If you’re a cat lover but suffer from cat allergies, you might still be able to keep a feline companion. There are several cat breeds out there that shed less and cause minimal sniffles.
Below is a list of 10 hypoallergenic cat breeds and useful tips on how to reduce pet allergens in your home. Here are some of the 10 best hypoallergenic cats for allergy sufferers:
- Oriental shorthair
- Devon rex
- Cornish rex
- Russian Blue
What causes cat allergies?
The human immune system is designed to protect us from diseases caused by bacteria and viruses. People with pet allergies have a hypersensitive immune system, making them react to specific proteins found in pet dander (1, 2).
Cat allergies happen when an allergic person comes into contact with allergens from kitty dander, saliva, or even cat urine.
Let’s take a closer look:
Cat fur vs. cat dander
Cat fur alone isn’t an allergen. Instead, the culprit is a protein found on cat hair that triggers allergy symptoms.
Felines produce a glycoprotein called Fel d 1, which they secrete mostly through dead skin cells and saliva (3). This rugged protein can hang out in your home for months (4). It will even attach to clothes and walls, remaining there until removed.
Unfortunately, cat fur can carry the notorious glycoprotein. This is why dander is the main culprit behind cat allergies. Cat skin sheds dander continuously as the skin cells die to make room for new ones (5).
Fortunately, some cat breeds produce less dander than others.
Symptoms of cat allergies
Symptoms of cat allergies vary and can depend on what part of your body the allergens come into contact with (6):
- Red and irritated skin: If your kitty scratches or licks you, the area of skin may become red and irritated. You can also transmit the allergen, for example, by touching your eyes which could make them itchy and red.
- Inflamed eyes, swelling, itching, and stuffy nose: Airborne particles land on the membranes between the eyes and nose. Here, they can cause swelling and itching, inflamed eyes, and a stuffy nose.
- Severe breathing problems: Some particles are small enough to get into the lungs, which can cause breathing problems. People may begin coughing, wheezing, and experiencing shortness of breath as soon as 15 to 30 minutes after exposure (7).
- Fast-growing rashes: Sensitive people may experience an intense rash around the face, upper chest, and neck. If this happens, call your doctor right away.
- Asthma attack: Contact with a cat can trigger an asthma attack if you have allergic asthma (8). Symptoms can include tightening in the chest, wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.
That said, if your allergies are mild—and you keep up with maintenance, like grooming your kitty and vacuuming your home—you should be fine (9).
Hypoallergenic cats: myth vs. reality
As much as we wish there was a breed of cats that produce zero Fel d 1 protein or other allergens, there are no 100% hypoallergenic kitties out there. Even hairless breeds, such as the Sphynx, produce the symptom-triggering protein.
BUT, some breeds come close to being hypoallergenic. Experts have found that some kitties produce less Fel d1, making them easier to live with (10).
10 cat breeds for people with allergies
The following 10 cat breeds are as hypoallergenic as a cat can be. For cat lovers with mild allergies, these breeds are a great choice.
The Balinese cat has a long coat and a plumed tail. It resembles the Siamese cat breed, which is what prompted its nickname, “long-haired Siamese (11).”
This is a fantastic candidate. Despite its long coat, it produces less of the allergy-triggering Fel d 1 protein than other breeds. This makes it more hypoallergenic.
Balinese kitties only have a single coat, which means less shedding and minimal dander. All it needs is a weekly brushing to keep dander at bay.
This blue-eyed breed is quite popular, too. Balinese cats are famous for being friendly and affectionate but also very intelligent. Adults usually grow to become approximately 6 to 7 inches in height, with weights ranging between 8 to 12 pounds.
2. Oriental Shorthair
The Oriental shorthair breed is part of the Siamese family tree. There are more than 300 color and pattern variations, giving the breed one of the largest ranges of physical characteristics.
Their coats are short and quite fine but produce minimal shedding. This helps to reduce allergens in the home. They do need frequent grooming. They’re also recognized for having long, slim legs, big ears, and a characteristic face.
Oriental shorthairs are fun cats to have around the house. They’re known for being playful, athletic, and very intelligent.
Adults usually reach about 8 to 10 inches in height, with weights between 6 to 12 pounds.
3. Devon Rex
The Devon rex breed emerged in England during the 1950s and was often compared to pixies due to their playful nature. Although they might not be as mischievous as their folklore comparisons, they’re very active. You can expect them to perch on your shoulder. They make fantastic companion animals (12).
The breed has distinctive features, such as large ears, big eyes, and a lightweight, wavy, almost curly coat, like a poodle.
Instead of having long fur, their bodies sport soft down with minimal amounts of hair as a topcoat. Because of this, they shed less than others and need less maintenance.
An adult Devon rex kitty grows to about 10 to 12 inches in height. They usually reach a healthy weight between 8 to 10 pounds.
4. Cornish Rex
Despite the name, Cornish rexes aren’t descendants of the notorious T-Rex dinosaur. Instead, the breed is closely related to the Devon rex and dons the same single coat.
A Cornish rex cat sheds less dander but will need frequent baths and grooming to reduce oil buildup. This also reduces the amount of dander present, making them easier to live with.
These kitties are not suitable for outdoor living. Due to their lack of fur, they’re sensitive to low temperatures and live their best life indoors.
Cornish rex cats have big ears, a curved body, and high cheekbones. They can grow quite large—adults range between 12 and 14 inches in height and weigh roughly 6 to 10 pounds.
Siamese cats are quite popular—maybe because of their starring roles in the Disney classic, Lady and the Tramp. They also don a low-maintenance coat that sheds less than others and will only need a weekly brushing.
Siamese kitties are a blast to have around. They’re very curious and love to be with the people they trust. It’s a stunning breed, with a distinctive white coat, dark-brown socks, tail, and facial traits. Not to mention those piercing blue eyes.
They don’t get that big—adults may reach a height of 10 inches with a healthy weight of 10 pounds.
Javanese cats stem from Japan. They’re a beautiful cross between a Balinese and colorpoint shorthairs, resulting in a Siamese-like kitty.
In contrast to most breeds with a top layer, middle, and undercoat, these kitties only have a fine topcoat. Due to their lack of hair, they don’t shed as much, and owners report fewer allergens. Be sure to give them a weekly brushing.
Javanese kitties are quite social, although not as much as the Siamese. They love spending time with their cat parent and observe their daily life (13).
Adults generally reach a height of 18 to 20 inches, weighing between 5 to 10 pounds.
The Sphynx breed is what most of us think of when searching for hypoallergenic cats. It stems from the 1960s and is a result of selective breeding (14).
Sphynx cats need frequent maintenance, especially baths. Their skin can get quite oily, though, which may prompt dander-aggravating allergies.
Still, it’s a lovely breed. These hairless kitties have outgoing personalities, often enjoying cuddles and affection. They are even friendly with strangers, something you don’t see in every cat.
Adults weigh about 10 to 12 pounds and may reach a height of up to 10 inches.
Siberian cats have long, lush coats that are easy to run your fingers through. Because of this, they often aren’t seen as hypoallergenic cats. But compared to other long-haired cats, they produce lower levels of Fel d 1, have less dander and don’t shed much.
They’re fun cats to have around the home since they’re athletic and strong—they do well as both indoor and outdoor cats. They will, however, need regular brushing to condition their luscious coat.
Siberian cats grow to reach heights of 9 to 11 inches and weigh as much as 20 pounds.
The Burmese breed is another excellent option if you want a kitty that loves attention. They’re very easy going and are equally suited to rough-housing with kids and being a lap cat since they love to talk.
We’re almost 80 % sure that these kitties have hypnotic powers. You can easily disappear into their stunning golden eyes.
Luckily, they’re also known for being less allergenic. The Burmese coat is silky and won’t shed too much if you brush them weekly (15).
Adult Burmese cats reach heights between 15 to 18 inches and may weigh up to 14 pounds.
10. Russian Blue
Russian blue cats have a plush, shimmering coat that can range from a light silver hue to a dark-gray tone. They sport short hairs but double coats, giving them that lush, dense texture. Still, it’s thought that they produce less Fel d 1 and shed less than others.
They’re very easy-going kitties, who value their quiet time. They often develop tight bonds with their parents and enjoy weekly brushing.
Healthy adults grow to about 8 to 10 inches tall, with weights ranging from 8 to 12 pounds.
Tips for reducing cat allergens at home
If you choose to have a cat in your home despite being mildly allergic to cats, there are a few steps you can take to reduce allergens.
1. Regular brushing and grooming
Regular grooming and brushing are one of the easiest (and cheapest!) ways to reduce the spread of allergens. Brush your kitty weekly, if not more, to release dander.
If your cat is indoor/outdoor, groom them outside to prevent allergens from getting into your home. If your cat is indoor-only, use the bathroom as your brushing station and vacuum any stray fur after.
Some cat parents like to give their kitty a bath to reduce allergens. But it’s not a guarantee, and not all felines enjoy getting wet. Instead, there are types of applicants you can use that reduce allergens—consult your veterinarian for advice with this.
2. Keep cat bedding clean
Keep tidy any place where your kitty spends a lot of time resting and grooming. This is a breeding ground for allergens and dust mites. Frequent vacuuming prevents allergens from spreading.
You should also avoid letting your kitty sleep in your bed, especially if you’re prone to flare-ups. Let your kitty sleep outside your bedroom until you get your allergies under control (16).
Clean your bedding at least twice a month. Wash it in warm water at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Vacuum daily
Vacuum daily, EVERYWHERE. This includes the walls, floors, carpet, chairs, and other pieces of furniture.
If you don’t have a vacuum already, invest in one with a HEPA—high-efficiency particulate air filter and different hand tools (17) (18). This will help do a thorough job and keep allergens to a minimum.
4. Use an air purifier
Air purifiers are super handy to keep in certain parts of your home, like the bedroom and living room.
Look for one with a HEPA filter as it removes even the smallest particles (19). They need frequent filter replacement but are worth it.
Less sneezing and more breathing
Pet allergies are a nuisance, especially if you love cats. Kitties are notorious for producing a glycoprotein called Fel d 1. This is an allergen secreted in saliva, dander, and urine.
Truly hypoallergenic cats don’t exist. But certain breeds produce fewer allergens making them easier to live with for people who suffer from mild cat allergies. Cats such as Siberian, Balinese, Oriental Shorthair, Devon Rex, are fantastic examples.
Keep up with regular brushing, clean your house daily, use an air purifier, and keep your fur baby out of the bedroom.