Thu, Feb 09, 23
If you or a family member suffers from an allergy, you know how uncomfortable they can be. You shouldn’t let your allergies get in the way of becoming a pet parent. Hypoallergenic dogs are often discussed, but what if you’re craving a feline companion?
This article will dive into what exactly causes allergies to domestic cats, if cats can truly be hypoallergenic, and the best cats for people with allergies to felines.
What Causes Allergies to Cats?
Although you might assume that cat fur is what causes an allergic reaction, it is actually a protein called Fel D1 that triggers all the uncomfortable allergy symptoms. Fel D1 is found in cat saliva and can cause you to sneeze, swell, and get itchy eyes.
However, because cats are such avid groomers and often clean their coats, the protein in their saliva works its way into their fur. Once the saliva dries on their fur, it can also become airborne, triggering allergic reactions.
Like dogs, some cats produce less of the Fel D1 protein, making them ideal felines for people who suffer from allergies. It is also important to note that male cats produce more Fel D1 than female cats.
Furthermore, male cats who have not been neutered produce more of the allergens than neutered males. Male cats produce between three to five times less Fel D1 after being neutered. Although scientists still do not know why, it is also thought that dark cats may produce less Fel D1 than lightly colored cats.
Can Cats Be Hypoallergenic?
Given that all cats produce some of the allergy-inducing Fel D1 protein, technically speaking, no such thing as hypoallergenic, allergen-free cats exists. However, as previously mentioned, several cats produce far less Fel D1 than others.
That said, although there are not 100 percent hypoallergenic cat breeds, there are several breeds that produce far less Fel D1 and are less likely to trigger an allergic reaction. Usually, the cats who shed the least and have the fewest grooming needs are considered hypoallergenic.
What Are the Best Breeds for People With Allergies to Cats?
Now that you know what causes allergic reactions to cats, let’s look at some of the best breeds for people with allergies. Remember that although these are the best breeds for people with allergies, it is always best to consult your doctor or a veterinarian before you adopt a furry friend if you are worried about your allergies.
If you research Balinese cats, you may be skeptical of their classification as a hypoallergenic breed. Sometimes referred to as “long-haired Siamese,” these cats are known for their impressive black and white coats. However, they produce less Fel D1 protein than other cats, making them an ideal candidate for people who struggle with allergies.
2. Devon Rex
Devon Rex cats shed very little, which means they are perfect for people with allergies because they won’t leave cat hair floating around the home. They are known to be independent and can keep themselves entertained when their cat owners are out of the house, but they love a cuddle and some attention when people are around.
3. Cornish Rex
Like the Devon Rex, Cornish Rexes have short, thin coats and do not shed often. Their coats are curled tight to their bodies, ideal for anyone who suffers from allergies. Unlike other breeds, the Cornish Rex cat loves to be picked up and is very fond of affection. They are high-energy and love to play.
4. Sphynx Cat
Unlike the Balinese, you might think a Sphynx would be perfect for allergic people because they are hairless cats. However, they do produce allergy-inducing dander. That said, frequently bathing your Sphynx can minimize the amount of dander they produce and the severity of your reaction.
5. Oriental Shorthair
Given that Oriental Shorthairs have shorter coats that are silky and low-maintenance, they are often considered hypoallergenic cats. These cats are outgoing, active, and like to talk with their pet parents. Since they are energetic cats, you will need to think of ways to keep them active and occupied.
6. Russian Blue
You can spot a Russian Blue cat based on their coat color. With a lavender base that becomes a lost silver at the tip, these cats appear rich and bluish-gray. Their coats are easy to maintain, making them a great choice for cat allergy sufferers. You can also recognize a Russian Blue because they have a slightly upturned smile.
If you’re familiar with Ocelots, you can imagine a smaller version to picture an Ocicat. These extremely high-energy cats want to play, making them perfect for families with young kids.
Given that they do not shed often, Ocicats are a great option for people who suffer from allergies. They are also fond of swimming, which makes them relatively easy to bathe compared to other types of cats.
Siberian cats have a relatively long coat but do not produce much of the Fel D1 protein. They are a perfect choice for pet parents who want a feline with an impressive coat but are prone to allergies.
Siberians are affectionate and intelligent. Although they are larger than most house cats, they are incredibly agile and are great jumpers and climbers.
Crossed between a Balinese and a Colorpoint Shorthair, Javanese cats are known for being vocal, just like Siamese cats. They are athletic, smart, and curious, so you’ll likely find them climbing all over the house.
They shed far less than most cat breeds and have short coats with no undercoat, making them perfect for people with allergies.
Bengal cats are energetic and loyal cats with short, manageable coats. Although they might not enjoy sitting in your lap and being pet, they will stay close to their family and love to play high-energy games with their pet parents.
11. Colorpoint Shorthair
The first cousin of the Siamese, the Colorpoint Shorthair is an extroverted cat that will love to socialize with your family and is a sensitive, friendly cat. Much like a dog, you will find that these short hair cats are sensitive to your emotions and will try to soothe you if you appear distressed.
Although there are not technically hypoallergenic cats, you can consider several cat breeds if you and your family are allergy sufferers but want a four-legged friend. If you are interested in adopting a cat but are worried about your allergies, try spending a little time with the breed you’re interested in to get a sense of how you react to them.
Once you bring your feline home, there are a few ways you can limit your allergic response. Regularly bathing your cat can eliminate a large percentage of the allergens in their fur. If you can’t comfortably bathe your furry friend, bring them to a groomer. Since cats tend to be avid lickers, washing their toys and bedding also reduces the airborne Fel D1 in your home.
Regardless of what breed you choose, know that your allergies don’t have to stand in the way of adopting a cat. Simply research what breeds may be easiest for you to be around and take the necessary steps to reduce the number of allergens in your home once you adopt your feline.