I am a huge animal lover.
But, because of my acute allergies, I was happy to spend the rest of my life making donations to rescue centers.
Until I came across my rescue cat, Mali, while out on a walk.
I 100% knew that I couldn’t keep him, but I couldn’t leave a hungry kitten to fend for itself.
So, yes, while itching and sneezing away, I wrapped the tiny ball of fur in my sweater and asked my neighbor to foster him until I found a lasting solution.
I came across an article on hypoallergenic cats when googling effective allergy medications. I was shocked (embarrassed even) that I didn’t know that such breeds existed.
Note that no cat breed is completely non-allergenic.
So, in this article, I will discuss five hypoallergenic cat breeds known to produce fewer allergens than regular cats, effectively easing adverse reactions.
What are Animal Allergies, Causes, and Symptoms?
Cat allergies occur when you inhale or come in direct contact with the proteins in animal skin cells, usually dander (skin flakes), saliva, or urine.
A family history of health issues such as Asthma, Allergic Rhinitis, or allergic dermatitis (atopy) makes you more susceptible to animal-related allergic reactions.
Your immune system, which protects you from infections, produces protein antibodies to fight foreign toxins.
In this case, the immune system subsequently overreacts to an animal’s fur or feather, causing a severe allergic reaction.
Common Symptoms of Animal Allergies
If you inadvertently inhale or come in contact with allergy-causing pet dander, saliva, or urine, lookout for the following related symptoms:
- Runny nose and itchy throat
- Watery eyes
- Nasal congestion and/or postnasal drip
- Angio-oedema aka swollen lips and tongue
- Although rare, some people experience swollen and blue-looking skin under the eyes
A blood test for antibodies or a skin prick test, which introduces a small amount of protein allergen, can help diagnose allergic reactions to cats.
While cat allergies may never remedy completely, they are manageable with the following preventive measures:
- Using antihistamine medications to improve the symptoms is the best way to manage the allergy.
- Use a strong anti-bacterial soap to wash your hands immediately after handling your cat, as touching your eyes with dirty fingers can cause inflamed eyes.
- Keep your fur baby out of the bedroom and bed, which is a small price to pay for allergy relief.
- To eliminate both sneaky dust mite and cat allergen, clean bedding in hot water (about 140 degrees) at least twice monthly.
- Because cat allergen can prove challenging to remove, use HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) air purifiers in rooms where your pets frequent.
- In addition to vacuuming your carpets and upholstery, a vapor steam cleaner can be extremely helpful in killing off the cat proteins/dander.
There’s conflicting research about the effectiveness of wet washing cats to reduce cat allergen.
If this is a concern, use a recommended dander remover and a microfiber cloth to wipe the cat’s coat to rid it of visible dander.
It (definitely) beats the highly dreaded bath.
Now, if you’re an animal lover but have crazy allergies like myself, consider these five cat breeds you can safely handle with little to no reactions.
1. The Playful Devon Rex
A close relative to Cornish Rex, Devon Rex cats have soft, fine down hair and minimal top coat. Meaning they shed very little of their fur, thus minimizing the likelihood of triggering an allergic reaction.
While a Devon Rex is a low-maintenance cat, it helps to brush its coat at least twice a week to prevent the accumulation of dirt and further minimize the possibility of allergens and dander spreading throughout your home.
Like other cats, Devon Rexes require an Omega 3-rich diet to ensure that their skin stays moisturized. Including fatty acids in their diet and ensuring they stay hydrated at all times will also keep their coat super healthy.
2. The Agile Oriental Short Hair
Characterized by long, tapering lines and muscular, Oriental Short Hair cats are great hypoallergenic breeds to have.
While you can expect some shedding during the summer and winter months, you can easily keep their allergens to a minimum by brushing their multicolored coats to keep them from shedding.
As aforementioned, the allergy-causing Fel D1 protein is also present in cat urine and saliva. In this case, the saliva in Oriental Short Hair cats seems to be a cause for concern, especially for acute allergy sufferers, as it irritates.
Therefore, keep that in mind when considering adoption.
3. The Highly Intelligent Balinese Cat
Also referred to as “long-haired Siamese,” the playful, intelligent, and attention-seeking Balinese cat is among the few cat breeds that produce small amounts of the allergy-causing Fel D1 protein.
A Balinese cat would make a great addition to your family as it’s a moderate shedder compared to most medium-length coat cats.
This means it requires low maintenance (brushing twice a week) to remove loose hair containing dander and allergens.
Unfortunately, Balinese breeds are susceptible to genetic disorders, such as:
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy eye disorder including cross-eyes
- Respiratory disorders, most commonly asthma or bronchial disease or infection
- Neurological disorders that cause unnecessary brushing and licking due to fast eye movement
- Heart issues including dilated cardiomyopathy
- Balinese cats can be picky eaters and require regular oral care to prevent gum disease thought to be brought on by a wet diet.
4. The Well-Mannered Russian Blue
Unlike most cats that are hypoallergenic based on their minimal shedding, like Balinese cats, the Russian Blue also produces less of the glycoprotein Fel D1 protein.
While their full fur coats make this breed appear like an allergy waiting to happen, the super affectionate and playful Russian Blue makes an ideal pet for people living with allergies.
While cats are not 100% hypoallergenic, the Russian Blue is as good as it gets, so you can give it all the pets and cuddles you want.
Russian Blues are generally clean pets who shed subtly.
However, to maintain the heavy coat that protects them against extreme weather, they require brushing and bathing them as needed.
Additionally, Russian Blues are susceptible to urinary tract disease.
Therefore, place water dishes around the home or use a running water kitty fountain to promote bladder health.
You can also consider healthy additives like fruit-flavored water for the reluctant drinker to encourage adequate hydration.
5. The Athletic Bengal Cat
The Bengal Cat is my personal favorite.
What makes this breed hypoallergenic is their uniquely fine pelts that require little to no maintenance.
Additionally, Bengals don’t shed too much. As such, whatever dander is present in their fur doesn’t get spread around as much.
Another unique thing about this breed doesn’t produce too much Fel D1 protein, and because they don’t groom themselves too much, their fur contains less allergen-rich saliva.
Additional Hypoallergenic Cats
If the abovementioned hypoallergenic cats do not tickle your fancy, here are more breeds for your consideration:
- Cornish Rex Cats -They possess a wonderfully soft “undercoat” of down hair that doesn’t shed too much.
- Javanese Cats–Like Cornish and Devon rexes, Javanese cats have only one fine topcoat, which means less shedding and dander floating around the home.
- Siberian Cats — Like Balinese cats and Russian blues, Siberians’ long, remarkably shaggy fur produces less Fel d 1 protein than regular cats.
- LaPerm Cat–It’s believed that the nature of a LaPerm unique, curly coat helps keep dander from spreading around.
- The Sphinx — Some cat-allergy sufferers go for the Sphinx as this breed is furless, meaning it can’t trap the Fel D1 allergens from their saliva during grooming sessions.
Would you consider adopting any of these hypoallergenic cats? If yes, which one?
While the abovementioned breeds are among the few that produce less allergy-causing Fel D1 protein, it’s still a good practice to groom them to keep allergic reactions to a minimal.
Additionally, frequent baths for cats such as the Cornish Rex are necessary as their skin makes for a good breeding ground for allergy-causing oil build-up.