Although some people think that there are cats that are hypoallergenic, scientifically speaking, no absolutely hypoallergic cat exists. However, there are certain breeds that trigger less of an allergic response than other.
In fact, cats can trigger an allergic reaction both directly and indirectly.
There are many different factors that can trigger a cat allergy, and there are solutions to help cat lovers do help resolve this problem
Cat Allergies: Causes and Symptoms
According to The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, “An allergy is a chronic condition involving an abnormal reaction to an ordinarily harmless substance called an allergen”. However, cats do not always cause allergies so it is essential to consult an allergist to diagnose what might be causing possible symptoms of an allergy.
Although many people think that cat hair is responsible for allergies to felines; the actual culprit is a protein called Fel d 1 found in the cat’s saliva, the dried flakes of skin (dander), the sebum (an oily secretion of the sebaceous gland) and to some extent, urine. Even if you are not allergic to cats, the cat can still cause allergies indirectly since a cat may have allergens such as pollen and mold in its fur.
An allergy can range from minor to quite severe. Allergic reactions to cats are usually characterized by sneezing, watery eyes, coughing, rashes, itching, chapped lips, sore throat, or even an asthmatic attack. In some cases, an allergic reaction can be life-threatening, so some people try hard to avoid cats.
However, if you are a true feline aficionado, there are possible ways to have a cat even if you are allergic to them. There are different cats for people with allergies that tend to cause fewer allergic responses, and ways in which to minimize these reactions.
Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds
Although controversy remains over whether there are any cats that are entirely hypoallergenic, studies show that cats with low level of the protein Fel d 1 are less likely to trigger allergic reactions in humans. For people with allergies who long to have a cat, these twelve cat breeds are considered to be relatively hypoallergenic.
- Siberian Cats
Siberian Cats, also known as “Siberian Forest Cats” and “Moscow Semi-longhairs” are domesticated cats originating from Russia. Their size varies, depending on their gender, from medium to large. There are different colors of Siberian Cats ranging from a variety of tabby colors to red, black and other solid colors.
Siberian Cats must be groomed at least once a week even though they have less of the Fel d 1 protein. However, there are other substances in their coats that might still cause the owner an allergic reaction.
Siberian Cats carry less of a chance of triggering allergies compared to other breeds. However, the Siberian breed may be prone to health problems such as Heart disease, (HCM), Kidney disease (PKD), Hereditary Cancer, Urinary Tract disorders (FLUTD) and Gum disease. Their average lifespan ranges from about 10 to 18 years of age, depending on their health and diet. Although keeping their vaccinations up to date is essential; to avoid over-vaccinating, titering (a test to gauge immunity to disease) is highly recommended.
• Devon Rex
The Devon Rex is a short tightly-curly coated cat that originated from England. Devons are out-going “personality” plus cats. They are curious, mischievous cats that want to get into everything. They have enormous ears. Although the Devon Rex is considered to be one of the most hypoallergenic cats, a prospective buyer should handle one before purchase.
The Devon Rex is a relatively low- maintenance cat. However, this breed does carry health risks such as Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, hereditary myopathy (affecting muscle function), Patellar luxation and sunburn due to their lack of hair.
Devon Rex coats come in a rainbow of colors, and all color combinations are now accepted for show status.
The Devon Rex has a hearty appetite. Because this breed is prone to obesity, it is essential to feed them a diet that is very low in carbohydrates consisting of high- quality grain-free meat protein.
The Abyssinian cat is a medium-sized cat whose full origin remains a mystery. The breed was named after Abyssinia, now Ethiopia. The most striking characteristic of the Abyssinian cat is its beautifully ticked, short coat. The breed comes in a variety of colors; the most common ones are the ruddy and the red. They carry a low level of Fel d 1.
Abyssinians are famous for being extremely intelligent playful and extroverted. The breed is generally not well known as a lap cat. They thrive on attention and interactive play. The health risks facing the Abyssinian are periodontal disease, (Gingivitis), neurological problems that can lead to excessive self-grooming, Luxating patella (knee problems), Retinal atrophy (which can lead to blindness), Kidney failure and Pyruvate kinase deficiency (PKD).
Abyssinians are low-maintenance cats that mainly require claw clipping and minimal grooming. To prevent dental disease, brushing their teeth daily and regular veterinary dental care is essential. To keep them in tip-top physical condition, feed them a low-carbohydrate, high-quality meat protein diet is necessary.
The Balinese cat is also known as long-haired Siamese. These cats have a long silky coat that comes in a variety of pointed colors. The breed is very active, sociable, playful and loving. They can be very chatty and vocal. Just like their Siamese cousins, they may be cross-eyed and have a kinked tail. The Balinese is known to produce less Fel d 1 than other cat breeds; thus fewer antigens with which to contend.
The Balinese requires considerable personal attention and mental stimulation. If they become bored, they can be quite mischievous and even destructive. Since the Balinese coat is long and silky, it requires minimal grooming. Daily tooth brushing is essential, and regular veterinary dental care is necessary to avoid dental disease.
Health risks for Balinese cats are respiratory problems, bladder stones, glaucoma, and retinal atrophy, heart disease, cancer, and periodontal disease. However, healthy Balinese, if well cared for may enjoy a lifespan of over 20 years.
• Oriental Shorthair
The Oriental Shorthair cat developed in England during the 20th century. They were bred to have the svelte and sleek body shape of a Siamese but to come in a variety of coat colors. Siamese and domestic Shorthairs were used to create this stunning breed. With careful breeding, these cats now have the body type of a modern Siamese, with huge triangular shaped ears set on a triangular head, and have large almond-shaped eyes. The breed comes in over 600 different colors. Many owners report them to be “hypoallergenic.”
These are brilliant and affectionate cats. They demand attention or they can become bored and depressed. Interactive play at least twice a day is essential for these cats. They have excellent appetites, but their intake should be monitored closely otherwise they can become obese. A grain-free, high-quality meat protein diet is essential for Oriental Shorthair cats.
Health risks for the Oriental Shorthair breed are periodontal disease, renal disease, liver disease, and cancer and heart conditions. Healthy Oriental Shorthair’s lifespan can reach up to 18 years-of-age.
If you want a loyal and devoted kitty that is considered hypoallergenic, the Oriental Shorthair may be your perfect cat.
The Bengal cat was developed by crossing small Asian Leopard cats with domestic cats. Although it is a domestic cat, the Bengal looks like an exotic jungle cat. However, if you are looking for a snuggly kitty, this is not a gentle lap cat.
Bengals require a great deal of personal interaction, mental stimulation and exercise. They love to climb up to high places, play fetch and can enjoy playing in water. Bengals are athletic and affectionate felines. Their tight, short coat requires only weekly grooming, brushing teeth and weekly nail trimming.
Although a grain-free canned food diet is appropriate for Bengal cats, some Bengals prefer eating raw meat. There are commercially prepared safe raw diets available for cats that contain all the necessary nutritional ingredients. However, very safe handling of raw meat diets is essential
The health risks for Bengals are possible hereditary conditions such as polycystic kidney disease and they may be prone to infectious peritonitis, and protozoal infections. The Bengal breed is considered by breeders and owners to be relatively hypoallergenic.
The LaPerm is a highly intelligent cat. They are curious, loving and affectionate. The LaPerm sports a curly coat that ranges in length comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns. What is fascinating about this breed is LaPerm kittens are born bald or with straight coats, which become curly as they reach maturity.
The LaPerm’s curly coat traps dander and loose hair that helps to reduce shedding. This may help to keep allergens at bay. Many LaPerm owners report no problems living with these cats. However, since no cat is wholly hypoallergenic, it is suggested that visiting a cat show or a LaPerm breeder to hold one, before purchasing or adopting a LaPerm.
The LaPerm is an easy keeper. As part of their regular care, they require weekly grooming, nail trimming ear cleaning and brushing teeth daily. Although the LaPerm doesn’t have any genetic risks for any specific medical conditions, regular veterinary Wellness checkups and dental cleaning is highly recommended.
- Russian Blue
The Russian Blue has sweet, gentle and playful disposition. Some Russian Blues even enjoy playing “fetch”. Although they love their owners, these cats aren’t clingy. Russian Blues tend to be quite shy and are not very fond of strangers.
These magnificent cats sport a double, plush coat tipped with silvery guard-hairs. They have large, triangular shaped ears and brilliant green eyes. The Russian Blue requires brushing or combing once or twice a week. In the spring they require more frequent grooming when they are shedding out their winter coat. Although some people suggest the breed for people with cat allergies, it is suggested to visit a cat show or breeder to hold a Russian Blue to test for any allergic reaction.
Although the Russian Blue is a healthy cat with no genetic risks for any specific medical conditions, the breed may develop bladder stones. To reduce the risk of stone formation, it’s highly advisable to keep fresh, cool water available for them at all times, and to feed only a wet, grainless diet.
- Cornish Rex
The Cornish Rex originated in England. The breed was first imported to the United States in 1957. This is a medium-sized cat with tightly curled fur. The Cornish Rex got its name because its coat resembled that of the Rex rabbit.
These stunning cats have large ears and huge eyes. The Cornish Rex is a highly intelligent and playful cat, needing interactive play and mental stimulation. They are even-tempered cats and make delightful pets for families with children.
To prevent damaging their curly, silky coat, grooming them is not recommended. Weekly nail trimming and occasional cleaning the ears is all the grooming that is required.
Generally a healthy breed, some health risks for the Cornish Rex may be heart disease and sunburn due to lack of hair.
Some claim the breed is hypoallergenic due to their fur texture. However, people with cat allergies report that they tolerate living with a Cornish Rex. Since there are no cats that are entirely hypoallergenic; before purchasing or adopting one, visiting a cat show or breeder to hold one is highly recommended.
The Burmese breed originated in Burma. The first Burmese came to the United States in 1930. These cats have a short, silky-textured, close-lying coat requiring little grooming. Although they come in many coat colors, the only colors that are recognized by the Cat Fancier’s Association are sable, champagne, platinum and blue.
The Burmese are cuddly cats that love sitting in laps. They are highly intelligent, chatty cats and interested in what is going on in their environment. Since they can get lonely when no one is around, it’s best to have another feline companion with whom they can hang out.
The breed requires little grooming. Brushing and rubbing a chamois cloth over the cat’s coat is sufficient, along with nail trimming and brushing teeth.
Although the Burmese are a generally healthy breed, they may be at risk calcium oxalate stones in the urinary tract, glaucoma or feline hyperesthesia syndrome (an increased sensitivity to touch or painful stimuli).
Although no cat breed is entirely hypoallergenic, the Burmese does produce fewer allergens than many other cats so may be more suitable for people allergic to cats.
Although the Ocicat doesn’t carry any wild genes in its background, its appearance is certainly wild. Its tight, short coat is completely covered in spots. This beautiful, striking cat was the result of crosses between the Abyssinian, the American Shorthair, and the Siamese.
The Ocicat is an extremely affectionate and intelligent cat that bonds tightly with its owner. These cats thrive on intellectual challenges and love learning tricks. They also love climbing onto high places. Cat trees and wall shelves are ideal resources for these kitties.
Grooming an Ocicat is a snap. Run a rubber brush over their coat; brush their teeth, trim the nails and those tasks are finished!
The Ocicat is a healthy breed. However genetics may play a part in risks to their health. These risks are liver and renal conditions, periodontal disease and heart disease.
Since the Ocicat carries lower levels of Fel d 1, the breed is considered by many to be hypoallergenic.
- Colorpoint Shorthair
The Colorpoint Shorthair is an extrovert with an affectionate, sweet and loyal disposition. If you must have a lap cat, the Colorpoint fits the bill. Colorpoints can chatter endlessly, letting the owner know what’s on their mind. They are highly intelligent and need mental stimulation and interactive play.
Colorpoints come in 16 distinct point colors which include red point, cream point, chocolate, and lilac point.
Easy to groom, to remove any shedding hair, the Colorpoint should be groomed twice a week.
The Colorpoint breed is generally healthy; however they do carry a genetic risk for kidney disease, heart conditions, gingivitis, and lower urinary tract disease.
Although there aren’t any cats that are 100 percent hypoallergenic, this breed is considered a good choice for people who don’t have severe allergies.
Solution to Cat Allergy
If you are allergic to cats, there are several solutions to help alleviate symptoms.
Taking an antihistamine such as Diphenhydramine may help to relieve allergy symptoms. Although this is an over-the-counter medication, talk to your doctor about what type and dosage he/she recommends. There are also antihistamines that require a prescription, so ask your doctor which medication will be most effective.
- Allergy Shots
You can also get allergen immunotherapy or hypo-sensitization where exposure to larger amounts of allergen is injected under the skin altering the immune response. This can be done either orally or sublingually. Allergists can also offer allergy vaccine as well.
- Keeping Your Cat Clean
Since cats carry allergens in their fur, brush and try to bathe the cat every four weeks. High quality and safe commercial cat shampoos such as Whisker City Hypoallergenic Tearless Cat Shampoo, or baby shampoo are excellent choices. Be sure to rinse the cat thoroughly, followed with towel-drying.
Pet MD has excellent suggestions and information about how to thoroughly clean your environment.
Tips for People Who Are Allergic to Cats
- Female cats are preferred since they produce a lower level of Fel d 1 than do male cats.
- Have your cat neutered since neutered male cats produce lower allergens than intact males.
- Always wash your hands with soap after handling a cat.
- Clean your carpets and wash pillows to keep allergens at bay.
- Air purifier systems are great for minimizing allergy risks.
- Groom your cat regularly.
- To prevent infections, keep your cat safe from injury.
- Always use a face mask when cleaning.
- Regularly clean the filter of air conditioning units.
- Wash your bedding in hot water.