manage their condition without having to live a feline-free existence. It seems the benefits of being owned by a kitty outweigh the drawbacks of allergies for most cat people.

Low allergen or “hypoallergenic” cats are known to produce fewer allergens than “regular” cats. Note that the operative word here is “fewer.” Hypoallergenic is not synonymous with non-allergenic, and no breed is completely non-allergenic.

The protein Fel D1 is the allergen in cat saliva that causes problems for allergy sufferers. Once a cat licks her coat, the allergen-laden spit dries and becomes airborne, seeking a warm home in your sinuses. Some cat breeds produce less of this protein than others, making them hypoallergenic.

Factors That Affect Allergen Production: 
  • Males produce more allergenic secretions than females 
  • Intact males produce more than neutered males 
  • Dark cats tend to produce more than light-colored ones (no one knows why) 
  • Kittens produce fewer allergens than adults

Cats Good For Allergy Sufferers

Although no cat breed is truly hypoallergenic, there are seven breeds that produce fewer allergens. This “hypoallergenic” list should not be the only thing you consider when researching which breed of cat to adopt, however. Be sure to consider all of each breed’s characteristics to determine the best fit for your household.

Three of the seven hypoallergenic breeds are Oriental lines: the Balinese, Oriental Shorthair and Javanese. This provides several options for cat lovers who’d like a low allergen cat with the characteristics of the popular Siamese.

The Top 7 Cat Breeds for People With Allergies

1. Balinese:

Often referred to as the “longhaired Siamese,” the Balinese looks like an unlikely candidate for a hypoallergenic cat. But it is one of the few breeds that produces less of the Fel D1 protein than other cats, thus causing fewer allergic reactions in allergy sufferers.

2. Oriental Shorthair:

They’re hypoallergenic, but it’s still a good practice to groom your Oriental frequently to keep dander to a minimum. Cats love to be brushed and it's a great bonding experience for you both.

3. Javanese:

Like 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 translates into fewer allergens.

4. Devon Rex:

Of the two, the Devon has both shorter fur and less fur. 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.

5. Cornish Rex:

If it weren’t insulting, it might be fair to describe the Cornish Rex as “doglike," as he's a willing retriever to thrown toys. The Cornish Rex requires more upkeep than the Devon because they require frequent baths to mitigate the oil buildup on their skin.
6. Sphynx:

The hairless Sphynx is the cat most often associated with being hypoallergenic. Being hairless does not mean they’re maintenance-free, however. Your Sphynx will need frequent baths to remove the gummy buildup of oils on her skin, and her large ears will also require frequent cleanings.

7. Siberian:

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 75 percent of cat allergy sufferers have no reaction to the Siberian.

After You’ve Brought Your Cat Home

It’s important to understand that adopting a “hypoallergenic” cat may not be the panacea you’re expecting. Before you adopt a cat, spend some time with her or a cat of the same breed to see if your allergies remain in check.

Once you have a cat, there are steps you can take to minimize allergens whether she’s a hypoallergenic breed or not:

Frequent Baths and Brushing: If you’re allergic, the process is best left to a groomer or family member. Research has proven that washing your cat 2 -3 times a week can remove up to 84 percent of existing allergens and reduce the future production of allergens. Some claim that using cool, distilled water in the bath may also reduce allergen levels.**(See below)

Wash Toys and Cat Bedding: Washing toys and bedding also reduces the number of allergens floating around your home. Do this at least once a week.

**You may also want to consider getting a cat that loves the water. He'll look forward to those "fun time" baths which makes it much easier for you both.

Surprisingly, many shelters and rescue groups have a large number of pure breed cats to choose from. If they don't have what you're looking for, you can go online and put in your preference. They'll let you know when your "special" kitty has arrived.