What Cat Breeds Are Hypoallergenic?

I knew a couple that were avid cat lovers and looking to rescue a kitten that wouldn’t trigger her husband’s allergies.

They eventually found a sweet little British Shorthair (named George) to welcome into their home.

They’re living happily (and relatively symptom-free) together. 

You might be surprised to know that you can have a cat, even if you (or someone in your home) has cat-related allergies.

It’s totally possible for you to enjoy the company of cats (even some cat-kisses) even if you suffer from allergies

The key is choosing the right breed! Well, sort of.

Along with finding the best kind of cat (the kind that produces less of that pesky allergen protein and sheds less frequently), you can also take steps to prevent cat allergies from flaring up. 

But before we get into all of that…

There are a few key things you need to know before you go on the search for a cat when you (or someone in your home) have allergies!

  • You just have to know which cat breeds to look for (hypoallergenic cat breeds)
  • More information on pet-related allergies (what causes them, what the symptoms are, etc)
  • How to care for yourself if you have allergy symptoms but still have a cat(s) in the house

We will get into what cat breeds are best for allergy sufferers, but first, we should talk about cat allergies in general. 

What You Need to Know About Cat Allergies

For a breakdown of how cat allergies affect the human body, check out the video below!

 

Let’s do a quick run-down of pet-related allergies, so we know what we’re getting into here…

  • About 10% of the population (United States) has a pet allergy, and cats are the most common culprits. [1]
  • To be more specific, most pet allergy sufferers are actually allergic to the protein called FEL-d1 – which is found in pet dander.
  • Because of this, even hairless cats can set of allergies. 
  • You can also be allergic to the FEL-d4 protein which is found in a cat’s saliva.
  • You CAN grow out of a cat allergy, but you can also grow into it. Bad news, right? It’s unfortunate, but you could have gone your whole life without a pet allergy and suddenly develop one in your 30s or 40s.

Please read more on the studies here: Smithsonian.

It is possible to have a cat if you have allergies – let’s talk about which breeds are best for allergy sufferers.

What is a Hypoallergenic Cat?

What does it mean when a cat is hypoallergenic?

Some feline breeds are considered “low allergy” (hypoallergenic) simply because they produce fewer allergens then other cat breeds do. Specifically, the FEL-d1 protein – which is what causes those watering eyes, stuffy nose, and pesky allergy rashes. 

This is a common misconception…

Technically speaking, no cat is 100% hypoallergenic – such a pet doesn’t exist because all produce some amount of dander. It’s just that some breeds produce such a minuscule amount of dander that they are considered to be better for those people who suffer from allergies.

These are what we call hypoallergenic cats. 

Let’s get into some of the better known hypoallergenic cat breeds!

Top 14 “Hypoallergenic” Cat Breeds

For the sake of this list, I’m going to explain all the hypoallergenic cat breeds and then give a little more information on the more common ones. 

Here’s a breakdown of the considered hypoallergenic cat breeds: 

  • Siberian
  • Balinese
  • Bengal
  • Burmese
  • Cornish Rex
  • Devon Rex
  • Laperm
  • Javanese
  • Ocicat
  • Oriental Shorthairs
  • Siamese
  • Russian Blue
  • Sphynx
  • Colorpoint Shorthairs

Now, if these names don’t sound overly familiar to you – don’t worry!

Lots of people aren’t familiar with these names, more just their cute cat faces. 

I want to talk about what makes the most popular breed of cats from our list best for people who suffer from allergies. 

So let’s get into it!

Siberian hypoallergenic cat

Android Pie; U+1F408; Emoji SIBERIAN

A very hairy cat breed at the top of the list for hypoallergenic cats? YES! 

As I said, it’s a really common misconception that a cat’s hair (the amount of/lack of) has anything to do with how hypoallergenic they are. It really doesn’t. 

Siberian cats, unlike some other breeds, contain a really low amount of the FEL-d1 protein that we’ve explained is responsible for most allergies. 

According to tests done by the University of California, the Siberian male cat produces on average 2,000 mg of FEL-d1.

Comparing that to the 62,000 mg of that same protein that most other cat breeds produce.  [2]

If you’re looking for a long-haired cat breed that won’t make your allergies flare up – a fluffy Siberian kitty cat might be your best option! 

Personality Profile of Siberian Cats:

  • playful
  • active
  • affectionate and calm 
  • seasonal shedding (minimal, in spring and fall)

Life Expectancy of a Siberian Cat:

11-15 years.

Common Health Related Notes for Siberian Cats:

While both pedigree and mix-breed cats can have varying health problems depending on their genetics and history, Siberians are generally a healthier breed of cat that isn’t prone to many illnesses. One problem that has been seen a little more with this breed of cat is cardiomyopathy (a form of heart disease).

Simple annual check-ups with your vet can alert you to this or any other health issues. 

Balinese hypoallergenic cat

Android Pie; U+1F408; Emoji BALINESE

Another long-haired cutie near the top of our list, the Balinese breed of cats is great for people who suffer from allergies!

Balinese cats secrete less of that pesky FEL-d1 protein than most other cat breeds, because their fur is single coated, meaning they shed less often.

While having a “non-shedding” (or minimal shedding) cat breed doesn’t mean you’re completely in the clear – it does significantly lessen your chances of an allergic flare up because their fur isn’t often found in your bed sheets or on your couch. 

Personality Profile of Balinese Cats:

  • curious
  • outgoing
  • intelligent
  • talkative (do you like to chat with your cats after a long day of work? you won’t be having a one-sided conversation!)
  • athletic

Life Expectancy of a Balinese Cat:

18-22 years.

Common Health Related Notes for Balinese Cats:

When it comes to Balinese cats, there are a few more noted and common health problems that could arise, such as…

  • Amyloidosis
  • Asthma
  • Crossed eyes (very specific to this breed of cat)
  • Lymphoma
  • Nystagmus (a neurological disorder that causes involuntary rapid eye movements)

Again, most of the time, your annual check-up with a vet could alert you to any and all of these issues before they become serious. 

Bengal Hypoallergenic cat

Android Pie; U+1F408; Emoji BENGAL

If you perform a Google search of hypoallergenic cat breeds, Bengals will be at the top of almost every single list, and likely one of the first things you see. 

This is because Bengals are seriously adorable! No, I’m kidding. 

The answer actually isn’t in the amount of the FEL-d1 (and other allergenic proteins) that they produce, because unlike the Siberian and Balinese breeds, Bengals actually produce a relatively normal (larger) amount of the allergy proteins. 

HOWEVER…

Bengals are considered at the tip-top of every hypoallergenic list because of their coats! A Bengal’s coat or fur is like a fine pelt…it requires considerably less maintenance than other cat breeds.

This means your pretty kitty won’t be grooming themselves nearly as much as your other cat breeds would. As a result, their fur contains less allergen-rich saliva!

Personality Profile of Bengal Cats:

  • graceful
  • high activity level
  • mischievous 
  • attention-seeking (they love play time!!)
  • low shedding 

Life Expectancy of a Bengal Cat:

12-16 years.

Common Health Related Notes for Bengal Cats:

With a Bengal cat, you will want to keep an eye out for the following…

  • eye diseases
  • heart diseases
  • joint problems

If you think your sweet Bengal fur-baby is suffering from any of these issues, a trip to the vet with some questions about these specific areas should clear things up!

russian blue hypoallergenic cat

Android Pie; U+1F408; Emoji RUSSIAN BLUE

The Russian Blue is one of those totally gorgeous looking cats that you think you’ll never be able to have because of your allergies! 

Well…think again! 

The Russian Blue not only produces a smaller amount of the proteins FEL-d1 and FEL-d4 that cause our eyes to water and noses to be stuffy – but their fur also gives us some more protection. 

That’s right! Because their dense double coat of fur (which naturally helped the Blue’s to stand the harsh climates of Russia), can also help protect you from those allergens. 

You would think, more fur = more allergies, right?
WRONG! 

Technically, while the allergens can be on their fur because they have a double coat of fur, it’s way less likely that the allergens will reach you or cling to your furniture. Their thick double coat acts as a trap for the allergens, keeping them close to the cat’s skin and away from you!

Personality Profile of Russian Blue Cats:

  • quiet, private
  • low grooming needs (also great for those with allergies)
  • sweet, affectionate 
  • loyal, follower

Life Expectancy of a Russian Blue Cat:

15-20 years.

Common Health Related Notes for Russian Blue Cats:

Respiratory tract disorders, eye conditions (such as glaucoma) and kidney diseases are among the common ailments of this beautiful breed. 

I cannot stress enough the importance of annual vet check-ups for your pet – even if they are prone to a handful of different illnesses or conditions, catching them early can make a huge difference! 

Siamese cat hypoallergenic cat

Android Pie; U+1F408; Emoji SIAMESE

The best thing that the Siamese cats have going is that they shed less (way less) than most other breeds of cat. 

Naturally, this means fewer allergens in the air, on your clothes and in the crevices of your couch. 

A lot of the cats on our “hypoallergenic cat breeds” list are actually relatives of the Siamese (Balinese and Javanese cats, to name a few). 

Siamese cats (and their relatives) are known for producing less of those allergen proteins, and that’s why there are a lot of this kind of cat on this list!

Personality Profile of Siamese Cats:

  • attention-seeking
  • affectionate
  • high energy
  • intelligent

Life Expectancy of a Siamese Cat:

15-20 years

Common Health Related Notes for Siamese Cats:

Respiratory problems, bladder stones, and heart complications are among the Siamese cat’s most common illnesses. 

Sphynx Hypoallergenic cat

Android Pie; U+1F408; Emoji SPHYNX

At least, we’ve reached the Sphynx.

This is the cat everyone goes to almost immediately for allergy issues – because they are hairless!! 

While the Sphynx cat may be a good one to get if someone in your home has allergies – it’s probably not for the reason you think! 

A lot of people would assume a Sphynx to be hypoallergenic because they have no hair, but actually, usually, the opposite is true.

The most hair a cat has, the more that is between yourself and the allergens cats produce (because their fur can act as a barrier). 

However – that doesn’t mean the Sphynx doesn’t belong on this list! The Sphynx cat is among those breeds that carry very low levels of the FEL-d1 and FEL-d4 proteins – which means they are great for people with animal allergies! 

Personality Profile of Sphynx Cats:

  • intelligent
  • inquisitive
  • friendly
  • agile, highly active
  • curious

Life Expectancy of a Sphynx Cat:

8-14 years.

Common Health Related Notes for Sphynx Cats:

Heart disease, muscle myopathy, and digestive problems are common for Sphynx cats. 

If you think your pet may be suffering from one of these or any conditions, please bring up your concerns to the vet! You can even ask the breeder or shelter you got your pet from if there are any known illnesses within this pet’s family line.

If you’re interested in learning more about hypoallergenic cats (and how to decide which one is best for you) – the video below is a great learning tool!

 

Related Questions

As you can tell, there is A LOT of information on hypoallergenic cats. It’s a bit of a controversial topic, as truly hypoallergenic pets “don’t exist” – because all pets carry the proteins FEL-d1 and FEL-d4 

It’s just that some pets carry less of those proteins than others – and that is what makes them the best breeds for allergy sufferers. 

⚙️ Can I get a cat if I am allergic to cats?  Absolutely! Just follow this guide on which cat breeds are best for those with allergies.

This is why I’ve included in this guide things about each breed (such as personality traits and life expectancy – to help you choose the cat that’s right for you!

⚙️ How can I get rid of my allergies?  You can’t really “get rid” of your allergy to animals (or any other allergy, for that matter) but there are many things you can do to make living with an allergy easier.

Here are some things you can do to lessen the allergens in your home:

  • frequently clean your cat’s bedding and toys 
  • dedicate one room in your house where the cat is not allowed to go (so you can have some relief if you’re having an allergy flare up)
  • bathe your cat 
  • do any grooming of your cat in an outdoor space (or have someone else do it) 
  • use a vacuum instead of a broom (vacuums will suck up the particles, instead of moving them around the room)

siamese hypoallergenic cat

⚙️ How do you treat cat allergies?

There are a number of ways you can treat your allergies:

  • Wash your hands frequently (especially after handling your pet) 
  • Manage with medicine (such as antihistamines) to relieve swollen and itchy eyes as well as other symptoms
  • Talk to your doctor about possible longer-term solutions like prescription allergy medications or an allergy shot 

If you know you’re in this for the long haul (you love cats and will always have them around your home), you should consult with your doctor about the possibility of taking allergy shots or prescription allergy medications.

The allergy vaccines can help you produce antibodies so that you won’t have the allergic reaction when you’re exposed to the allergens.

It can take almost a year of weekly injections before you convert to monthly doses, and then another 3-5 years of monthly shots before you no longer have allergy symptoms. 

This is ideal for someone who is dedicated to the idea of always having pets in their home and is willing to put in the work and effort. If this sounds like an ideal solution for you, bring it up with your doctor. 

shorthair hypoallergenic cat

 

⚙️ Can you build up an immunity to cat allergies over time?   Allergies can go away because people can build up their immunity to a specific cat or cats.   Allergies happen when your body thinks that the allergen (in this case, pet dander) is a foreign invader and your body is trying to expel the perceived threat. 

Over time, some pet owners may grow accustomed to the allergens of the specific cat they have, and their reactions can lessen or even diminish completely. 

⚙️How do you know if you’re allergic to cats?

You will know if you’re allergic to cats if you experience any/all of the following symptoms while around a cat:

  • coughing
  • hives or rash (usually on chest or face)
  • red, itchy or “puffy” eyes
  • redness of the skin where a cat has licked or scratched you
  • runny, itchy or stuffy nose
  • frequent sneezing

devon rex hypoallergenic cat

 

⚙️ Can you suddenly become allergic to cats?  Unfortunately, yes you can suddenly become allergic to cats.  I know this makes zero sense but there’s a possibility that even if you’ve never experienced allergy symptoms around animals before that it could suddenly become an issue.

Although, people do sometimes grow into allergies as they age or people are also capable of growing out of an allergy as well. 

⚙️ How do you reduce cat dander?

There are quite a few things you can do to significantly reduce cat dander in your home…

  • Brush your cat regularly (or have someone else do this) preferably OUTSIDE your home as to not spread the allergens.
  • Bathe your cat (with shampoo and conditioner meant for cats).
  • Use a vacuum instead of a broom (get a vacuum with a HEPA filter, like this one from Amazon).
  • Use a steamer instead of a mop.
  • Steam clean carpets and upholstery frequently.

⚙️ Are long haired cats better for allergies?  Long-haired cats can be better for allergies because they have more coats of fur (like the Russian Blue having that thick and luscious double coat) longer haired cats can be better for people with allergies because their fur acts like a barrier between you and the FEL-d1 and FEL-d4 proteins on their skin.

 

Sources: 

[1]  Cat Allergies (WebMD) 

[2] The Siberian Cat [Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds] (Medium)

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