Hypoallergenic Cats

Can cats be hypoallergenic? Are there hypoallergenic cat breeds? We answer your questions.

By Julie Mignery | Posted: August 6, 2014, 12 p.m. EDT

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Hypoallergenic Cat
Siberian cats are some of the least allergy-inducing cats.
Is there anything to be done when your biggest obstacle to feline companionship is allergies? Sharing your life with a cat should be full of purrs and cuddles, but what if it leads to red eyes and sniffles instead? Do cats come in hypoallergenic varieties?

Cats are self-cleaning creatures. They groom themselves by licking their coats with their sandpapery tongues. The saliva that dries and turns to flakes is called dander, and the protein (Fed d 1) contained in the dander is what can cause allergic reactions in humans.

The dander floats in the air and clings to cat hair. Meticulous care of your environment, which for the cat-allergic means taking extra precautions to keep bedding, carpet, upholstery and other surfaces well cleaned and vacuumed, can help, as can bathing your cat or wiping it with a damp cloth.

Perhaps an even better first step, however, would be to seek out a more allergy-friendly cat. No cats are hypoallergenic in the truest sense, but some cat breeds are easier on allergy sufferers than others.
  • Two cat breeds recently made it into the Allergen All-Star Pet Awards, an 11-animal list chosen by independent researchers and scientists. The small-in-stature but big-eared Devon Rex has short, low-shedding curly hair ...
  • While the Javanese Cat/Oriental Longhair is long, lean, quite elegant to look at and sheds less thanks to its lack of an undercoat.
  • Although it did not make the award list, the Siberian also has been recommended for allergy sufferers because its saliva contains very little of the troublesome protein. The Siberian is a larger cat known for its cleverness and calm and affectionate nature.
  • While saliva — and not hair — is the real problem for allergy suffers, the nearly hairless Sphynx may also be a good choice; the breed requires regular bathing from its human to prevent oil buildup on its skin, which will also reduce the incidence of dander.

Read On
See the top hypoallergenic cat breeds of all pets >>
Hear about the team who aimed to create a totally hypoallergenic cat >>
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Reader Comments

Kaitlyn    Lafayette, IN

1/25/2016 9:45:53 PM

I have had sphynxes since I was five years old, and I have to disagree with a few things. They are a bit of work, but not that much more than any other cat, and wet wipe baths work just as well as soap and water. They are the most awsome loving cats, and love to cuddle.

mary kay    League city, TX

1/27/2015 11:57:31 AM

I had 3 indoor cats that I was allergic to and took benadryl and was fine. Now I have 2 indoor cats and take nothing, I outgrew my allergies!

Judy    Tallahassee, FL

8/12/2014 1:33:04 PM

I love cats but was very allergic to them until I began taking allergy shots. I got shots twice a week at first, then worked down to once a week, then twice a month. Now I get 1 shot a month for "maintenance." I have 3 indoor cats now that I adore. The shots changed my life.

Andrea    Brooklyn, NY

8/11/2014 7:58:22 AM

Dander is NOT dried saliva -- it's shed skin cells, as noted by Mayo Clinic (LINK and pretty much every other reputable source. Please correct this basic factual error.

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