Six cat breeds that cause the least allergies
It is a sad fact that many cat lovers find living with a kitty impossible because of allergies. But are there some hypoallergenic cat breeds that are less likely to trigger a reaction? Cat in a Flat finds out more.
Why do cats trigger allergies?
An allergic reaction happens when a person’s body treats a substance it comes into contact with as something dangerous. Their immune system is triggered to attack it, even if it’s something most people find harmless like contact with a cat, or pollen. This immune response is what causes swollen eyes, sniffles and sneezing, or even hives, rashes, wheezing and shortness of breath for those unfortunate enough to have allergies.
When it comes to cats, you might think that it’s kitties’ fur that makes people sneeze. But for most who have an allergy to cats, it is the proteins in feline saliva and skin particles (dander) that cause problems. To be precise, it is the Fel D1 protein in a cat’s saliva that is the problem. And it’s a common affliction: cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies. So what can you do if you want to adopt a cat, but you can’t stop sneezing around them?
Are there cats that don’t cause allergies?
In short, no cats are guaranteed not to cause an allergic reaction. All cats produce some Fel D1 protein. The idea of a completely hypoallergenic cat seems to be a myth. But some breeds are less likely to trigger allergies than others. Many cat lovers have been able to finally adopt a furry friend by finding a breed that doesn’t make them sneeze. Below we look at six of the breeds known for causing less allergic reactions.
Important: Never assume a more hypoallergenic cat breed won’t cause any allergic reaction at all. The term refers to cats less likely to cause a reaction, but each cat and human is different. Some hypoallergenic cats can still provoke allergic reactions in some people. Anyone with allergies should spend time with their chosen cat breed, and preferably their specific cat, before bringing them into their home. The worst thing for all parties would be to have to give up a kitty due to allergies.
An interesting note on Fel D1 protein levels
Not all cats produce the same level of Fel D1 protein. Kittens produce less of the protein than adults. Female cats and neutered male cats produce less Fel D1 than unneutered male cats. Female cats produce the same levels, whether spayed or not.
The top six cat breeds that trigger the least allergies
1. Sphynx Cats
Although hairless Sphynx cats still have Fel D1 protein, they shed less of it around the house because they don’t lose fur. Sphynx cats still have Fel D1 protein on their skin and in their saliva, so those suffering from cat allergies need to be careful to wash their hands before and after touching their kitty.
2. Siberian Cats
Longhaired Siberian cats are known for being one of the most hypoallergenic cat breeds. It might surprise you that such a hirsute cat would be one of the safest for the allergy-prone, but Siberians produce one of the lowest levels of Fel D1 of any domestic cat breed.
3. Cornish and Devon Rex Cats
These cat breeds have unusual curly fur. Cat fur usually comprises three levels – the outer guard hairs, middle awn hairs and inner undercoat or down. While the Cornish Rex grows only the undercoat of fur, Devon Rex cats grow some guard fur too, but both have very short soft coats. While these breeds don’t produce less Fel D1 protein than other cats, they shed little and groom infrequently, which means less Fel D1 released into the surrounding atmosphere.
4. Bengal Cats
Playful and smart, cat lovers adore Bengals for their beautifully patterned sleek coats. Like Cornish and Devon Rex cats, Bengals have very fine coats that require less grooming and shed little, which means a smaller amount of Fel D1 in the air than other breeds.
5. Russian Blue Cats
These striking silver-coloured cats have extremely plush, thick coats but are also said to have lower levels of Fel D1 than other breeds. Some also say that the thick, dense nature of Russian Blues’ fur keeps dander from being released into the air too.
6. Balinese Cats
This beautiful cat breed is also known as a longhaired Siamese. They might have fluffier, plusher fur than their Siamese cousins but they also produce less Fel D1 than other breeds, making them a better option for allergy sufferers.
Things you can do to manage your cat allergies
- Comb or brush your cat regularly – or ask someone less allergic than you to do it. Regular coat maintenance means less dander in your home.
- Don’t let your cat sleep on your bed. As sad as it might be not to have bedtime kitty cuddles, keeping your furry friend out of the bedroom will help keep the sniffles at bay.
- Wash your hands frequently when handling your kitty, even if you have a hypoallergenic cat breed.
- Clean your home regularly and vacuum carpets and soft furnishings frequently. Make a particular effort to wash anything your cat touches, including their bedding and toys.
- Cats can also carry other allergens, including pollen, on their fluffy coats. To avoid allergic reactions, try wiping your cat with a clean towel or cloth when they come in from outside, or keep your cat inside.
Remember to always brief your cat sitter on how to groom your kitty and take care of their luscious coat (or lack of one if you have a Sphynx!)