Everything you ever wanted to know about hypoallergenic cats!

Guest post by David Jez
By: jetling – CC BY 2.0
By: jetlingCC BY 2.0

Should you be a cat lover, but suffer from cat allergies, you may be thinking that getting a cat may not be a great idea. Fortunately, there exist certain cat breeds that may trigger no, or very little, allergic reactions! These breeds are known as “hypoallergenic cats.”

Don’t forget though, that “hypoallergenic” does not mean “non-allergenic.” There has never been a cat that would be completely allergy-free! But I’m a cat lover, and, because I suffer from cat allergies, I decided to share my knowledge related to hypoallergenic cats…

What causes allergies to cats?

The main cause of cat allergies is the Fel d 1 Protein and dander. The Fel d 1 protein is largely produced in cat’s saliva and sebaceous glands. The dander is a term for the shed skin that comes off of the cat in the form of small flakes.

Not only dander can irritate your skin, but can also attack your immune system. This results in the triggering of allergy symptoms and allergic reactions — watery eyes, breathing difficulties, cough, hives, sneezing, or wheezing.

Cats constantly groom themselves which involves rubbing their saliva in the fur. While doing that, they spread the cat allergens around. There is nothing you can’t do about it as the self-cleaning is their natural instinct.

Get tested for allergies before choosing your cat breed

People’s allergic reactions can vary with different breeds. Whereas one person may be allergic to Russian Blue, he may not be allergic to Balinese. There are two methods I recommend…
1. Get tested by an allergy specialist.
2. Visit a cattery or a cat breeder to check for potential allergy problems.

Hypoallergenic cat breeds

While every single cat in the world produces the dander, some cat breeds produce it much less than others. There are 14 low-allergen cat breeds with the described hypoallergenic trait…

1. Siberian

Ivy the Siberian cat
Ivy the Siberian cat. (By: hatetosketchCC BY 2.0)

2. Balinese

fluffy ruff
Erasmus the Balinese cat. (By: jivaCC BY 2.0)

3. Russian Blue

The three Russians
Three Russian Blues. (By: rfunnellCC BY 2.0)

4. Rex

Cornish Rex cats. (By: anna-stinaCC BY 2.0)

5. Bengal

Medusa the Bengal cat. (By: sjdunphyCC BY 2.0)

6. Burmese

Bismuth loves it when a plan comes together
Bismuth the Bermese. (By: sjekkiebunzingCC BY 2.0)

7. Ocicat

Two Best Buddies: Bootle & Shark
Bootle and Shark the Ocicats. (By: pixwixCC BY 2.0)

8. Siamese

You have our attention.
By: JamieCC BY 2.0

9. LaPerm

Steve the LaPerm cat. (By: jetlingCC BY 2.0)

10. Javanese

Javanese farm cat
Javanese farm cat. (By:danielwork77CC BY 2.0)

11. Oriental and Colorpoint Shorthair

Colorpoint Shorthair
Colorpoint Shorthair kitten. (By: kitty.green66CC BY 2.0)

12. Sphynx

Spring sunbathing
Amelie and Freddie the Sphynx cats. (By: skithundCC BY 2.0)

Hypoallergenic cats are great for the people who suffer from cat allergies. Should you be one of them and cat lover at the same time, you may consider getting this low-dander cat breed in order to relieve symptoms of cat allergies.

What are YOUR experiences with hypoallergenic cats? Any more advice for future cat owners with allergies?

Comments on Everything you ever wanted to know about hypoallergenic cats!

  1. Good to know! Maybe I can talk my partner into an allergy test to see if one of these breeds might work for us (I being the cat lover and he being allergic). Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hello,

    thank you for your kind comments. Should you want more information, do not hesitate to visit my website ihypoallergeniccats.com. If there is anything I can help you with, please let me know :).

    Regards, David

  3. Some say the Turkish Van (aka the Swimming Cat, or the “dog in a cat suit”) is also hypoallergenic. They have amazing personalities and are gorgeous. I have one and he is such a character and really well behaved. Because they are “swimming cats” (please don’t test this on an unwilling kitty) they have different types of multiple fur layers (similar to how people have different types of epidermis layers) than regular cats. This is what most of these breeds have in common – they lack the type of fur that harbors dander well, because they’re partly bred from wild species, from my understanding (like the Bengal tiger, or Javanese lynx), or their fur has unique purposes, like moving through water.

  4. Oooh would someone be willing to do a post like this with dog breeds?

    I think I’m too allergic to cats even for a low-dander one :-/ And I’m moving in with a guy who is allergic to my beloved dogs (he’s agreed to take meds and suffer but the dogs and I have to sleep in a different room when they’re over- I have partial custody with my ex, so it works out, but not ideal.) Thinking towards the future, I really always want to have a doggy, so I’m sorta keeping my eye out for what breeds he’d be able to tolerate. I’d prefer a rescue mutt every time if it’s up to me, but I can hit up the breed-specific rescues, I suppose.

    • Greyhounds have a different type of fur from most dogs – and a lot less of it! – and so are great for people who might get sneezy around other breeds. They don’t get “wet dog” smell, they almost never need to be groomed, and the dog itself is super low-maintenance energy- and needs-wise. Be warned, though, greyhounds are somewhat of a cult, and people joke that they’re like potato chips: you’ll want more than one 🙂 There are plenty of rescues pretty much throughout the country, all staffed by knowledgeable and helpful folks. Definitely check them out! Poodles also have hair rather than fur, so any poodle is a good choice if allergies are concerned.

      edit to add: Greyhounds are pretty independent, and your rescue can help you to find one that will be a good fit for your family, but they have very fragile skin (so rough-housing with non-greyhounds/non-sighthounds can be dangerous – what might be a harmless nip between two labradors can be a serious injury for a snoot), and they do best in homes where they have a steady routine. They also are prone to separation anxiety, because they’ve spent their whole life surrounded by other dogs and people; making the transition to a couch with just one or two people (and potentially no dogs) can be a big shift! Again, your local rescue is a great resource 🙂

  5. oh man, do i wish i could have a cat sometime in my life! i am allergic to everything with hair, especially horses, but also anything else, including the mice that lived in the walls of my friends medieval house. so i don´t think it´ll work out for me, but i will try once my kids are older.

    i especially hate that friends who own a cat are no longer an option to visit, or to come over at our house, which sucks big time. and all the well meant pleas: but i did just clean! she sheds almost no hair! she never comes in this room! i am sorry, it´s nothing personal, i just like my lungs filled with air, thanks.

    and there it is, my frustration with the universe about my allergies, poured into a rant when i just meant to say: thanks for the article, it gives me a tiny glimpse of hope….

    • Hi! I have the same history with allergies. I was so allergic to anything with fur that I could not carpool with pet owners, even if their furbaby wasn’t around. I couldn’t go to parties at any “animal” houses and even wound up estranged from family who had dogs. It put a total damper on my social life, because, as a lesbian, a lot of my friends and potential dates spend weekends hiking with an ever-present pack of rescue dogs.
      Then, I started going to an acupuncturist for issues I thought were completely unrelated to my allergies and asthma. During my treatments, the acupuncturist would frequently say, “Oh, I’m doing (insert name of point here) for your (headaches/depression/lack of concentration/etc.) and it is also good for asthma and allergies.” I completely dismissed the claims of allergy treatment, as I had failed at shots and every new pill, until I went to a cousin’s BBQ. When, much to my aggravation, some dog walked through the house, I immediately went to the host to say something like: Crap, I have to leave, some jerk brought their dog. The reply I received was: “No, that dog has been here the whole time, he’s my roomate’s.”
      After that, I started testing the waters around various hypoallergenic breeds. I am now the mom of two Cotons de Tulear (google them). I also got a cat-owning girlfriend. Now, I can be in houses with several dogs at once Still haven’t tried horseback riding, but, the sky’s the limit.
      Anyway, long story to say: Accupuncture! Who knew? Look into it and good luck!

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