Hypoallergenic Cats — Get the Facts

Are any cats truly hypoallergenic? See our list of hypoallergenic cats and discover some advice on how to live happily with cats — even if you're allergic.

Man with cat allergies sneezing.
A human sneezing around his gray cat. Photography by Art-Of-Photo on Thinkstock.

According to The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, between 6 and 10 million Americans are allergic to cats or other pets. If you’re an allergy sufferer who also happens to be a cat lover, you may be interested in low-allergen cats. But what makes a cat hypoallergenic? Low-allergen, or hypoallergenic cats, are those that typically produce fewer allergens than “regular” cats. The operative word here is “fewer.” Hypoallergenic cats and hypoallergenic cat breeds are not synonymous with non-allergenic, and no cat breed is completely non-allergenic.

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

What Factors Into Making Hypoallergenic Cats Hypoallergenic?

Even hypoallergenic cats aren't completely free of allergens.
Even hypoallergenic cats aren’t completely free of allergens. Photography by Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.
  1. Males produce more allergenic secretions than females
  2. Intact males produce more than neutered males
  3. Dark cats tend to produce more than light-colored ones (no one knows why)
  4. Kittens produce fewer allergens than adults

So, a light-colored female cat might work out better for people with cat allergies.

What Hypoallergenic Cats Are Out There?

As mentioned, although no cat breed is truly hypoallergenic — all cats produce at least some allergens— there are a few breeds that produce fewer allergens than others. This list of hypoallergenic cats 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 which is the best fit for your household.

List of 7 Hypoallergenic Cats

Orange Siberian cat by Shutterstock
Siberian cats might not look like hypoallergenic cats, but they actually are! Photography by uzhursky / Shutterstock.

Three of the seven hypoallergenic cats are Oriental lines

The Balinese, Oriental Shorthair and Javanese are considered hypoallergenic cats. This provides several options for cat lovers who’d like a low-allergen cat with the characteristics of the popular Siamese.

  1. Balinese: Often referred to as the “long-haired 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 cats, but it’s still a good practice to groom your cats frequently (brushing as well as wiping her down) to keep dander to a minimum.
  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.

Two “Rex” cats are on the hypoallergenic cats list

The Devon and Cornish Rex make the list of hypoallergenic cats. Both shed very little fur, which is good news for allergy sufferers.

  1. 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.
  2. Cornish Rex: The Cornish Rex requires more upkeep than the Devon because this breed requires frequent baths to mitigate the oil buildup on his skin.

The last two hypoallergenic cats on the list offer you a choice of hairless or hairy

  1. Sphynx: The hairless Sphynx is the cat who most often comes to mind when people think about hypoallergenic cats. 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.
  2. 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.

What to Know After You’ve Brought Hypoallergenic Cats Home

It’s important to understand that adopting hypoallergenic cats 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.

If you’re getting your cat from a breeder, ask if you can return the cat if your allergies remain a problem (reputable breeders will allow you to do so). Even better, adopt from a rescue organization for the breed; they will always accept returns.

How to Minimize Cat Allergens, Whether You Have Hypoallergenic Cats or Not

  1. Reduce Allergens By Giving Your Cat 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. Frequent brushing will reduce the amount of hair and dander loose in your home.
  2. Wash Toys and Cat Bedding. Washing cat toys and cat bedding also reduces the number of allergens floating around your home. Do so at least once a week.
  3. Be Careful When Touching Your Cat. After touching your cat, wash your face and hands. Never touch your eyes or face before you’ve done so.

Learn More About Hypoallergenic Cats

If you’re an allergy sufferer who is serious about adding a cat to your household, read The Sneeze-Free Cat Owner by Diane Morgan. It provides extensive information on allergy management, including natural and homeopathic treatments for cat allergy sufferers.

Plus, read up on how to effectively manage your nasal allergies >>

Thumbnail: Photography by Art-Of-Photo / Thinkstock.

This piece was originally published in 2016.

About the authors

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Read more about hypoallergenic cats and living with cat allergies on Catster.com:

37 thoughts on “Hypoallergenic Cats — Get the Facts”

  1. Pingback: Animal Lover Vs. Pet Allergies – Brookhurst Animal Medical Centre

  2. Pingback: 14 Best Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds for People With Allergies – The Pet Mama

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  5. Pingback: Are Siamese Cats Hypoallergenic?

    1. Hi Lindsey,

      Please check out some more info on Bengal cats:

  6. Taungela Thompson

    Hi, does anyone know if the ragdoll or ragamuffin kitties are hypoallergenic? I love the two breeds in particular because they’re so furry and affectionate but my husband is badly allergic.

    1. I just gave my beloved ragdoll away yesterday because of asthma. Asthma symptoms are gone the second day, but I feel such a deep, dark sorrow and guilt that I cannot even get out of bed. I never was allergic to cats, until I got my first ragdoll. The key is to test if your husband is allergic to the undercoat and dander of cats or to the protein called Fel d1 in cat saliva. Ragdolls are not hypoallergenic for everyone, but are cuter and more affectionate than you could imagine. Do not get a ragdoll if you are not sure about your allergy, it will break your heart into pieces if you find that you have to give it away.

  7. I really want a cat but my mom is allergic. I’m trying to do all the research I can but I want to make sure that I can keep it and my mom not to have allergies, any tips?!?!

  8. We have had a Siberian male (fixed) for about two years. I have been seriously allergic to cats in general all of my adult life and experienced histamine symptoms and sometimes my throat would close up. We bathe him monthly and vacuum the house regularly, but much of the house has wood flooring so that helps. His coat poofs so we do get lots of cat hair on carpets. Now I have some sneezes each day along with some watery eye condition, so I think I am still allergic to him, but the levels are much lower than other cats. I do wash my hands and don’t bury my face in his fur, but do have him on my lap and he licks hands and arms (not my face), so I could keep him further at arm’s length to reduce my exposure, but he’s…just…too…lovable.

    1. Hi June!

      Thanks for commenting. Here are two articles for more information on Siamese cats:

    2. My daughter had cat allergies all her life. When she moved into a loft with her friends they had a cat that slept with her. Eventually she got used to the cat and could tolerate it. Now she has a siamese. I read they are pretty hypoallergenic . Her’s is white with brown markings. I also read white cats are good for allergy sufferers.

  9. Yes TRUE Maine Coons are Hypo-Allergenic I have a friend who has 2 and she just loves them. And they are not cheap kitties. But they are hilarious.

  10. Pingback: Pet Allergies and Hypoallergenic Pets | Brookhurst Animal Medical Center

  11. My Mom is DEATHLY ALLERGIC to ALL CATS. She was this way for her entire life. I am a cat rescuer, have been doing this for the past 32+ years.
    Many many years ago, I was married to a man who first abused one of my cats, then he began to abuse me. Needless to say, my cats & I needed to get away from him as fast as possible. I had no where to go except to my Mom’s, but was afraid to go there with any of my cats due to my Mom’s super severe life threatening allergies to all cats. No landlords would allow me to rent with me having 10 cats, and couldn’t go into any shelter with my cats either. I wasn’t about to surrender these “babies”to a shelter either. My brothers & sisters didn’t have space for us either.
    Basically I was pretty much forced to move into my Mom’s for a brief period of time ( 3 months). I had all 10 cats with me at my Mom’s.
    While shopping for their food, litter and other necessary items at a local pet store ( Pets Supplies Plus), I came across a brand new product called Allerpet/ C. It is a liquid you rub into the cats fur once a week and it
    eliminates the antigens considered to be the prime causes of allergic reactions to cats. It cleanses the hair of the cat allergen of Feel d1 & dander.
    I can tell you this product DOES WORK & IT WORKS QUITE WELL.
    Allerpet has been on the market for as long as I been involved with doing cat rescue.
    While staying with my Mom for those 3 months, she NEVER ONCE had any type of allergic reactions period.
    I didn’t want to take any chances with putting her health in serious trouble, so I finally got my own place.and yes the cats came with me.
    I moved out. Two weeks later, I was still unpacking & getting my stuff put away in my new place, and low & behold, my Mom was driving thru the neighborhood and decided at the last second to stop over and see me & my place. I had absolutely no idea she was coming over as she didn’t tell me ahead of time. I didn’t have the Allerpet/C on any of the cats.
    My Mom was barely inside my door and went into an instant anaphylactic Allergic reaction. I had no choice but to call the paramedics. Yes she used her Epi-pen, and the hospital was less than 2 miles from where I was living, but her allergic reaction was SO SEVERE, she almost died before getting to the hospital.
    Thank God she did survive, and is still living today. Now she knows before coming over to visit me to give me advance notice so I can quickly round up all the pets and put some
    Allerpet/ C on each of them before she comes over.
    When I have the Allerpet/ C on the fur-balls , my Mom never had any allergy symptoms period. It is a VERY GOOD PRODUCT TO USE.
    Allerpet/C can be used on cats, rabbits, gerbils and guina pigs. This same company also has products for people who are allergic to dogs ( Allerpet/D) and for people who are allergic to birds ( Allerpet/B).
    These Allerpet products are sold at Pets Supplies Plus and a few other pet stores. It is a very popular item which they sell out of quickly, but if you don’t see it I’ll n the store, talk to store manager, and they can special order it for you or just contact the Allerpet company yourself and they can ship it out to your home.

    1. Thank you so much, I will definitely look for it! I really want a cat but my mom is allergic so I do a lot of research but this will definitely help! Thanks!

  12. We recently added an Australian Mist to our household. He is also hypoallergenic. This is a new breed, and we highly recommend. He’s incredibly friendly, fetches his favorite toys (usually a qtip or small wool dryer ball), and is very gentle.

  13. I’m allergic to cats in general, but I had a Maine Coon who slept on my pillow without any problems. I don’t think she shed much, which definitely helped.

  14. I once met a couple at a cat show who had two Korat cats, being shown as alters. The husband had to take strong antihistamines just to be in the show hall, but had no reaction to Korats.

  15. I have a Sibirian Forrest Cat bought from a lady who said it didn’t get on with her dogs. He’s an ex stud cat and Iv had no reaction from him at all. He’s a big gental giant.

  16. It is true that Russian Blues should be on this list. My husband is very allergic to cats but has no problems with the two blues that we own.

  17. Can you offer any information on a “coated sphinx”? His brothers and sisters are all naked so I don’t know how to take proper care of this one.

    Thanks for your help.

  18. i’very been allergic to cats forever until I met my kitty I suggest a russian blue had no I’ll effects from him at all

  19. I would suggest that you reconsider Burmese cats. My husband is allergic to most cats and reacts with red, runny eyes, and sneezing when entering a home. He has lived with Burmese for 35 years with only minor effects occasionally.

  20. By this reasoning, you would think senior cats, which tend to groom themselves less, would be more hypoallergenic as well. Of course, they love a good brushing from you.

  21. Pingback: Best Hypoallergenic Cats for People with Allergies | mycatfirst.com

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