Love cats but have never been able to share your humble abode with one due to the dreaded ‘A’ word: allergies? You’re not alone! According to the American College of Allergy, 10 percent of the population is allergic to household companions, with cat allergies being twice as common in Americans than canine allergies. So, is there a solution to the problem? Kinda-sorta. Hypoallergenic cat breeds. They sound more fiction than anything else, but hypoallergenic cat breeds do actually exist — making co-existing with cats a dream come true for allergy sufferers!
First, do hypoallergenic cat breeds exist?
“Hypoallergenic breeds do exist, and some even come in long hair,” says Sasha Gibbons, DVM at Just Cats Veterinary Hospital in Stamford, Connecticut. “Contrary to popular belief, it is not the hair that people are allergic to but rather proteins in the saliva that are introduced onto the fur through grooming or dander (dead skin cells) throughout the fur. Certain breeds produce less of the proteins that cause a reaction, making them easier for people with cat allergies to tolerate.”
Though no cat is 100% hypoallergenic, we’re about to give you the lowdown on a handful of hypoallergenic cat breeds known for producing fewer allergens — so the two of you can live in harmony!
Hairless Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds
1. The Sphynx
At the top of our hypoallergenic cat breeds list is a breed that may not surprise you … the Sphynx. His lack of fur makes him numero uno when it comes to hypoallergenic cat breeds, but that doesn’t mean that he comes without maintenance. Daily ear cleanings will keep his large ears in tip-top shape, while weekly baths will keep oil build-up at bay!
2. The Cornish Rex
Following the full-on hairless Sphynx are two ravishing kitties from the Rex line: the Cornish and the Devon. The Cornish Rex is covered only in a downy undercoat, as opposed to having the three layers of fur (outer, middle and under) that most breeds have, making him the most hypoallergenic of the duo. It also makes him a bit more high-maintenance as, like the Sphynx, he does require weekly baths to prevent oil build-up on his skin.
3. The Devonshire Rex
Dubbed the ‘monkey in a cat suit’ due to his circus-like antics, the short, curly-haired Devonshire Rex doesn’t require the same baths that the Cornish Rex does. However, his paw pads and ears do well with frequent cleanings to remove oil build-up.
Hairy Yet Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds
Not all hypoallergenic cat breeds are hairless cat breeds! As unbelievable as it may sound, some of the most hypoallergenic cat breeds are those who sport quite the manes — further proving that it’s the level of FelD1 protein produced and not the cat fur itself that causes you to achoo! So, who are these fierce felines? Let’s take it from the top.
4. The Siberian
Known for her moderately long coat, the Siberian is the last breed you might expect to land on a list of hypoallergenic cat breeds, but here she is! The Siberian cat actually produces less FelD1 protein and dander than other cat breeds, making her the cat’s meow for allergy sufferers.
5. The Balinese
Two more for the long-haired team: the Balinese and the Javanese. Like the Siberian, the Balinese (known for her long-haired Siamese beauty), is another one of those hypoallergenic cat breeds who produces fewer FelD1 protein, so her presence is more agreeable to allergy sufferers than, say, a Persian.
6. The Javanese
And the Javanese? She lacks an undercoat, which amounts to less fur, and less fur results in … fewer allergens!
7. The Bengal
Due to his leopard-like looks (he does have Asian Leopard Cat genes in his blood), the Bengal has been a fan favorite with feline fanciers for years, but he’s also an amazing choice when it comes to hypoallergenic cat breeds. Bengals groom themselves less frequently than other breeds, so his fur has a lower count of FelD1 protein, making him an exotic option for your hypoallergenic home!
The bottom line on hypoallergenic cat breeds
Talk about a game-changer, right?! Now that you’ve met a few beautiful hypoallergenic cat breeds, you have the chance to fulfill the ultimate dream: becoming a cat parent! After all, why should allergies stand in the way of kitty cuddles?
Tell us: Are you allergic to cats? How do you make living with cats and allergies work? Would you ever try parenting any of these hypoallergenic cat breeds? Let us know in the comments!
Thumbnail: Photography by Alena Ozerova / Shutterstock.
This piece was originally published in 2018.
About the author
Erika Sorocco has been writing about cats for more than a decade; and rescuing animals since the age of 3 when she spotted a chipmunk drowning in her backyard kiddie pool. She currently shares her California home with one finicky feline (Gypsy), one crazy pup (Jake), and a collection of sweaters covered in cat hair.
27 thoughts on “7 Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds for Cat Allergy Sufferers”
I've have two Cornish Rexes and am not allergic to them at all. I've had mild to moderate allergic reactions to cats and wanted a breed that I could love on without having any issues. It took me about a month of getting acclimated to each one when I first brought them home – a few sniffles to contend with – and now they even sleep in the bed. Plus, I love that they don't really shed, just a bit when the weather gets warm. When cat-allergic people come to visit, I wipe them down with Allerpet or Burt's Bees Dander wipes as some of my friends do get the sniffles around them. Absolutely no need to give these cats a bath. I've seen this advice before and don't know why the writers recommend weekly baths. They do a great job cleaning themselves, although ears, feet and teeth need extra care and cleaning. Cornies are a lot of fun; an energetic, friendly breed. Once most people who have never seen one get over how different they look, they become fans.
What about the Russian Blue?
Russian blue has two coats of hair that only sheds primarily for two weeks my wife is very allergic to many cats is not allergic to the Russian Blue and we’ve had him over 10 years
also want to stay that the Russian blue is one of the friendliest people-friendly cats in the world
My family has allergies to cats, dogs, rabbits, horses, etc. We love animals. We have always had cats and at one point we ended up with a Siberian. We knew absolutely nothing about the breed. Imagine how ecstatic we were to discover that none of us had any problems with our allergies, even the family member who suffers the most. We had our Siberian for 16 years. He also had the greatest,most laid back and friendly personality I’ve ever come across in a cat. We miss him terribly. We now have a Maine Coon rescue, who gives us all minimal allergies and we have a Siamese kitten. The Siamese comes from a purebred bloodline and his dander is problematic, even at such a young age. He is going to have to tolerate a lifetime of baths and hearing our vacuum cleaner every day. He has a wonderful personality and is absolutely adorable. Our Maine Coon is beautiful and his fur feels SO amazing, but if you are an allergy sufferer, I strongly recommend you adopt or invest in a Siberian. You get to enjoy a big fluffball with a sweet nature and not have to feel burning, itchy eyes and a scratchy sore throat, hives or constant sneezing.
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I’ve had allergies to both dogs and cats since childhood. I can’t be near a dog. I have had Siamese cats because they are so beautiful. I’ve found the purebred less reactive. I’ve learned to take allergy pills and eliminate dustcatchers and to do lots of cleaning. By accident, I recently adopted a Himalayan kitten, so I’ll have to see how that goes!
Thank you for your lovely column.
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What kind of cat do you have
My husband is severely allergic to cats to the point it affects his asthma and he cant breathe. Our son Loves cats and we want to get him a Bengal but we are afraid to bring one home, fall inlove, only to realize we can’t keep it. I would like to know others thoughts or experiences who are also severely allergic like my husband.
My wife has been highly allergic to cats and dogs all her life and sleeps with my bengal cat right by her face. when we were dating she went to the breeder to pick my lil guy up and in a room of 9 kittens she was totally fine.
My husband too is severely allergic to cats and has asthma, we visited a couple with a Siberian mama and a Siberian/ Siamese Papa and their six kittens, my husband played with all of them for over half an hour, now we’ve had a kitten for six months with no issues, but we still make sure we vacuum frequently, keep her out of the bedroom and he washes his hands after handling her just for precautions but seriously, check out a Siberian, they are even low shredders!
Europei pelo corto e lungo
Love your story, I had a Ragdoll– Ragamuffin and they are the best breed !
I’m allergic to cats and I have three of them in my one bedroom condo. The more you are exposed to the allergens, the less sensitive you become. As long as I don’t touch my eyes or let them sleep on my pillow I’m fine. Going to long without sweeping the floor can sometimes give me an asthma attack, so I make sure I use my inhaler before cleaning my place. Not having a carpet also reduces the amount of allergens in my place as well. I love cats; allergies are not going to get in the way of having them!
There is also an Oriental a cousin to the Simeese for someone with allergies. Comes also originally like his cousin Siamese from Thailand But quite possibly (?) could be related to the Bengal judging by his SUPERIEUR intelligence. He is also a beauty. Moumou has strips not as pronounced as Bengal but still, and spots. And at 3 months old he was, for a better word, of orange colour. Well, they exist also in different colours . He has surprisingly enough the sweetest disposition but I have to warn you, this is a “high maintenance” cat. He gets into every mischief imaginable, he started the first day with knocking my plants around because he had to be right there, right in the middle?…, He has a character of a dog rather than a cat and has only one Master/Mistress- me! I have read in Wikipedia that this is a trait of the Breed. Hm…He is like a Big Baby and the first 6 months he had spent in my arms stopping me from doing anything.., he would lie on a keyboard “creating” new files on my computer or switching around the screen… I have never had a cat like that in my life and I love him to distraction…
What breed is your cat? He sounds wonderful. :-)
As Monika up there noted, the Oriental is its own breed. It’s basically a Siamese in all the other colors/patterns cats come in, not the pointed pattern of the Siamese.
I’ve been allergic to cats and dogs since I was a child but I’ve always loved cats and had them. My allergies to cats seem to have gone away over the years so maybe I’m just lucky.
Wonderful, informative article. Very well written.
We have a beautiful Bengal, chosen as my daughter has a severe allergy to cats. If she loves and kisses her too much she does get a little bit sniffy, whereas in a room with another puss she can suffer terribly without having any contact with the cat.
We are all madly in love with our Bengal, she has an adorable nature, follows us around and chats to us – waits in the hall for me to come home from work and is impressively intelligent. Will snuggle up on her terms and loves being loved. If you have an allergy and want a beautiful friend I highly recommend this breed.
We have two Russian Blues – no problems with my allergies.
So happy I found a breed that works for me. I love to cuddle my babies :)
Yes, no idea how the Russian blues were left off this list.
My Russian blue (I’ve had him for 18 years now) is the first cat who I had no reaction to (rashes and asthma to almost all other types I’ve met and have.)
Second best would be my Turkish van, but her hair flies everywhere and it’s hard to differentiate between allergy eyes and her fur being in my eye :-)
Appreciate your sharing the “allergy experience”, with said kitty. Cu need the same.
I have allergies and asthma. I had cats and miss my 3 babies so very much. They were my company and help with my depression, anxiety. I would love to be able to have a cat again. Miss the companionship and love they give.
You should look into Ragdolls. Both me and my mom have severe allergies to pet dander. So much so that the pet doesn’t have to be in the same room. Just the dander on the person and we react. Anyways, my sister came to visit us with her Ragdoll, Lola. Normally both me and Mom are reacting within 2 minutes. After 2 hours we still hadn’t reacted. Turns out they don’t have an undercoat. A year later and I have adopted 2 Ragdolls.
I’m excited…I’m getting two Ragdolls in 2 weeks, one is a munchkin. I cannot wait! My breeder said no undercoat, so hopefully all will work out well. ❤️