Hypoallergenic Cats: Which Cat Breeds Are Least Irritating?
All Cats Are Irritating . . .
There is no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic cat. The allergens produced by cats that irritate people with allergies are pet dander and saliva. Pet dander is similar to dandruff and is produced by the skin. Of course, saliva is produced by the cat's tongue and is spread to the fur and skin during cleaning. Even hairless cats produce dander and saliva.
Fur can carry the cat dander and saliva so that it comes in contact with people which tends to increase allergic reaction. So, in general, cats that shed less may tend to cause less allergic reactions. That puts hairless breeds such as sphynx on the list of hypoallergenic cats.
Some cat breeds produce less of the particular proteins that cause allergic reactions, so even cats with thick fur can be hypoallergenic compared with other cats.
List of Hypoallergenic Cats
If you are allergic to cats and are looking for breeds that are least irritating, here are the best bets:
- Colorpoint Shorthair
- Cornish Rex
- Devon Rex
- Oriental Shorthair
- Russian Blue
How to Make Your Allergies Less Irritating
No matter what breed of cat you have, you may be able to make it less irritating if you have allergies.
- Keep your cat indoors: When cats go outside, they can pick up pollen and other contaminants from outside and bring them in your house. This can cause allergy symptoms.
- Bathe your cat: This will remove pet dander and saliva, reducing the allergic reaction to your cat. You'll probably want to train a cat to be bathed when it is a kitten. Wiping your cat down with a warm washcloth may be a good alternative to attempting to actually bathe the cat in a sink or tub of water.
- Brush your cat: This will help remove fur and dander and make your cat less irritating.
- Provide lots of fresh water: Since dry skin will lead to more dander production, make sure to provide fresh water at all times. This will make it more likely that your cat will drink and maintain good hydration.
- Sweep and vacuum frequently to remove cat allergens: Frequent cleaning of your house will remove pet dander and fur left behind by your cat, reducing your allergic reaction. A lint roller is another useful tool to remove pet fur from clothes and bedding.
- Make your bedroom a cat-free zone: You can keep your bedroom door closed to keep cats out. Since you spend 8 hours per day or more in your bedroom, this will reduce your exposure to cat allergens. Cats like to sleep on your bed, leaving fur and dander behind. If you have allergy issues, try keeping cats out of your bedroom.
Try Before You Buy
Individual cats vary in the number of allergens they produce. This means that some cats of the same breed may be more compatible with your allergies than others. If possible, try to spend some time with the cat you are considering to see how sensitive you are to that particular cat.
The amount of dander produced by a cat also varies over time- kittens tend to produce less and adults tend to produce more. You can use the tips above to reduce the number of pet allergens that come in contact with you.
How to Find Hypoallergenic Cats
All of my cats are of unknown breed or are simply described by the veterinarian as "domestic short hair." These cats were obtained from shelters or rescued. How can you find cats that are a specific breed that is considered hypoallergenic? You'll need to find a cat breeder that has the breed you are seeking.
You can check for cat breeders in your area using this Fanciers Breeder Referral List (FBRL) from breedlist.com. This provides contact information for pedigreed cat breeders across the United States, Canada, and Worldwide. Cat breeders seem to be less common than dog breeders, so you may need to do a bit of searching to find a breeder and may need to travel to see a particular cat breed in person.
© 2013 Dr Penny Pincher