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!
“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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And the Javanese? She lacks an undercoat, which amounts to less fur, and less fur results in … fewer allergens!
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!
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.
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.