Tired of sniffling and sneezing, but love cats? You’ve heard rumors about hypoallergenic cats… but are these types of kitties fact or fiction?
For those who suffer with allergies but love being around cats, the idea of a hypoallergenic cat sounds pretty amazing. But do hypoallergenic cats really exist, or are there just low allergenic cats?
Allergy Sufferers Have Varying Experiences
While some allergy sufferers find that their allergies flare up as soon as they’re around any cat, others find that they have fewer symptoms, or none at all, around certain breeds. For example, an individual may be able to tolerate a domestic shorthair but not an oriental breed. Another person may find that a dark cat causes an allergic reaction while white cats don’t cause the same effects. And still others may say that they can only be around Siberian felines.
Fact: No Breed is 100% Hypoallergenic
No particular breed is considered totally hypoallergenic, so if you suffer with cat allergies, try to figure out if certain cats make your symptoms worse than others. For example, Siberian cats appear less likely to cause allergic reactions, so they may be a great option for some people who suffer with cat allergies but have never been able to own cats before.
Also, the Cornish Rex and Devon Rex, which are both shorthaired, are considered less allergenic because they don’t have as much hair to shed. In turn, they release fewer allergens into the air.
The Sphynx, which is classified as hairless, is another good option for allergy sufferers, and this may be because this breed needs to be wiped down or bathed regularly, which also works on reducing dander that causes allergies.
Recommended Hypoallergenic Cats
There aren’t any 100 percent hypoallergenic cat breeds, but certain breeds are more suitable for people who suffer with cat allergies. So when you hear someone refer to hypoallergenic cats, it basically means that the cat produces fewer allergens than other cats do.
Every cat will produce dander, which is a very common allergen, but many people who suffer with cat allergies may actually be allergic to a specific protein called “Fel d 1,” which is present in feline saliva.
Some of the breeds recommended include:
- Balinese (also known as the “Longhaired Siamese,” this is a breed that produces less Fel d 1)
- Siberian (this breed produces less Fel d 1, despite its moderately long fur)
- Devon Rex (this breed has shorter fur, as well as less fur overall, than the Cornish Rex)
- Cornish Rex (this breed needs to be bathed frequently, unlike the Devon Rex)
- Javanese (this breed has a medium-long coat that doesn’t mat and also lacks an undercoat, which means there’s less fur and fewer allergens)
- Oriental Shorthair (this breed should be groomed regularly to keep dander to a minimum, despite being less allergenic)
- Sphynx (this breed requires regular, frequent baths)
- Colorpoint Shorthair
- Russian Blue
Other Factors to Consider
Again, it can’t be stressed enough that there is no such thing as a completely non-allergenic cat or cat breed. Instead, individuals who suffer with cat allergies may be able to cope with cats who produce fewer allergens.
In addition to the breeds listed above, consider, too, that males – especially intact males – will produce more allergens than females.
Dark cats also tend to release more allergens than cats with lighter colored coats. And kittens will produce fewer allergens, but every kitten will eventually grow into an adult and produce more allergens.
Steps to Take, No Matter What
Before you bring home a “hypoallergenic” kitty, be sure to spend quite a bit of time with him, or any cat of the same breed, in order to determine if your allergies will flare up over time or if they’ll remain under control.
If you suffer with cat allergies, there are certain steps you should take even if you’re able to find a kitty that doesn’t make your allergy symptoms flare up. The key is to minimize allergens in the environment, so maintain a clean home, use a vacuum that includes a HEPA filter, frequently brush and/or bathe your cat (it’s best to let someone who isn’t allergic take care of these tasks), and regularly wash your cat’s bedding and toys.
Lisa Selvaggio is a writer who has volunteered in animal rescue, caring for cats of all ages and learning their many quirks. She is certified in clinical pet nutrition, and enjoys helping pet parents give their fur babies the best care possible. Read more of her work online at LSA Writing Services.