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The 8 Best Cats for People with Allergies

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As many as three in ten Americans suffer from pet allergies. Of those, cat allergies are some of the most common — nearly twice as common as dog allergies.

What makes someone allergic to cats?

Allergies are the immune system’s response to otherwise harmless substances called allergens. A person with cat allergies has a hypersensitive immune system that triggers a reaction when the body encounters a cat.

While many people think that a cat’s fur is the primary allergen, the allergic potential of cats isn’t actually related to their fur

Instead, it’s caused by the presence of a protein (Fel d 1) in the animal’s saliva, dander, and urine. Although fur itself is not an allergen, it can collect saliva, dander and urine (in addition to other allergens like dust and pollen), which means that cats with less fur may be less likely to collect allergens and easier to keep clean.

As a quick aside — Cats themselves can even suffer from allergies, often related to their food consumption. If you’re concerned about that, take a look through Allergies & Probiotics guide when you’re finished reading this.

Is there such a thing as a hypoallergenic cat?

All breeds of cats produce some level of Fel d 1, which means there are no truly hypoallergenic cats. However, there are some breeds that seem to cause fewer symptoms than others. 

Here are the breeds that have been known to cause reduced allergic reactions in humans:

Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds   

Sphynx

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Known for its hairlessness, the Sphynx cat was first bred in the 1960s. Many frequently consider the Sphynx cat less allergenic because it does not have any fur to trap allergens. Sphynx cats are famously extroverted creatures, exhibiting friendliness toward strangers and affection for their parents. Aww.

Siberian

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At first glance, Siberian cats might seem like they wouldn’t be well-suited for pet parents with allergies, but they actually shed less, have less dander, and produce lower levels of Fel d 1 compared to other breeds, which may make them a solid choice for allergy sufferers.

Russian Blue

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Despite its name, the Russian Blue is a cat whose fur varies from a light silver to a dark grey. Russian Blues are short-haired but have double coats that have given them a reputation for density and lushness. Like Siberian cats, Russian Blues are believed to produce less Fel d 1 and also shed much less than their thick coats would suggest. Personality-wise, Russian blues are pleasant companions who develop close relationships with their parents.

Balinese

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Also known as the “long-haired Siamese,” Balinese cats are good candidates for pet parents with allergies because they produce less of the Fel d 1 protein than other breeds. This Balinese is also notable for its single coat and relatively mild shedding compared to other long-haired cats, meaning it spreads less dander, too. 

Javanese

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While most cats have three layers of coat (top layer, middle layer, and undercoat), Javanese cats have only a fine top coat. Because these cats have less hair, they won’t shed as much and have been known collect and spread fewer allergens.

Oriental Shorthair

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The Oriental Shorthair is part of the Siamese family of cats. With more than 300 colors and patterns, Oriental Shorthairs have the largest range of physical characteristics of all cat breeds. They also have a short, fine coat. Because of this, pet parents of Oriental Shorthairs report these cats spread fewer allergens around the house.

Devon Rex

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The Devon Rex has several unique physical characteristics: large ears, a lightweight coat and hair that grows in curls and waves like a poodle. Devon Rexes have a coat composed of soft down, with very little hair as a top coat, which means these cats don’t shed as much as hairier breeds — ergo fewer saliva-coated particles hanging around in the air.

Cornish Rex

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Closely related to Devon Rexes, Cornish Rex cats also only have a single coat of fur, which means they shed less than other breeds. Combined with frequent grooming, their lack of shedding reduces the buildup of dander and saliva on these cats, which in turn lessens the possibility of provoking an allergic reaction.

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