It’s a frustrating conundrum to want only love and companionship from a cat and to get instead watery eyes, a scratchy throat, and a series of sneezes. But there’s hope yet for cat-loving allergy sufferers! Low allergen - or “hypoallergenic” - cats produce less of the protein that is responsible for allergic reactions.
This protein, FelD1, is found in a cat’s saliva, and when a cat licks their coat, the protein attaches itself and then dries. When the cat sheds, the allergen becomes airborne in the form of dander, and therein lies the problem for allergy sufferers. While no breed is completely allergen free, some breeds produce less of this pesky allergen and can make a great pet for those plagued with allergies.
Cat breeds that have short coats can also be more tolerable than longhair breeds that shed more and introduce lots of allergens into the air. However whether or not one of these breeds will work in your home will depend on the severity of your allergies and your unique reaction to the cat. Always test your reaction before bringing a cat home for good.
In general, female cats produce fewer allergens than males, so you may want to choose a female from one of the following breeds.
Unlike other longhair breeds, the elegant Balinese has a single coat and produces fewer allergens.
Both of these breeds are often given the hypoallergenic stamp of approval when in fact neither quite fits the bill. However, the Devon Rex and Cornish Rex have unique curly coats that may shed less than other breeds, making the presence of allergens less obtrusive.
The silver-blue Korat has a short, close-fitting coat that doesn’t become airborne when stroked - a quality that makes this cat tolerable to many allergy sufferers.
These fluffy Russians often have a lower than average occurrence of the protein FelD1, however this can vary from cat to cat so be sure to test your reaction to the Siberian you want to bring home.
This smooth, naturally hairless breed can be a good fit for allergy sufferers as there are no airborne allergens from flying fur, and the reactive chemical in their saliva is said to be lower than many breeds.
As with other shorthair breeds, the Oriental Shorthair has a coat that sheds less and introduces less dander into the air.