Donna has been a cat parent and writer for many years and her passion is to share her love for cats with others.
Can You Be Allergic to Some Cats and Not Others?
Have you ever noticed that when some people encounter cats they start to sneeze, their eyes start to water? And what about guests or family members who can't tolerate being around your cat or you have allergies to your own cat? What is it about cat hair that does this to people? What are we allergic to and are there breeds of cats that are hypoallergenic?
Hypoallergenic cats aka low-allergen cats, these cats have low-allergen qualities that make it possible for most allergy sufferers to encounter a cat or to even own one. And if you do own one it can help prevent those watery eyes and sneezing fits that are associated with cats!
The Scientificness of Cat Dander
What Causes This Allergy?
Some people are allergic to cats but, be rest assured it's a common allergy that cat lovers and non-cat lovers have! What causes this allergy is the protein in the cat’s saliva, skin, and urine resulting in “dander.” Cats get this on their fur during grooming sessions and when the dander dries it becomes airborne and sticks on every surface that your cat encounters.
Allergic Reactions Long After the Cat Has Left the Building
Fel D 1 is why people have allergic reactions long after the cat has left the house! It is the result of their dander which is so small that it remains airborne for an extended period and allergy sufferers can and will inhale this dander!
What Does Science Say About This?
Cat allergies are caused by your body’s immune system that acts like it’s being attacked by these harmless proteins, and this causes inflammation that makes your eyes water and itch, causes nasal congestion and sneezing.
For the most part, when cat "adopting/shopping" keep in mind that not all cats are hypoallergenic, in the past there were some cat breeders that tried to breed 100% pure “hypoallergenic” cats in which they had no success at all because it’s just not possible because of this Fel D1 allergen.
Hypoallergenic Cats Produce Less Dander
However, there are hypoallergenic cats that produce less of this Fel D1 protein and this means less chance of allergy sufferers to be allergic to a specific cat breed! There's a small variety of hypoallergenic breeds to choose from ranging from shorthaired, longhaired, fluffy, and hairless. These breeds don't shed as much (hairless don't at all obviously) It all depends on what you like and how the cat fits into your family and lifestyle!
Hypoallergenic Breeds that Produce Less Dander
12 Cat Breeds That Are Hypoallergenic
- Oriental Shorthair
- Cornish Rex
- ColorPoint Shorthair
- Ocicat Devon Rex
- Russian Blue
Now, let’s look at the most beautiful hypoallergenic cats and the different breeds! Their nature and personalities are wonderful and some love to cuddle, take walks and others love to nap next to you and spend time with their family!
The Burmese Beauty - AKA the Chocolate Siamese
Possible Congenital Deformity
The Burmese may be carriers of a congenital deformity that doesn’t affect the parents, but it will affect the kittens. Additionally, the Burmese ancestry dates back from Southeast Asia, and they were imported to Britain by soldiers who adored them.
Coloring Foundation of "New Breeds"
The Burmese coloring is beautiful and robust and has become the foundation for several “new” breeds such as Bombay, Tonkinese, and Burmilla.
Attributes of the Burmese Cat:
- Super smart
- Very talkative
- Silky coat
- Muscular (beautiful to watch them move!)
- Produce less of the Fel D1 allergy-causing protein
- A highly social cat
- Easy to groom – extraordinarily little grooming is needed for this feline
- An extremely healthy cat
The Gorgeous Siberian Cat
Siberian and Siberian crosses are the best-tolerated cats for those who have allergies because they produce less of the proteins that cause the allergen itself.
Did you know that the Siberian cat is the national cat of Russia and they’re also known as the Siberian Forest Cat, however, they’re usually referred to as the Siberian or the Siberian cat and the Moscow Semi-Long-hair cat?
The Siberian Cats Claim to Fame
Unlike the Rex or Sphynx cat breeds, the Siberian cats claim to fame is due to the belief they produce either none or extraordinarily little of the allergen compared to other cats. Some allergy sufferers have reported having absolutely zero allergic reactions when surrounded by this cat!
Attributes of the Siberian Cat:
- Medium to large cats – considered one of the largest breeds
- Excellent mousers- they no longer must work on farms keeping the Siberian granaries mouse-free
- Fluffy Cats – With dense-lush fur allows this cat to withstand harsh Russian winters.
- Three layers to their coats with a moderately long coat.
- A few personality quirks – they love to play in the water and love taking a full bath!
- Extremely gentle feline – with a great temperament
- Affectionate with its family
The Bengal Cat AKA the Asian Leopard Cat
Bengals Are a Mixed Breed
Bengals are a mix between a domestic cat and an Asian Leopard cat, and they come in a variety of beautiful colors with distinct markings. It's wise to prepare your budget before buying this cat breed because they are well over $2,000 if not more!
A High Energy Cat!
This cat is a moderately healthy breed and is only recommended for families who have experience with large cats who have an incredible amount of energy because Bengal cats are the most energetic of the top five best hypoallergenic cats, therefore, prepare yourself to take this cat for daily walks more than once a day!
Attributes of the Bengal Cat:
- An exceptionally large breed- considered one of the largest in the world today!
- Playful and full of energy by nature loves to run and be walked on a leash
- Extremely Affectionate – a very loving cat
- Athletic – not a lap cat – but enjoys human company
- Doesn’t shed much – they groom themselves, so you will only need to occasionally groom them.
- Their fur has less of the Fel D1 protein allergen
The Wildlike Ocicat
Developed by Accident
Ocicats resemble ocelots, an endangered wild cat that ranges from southwestern Texas to Argentina. The Ocicat is the first domestic breed to resemble a wildcat.
According to ihypoallergeniccats.com:
“This cat was developed by accident in 1964 when a breeder Virginia Daly crossed a Siamese cat with the Abyssinian. The idea was to create Abyssinian – Pointed Siamese. The first generation appeared as Abyssinian but the result of the second generation was a spotted kitten that was named “Ocicat”. The American Shorthair was added to the breeding line giving the breed a silver coat and a larger, more muscular body and the result was a cat that looked like it stepped out of the wild.”
Ocicat Breed - Courtesy of All About Animals Channel
More Like Dogs than Cats
Some people say that Ocicats are more like dogs than cats! They can be trained to fetch, sit & lie down, and do other dog-related tricks.
Attributes of the Ocicat:
- American shorthair – Low in the shedding department
- Extremely affectionate – they love to be a part of family life
- Love games and toys.
- Make great family pets and are devoted to the family
- Big-boned cat
- Extremely strong
- Minimal maintenance in the grooming department
- Healthy – except for some dental issues
- Highly sociable-loving cat
The Striking Russian Blue
British Soldiers Brought This Cat Home
The Russian Blue has been loved for many, many years and it’s believed that British soldiers brought this cat home from the White Sea port town of Archangel (Arkhangelsk) from Northern Russia.
Attributes of The Russian Blue:
- Elegant slender cat
- Graceful, gentle, and sweet
- Gentle with children – a sweet cat that adores people
- Pet and kid-friendly – love to play
- Plush coat – seldom sheds
- Shy around strangers – reserved
- Highly intelligent – Trainable to chase toys, fetch, and chase sunbeams!
- Can be left alone and amuse itself for hours
- Low in the Fel D1 protein causing allergen
Relief for Dander Sensitivities
How to Prevent and Relieve Cat Allergy Symptoms
If you experience mild allergies while in the presence of your cat there are several ways to prevent and/or relieve these cat allergy symptoms.
- Purchase a Pet Air Purifier: helps reduce the protein allergens in the home.
- Use a good brush to keep your feline groomed
- Wash bedding and toys at least once a week
- Make sure to wash your hands after handling your cat
- Refrain from touching your face or eyes after contact with your cat
- Keep cat litter in a well-aired area and wash hands after cleaning it
- Take over the counter allergy relief medications to relieve your symptoms
Now that you have information about hypoallergenic cats, you can make an informed decision on choosing the right cat for our family. One thing to remember is that when you get a hypoallergenic cat it may not be a 100% dander or Fel D1 free.
Do a little research of your own and find out what’s best for your family and remember a healthy cat is a happy cat!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2019 Lillee Rhose
Lillee Rhose (author) from Sparks, NV on December 28, 2019:
Thank you so much, Linda, I am glad you enjoyed it!
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 28, 2019:
Thanks for creating this informative and interesting article. I always enjoy learning more about cats.