Are allergies taking their toll? Constant sneezing and itching can deter you from the affection you would like to give your cats. You’re not alone. In fact, people are twice as likely to have allergies to cats than allergies to dogs. Still, furry cats are hard to resist.
If you still want a cat, there are some “hypoallergenic” breeds that are known to produce less allergens than other cats. Note that neither breed is completely anti-allergic, but a different breed option can reduce adverse reactions.
What Causes Cat Allergy?
Have you ever wondered what causes the allergies you suffer from ? It’s not the cat’s fur, it’s actually a protein called Fel D1 found in the cat’s saliva that causes you to sneeze and itch. Once a cat licks its fur, the allergen- laden saliva dries up and expands in the air, increasing the likelihood of a response from your body.
Some breeds of cats produce less of this protein than others, which makes them ideal cats for people with allergies . In addition to the Fel D1 protein, there are other factors that influence a cat’s allergen production:
Factors that affect the production of allergens in cats:
- Males produce more allergenic secretions than females.
- Intact males produce more than castrated males.
- Dark cats tend to produce more than light-colored ones.
- Kittens produce fewer allergens than adults.
Ideal cats for allergy sufferers – TOP 7 breeds
There are a variety of cats that produce fewer allergens and can make it easier to raise and care for pets. This list of “hypoallergenic” cats shouldn’t be the only thing to consider when researching which breed of cat to adopt, but whether you suffer from allergies is an important factor to pay attention to.
The best way to determine if you are sensitive to a cat is to know it. We recommend contacting an animal shelter or rescue group and making an appointment with the pet before making a decision.
The Egyptian cat is famous for having no hair, which gives it a unique look but also some special grooming requirements. If you suffer from allergies, a Sphynx cat could be the perfect cat for you. This is because allergenic proteins in cat saliva cannot get trapped in a Sphynx cat’s fur, because they don’t.
Most cat skins are arranged in 3 layers; a top “guard” hair, a middle “edge” hair and a bottom “down” hair. The Cornish Rex has only the bottom layer of hair down, which means that they are not only very soft but have much less hair than other cats. This means they lose much less hair and are therefore less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
The Devon Rex shares the same coat type as the Cornish Rex, possessing only the soft hair that makes up most of the cats’ undercoats. However, the Devon Rex has even less hair than the Cornish Rex and also sheds very little. As with the Cornish Rex, this means that they are less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
Short-haired Orientals have a short, fine coat that loses little hair. For best results, you should brush your Oriental regularly to help remove loose hairs and further reduce the amount of hair that falls out.
Russian Blues do not have a special coating that makes them hypoallergenic, but they do produce less Fel d1, the protein that cats secrete from their skin, to which many allergy sufferers are allergic.
Often known as the “long-haired Siamese,” the Balinese seems an unlikely candidate for a hypoallergenic breed of cat. But it is one of the few breeds that produce less Fel D1 protein than other cats, causing fewer reactions in allergy sufferers.
This one may surprise you… When you see a Siberian with his beautiful long hair, it can be easy to think that this breed of cat will be a nightmare for allergy sufferers. However, like the Russian Blue and Balinese, the Siberian’s fur produces less Fel d1 than most other breeds, which is why it is considered hypoallergenic.
What about the Bengali?
Many breeders and owners claim that the Bengali has hypoallergenic properties. Although there is no evidence that they produce less Fel d1 protein, the main argument for why they are supposedly less allergenic is that their short, fur-like coat sheds much less hair than the average cat’s coat, making it less likely to cause an allergic reaction
Tips for people allergic to cats
Adopting a “hypoallergenic” cat may not be a total cure, but we hope that it will relax and breathe a little easier. Try spending time with a cat of the same breed that interests you and see if your allergies are kept under control . Once you have a cat, there are steps you can take to minimize allergens, whether you are a hypoallergenic breed or not:
- Frequent bathing and brushing: If you are allergic to cats, it is best to leave the process to a groomer or family member. Research has shown that bathing your cat regularly can help remove up to 84% of existing allergens and reduce future allergen production. Some claim that using distilled water in the bathroom can also reduce allergen levels.
- Wash cat toys and bedding: Washing toys and bedding also reduces the amount of allergens floating around your home. Do this at least once a week.