Have allergies? Then hypoallergenic cat breeds can be the best of both worlds. These fabulous felines make great pets - without the constant sneezing and itching associated with having a cuddle with your nearest feline friend.
You may feel that your allergies are putting you off adopting a cat or become frustrated that you're not able to enjoy the comfort of a pet like other people can. You're not alone! According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (opens in new tab) people are twice as likely to suffer from cat allergies than dog allergies. But this doesn’t have to put you off.
Your allergies are not actually from a cat’s fur. It’s a protein called Fel D1 found in their skin, saliva and urine that hangs around in the air and on the furniture when they lick their fur or shed dander (flakes of skin in their fur). While there is technically no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat, some breeds are less likely to make you suffer as they have less of the allergen protein or don’t shed as much. These are our top “hypoallergenic” cat breeds.
PetsRadar's guide to hypoallergenic cat breeds
Known as the long-haired Siamese, this elegant breed shares many of the same features including stunning blue eyes and a beautiful, soft coat. While they do need weekly brushing, the Balinese has a single-layer coat and so does not shed a lot. It also produces less of the Fel D1 protein than other cats so you can spend more time playing with this fun-loving feline. Similar to the Siamese, the breed is a curious, playful and chatty companion.
While cats can have up to three layers of fur, the Javanese is another breed with no undercoat (just one layer), which means it sheds less and is more allergy-friendly. The long-haired breed is also similar to the Siamese. The playful cat will follow you around wherever you go trying to be helpful. While not as vocal as the Siamese they still like to talk and they’re intelligent cats, which makes them good with children.
3. Devon Rex
Nicknamed Pixie cat because of its big ears, large eyes and elfish face, you’ll have lots of fun with this mischievous and affectionate breed – even if you suffer from allergies. While the Devon Rex’s coat has three layers and is soft and curly, they are short-haired cats, which means they have less fur than other breeds and they shed less so you’ll be able to play with them and receive lots of cuddles. Playful, fun-loving and curious they love to spend time with their owners.
4. Cornish Rex
The Cornish Rex is another short-haired “hypoallergenic” breed that doesn’t shed as much as other cats, although you will need to bathe them as oil does build up on their skin. You’ll want this affectionate cat on your lap as its single-layer coat is soft like suede and will keep you warm with its cuddles. But the slender and athletic cat is also a social, active and inquisitive breed. They love to play and leap – you can even train them to fetch.
It may surprise you that the semi-long-haired Siberian is often referred to as a “hypoallergenic” breed. While it has a thick, three-layered coat adapted for the Siberian climate, this affectionate cat has low levels of the Fel D1 protein so you can give it plenty of snuggles – although it will still need regular brushing throughout the week. The Siberian is an agile and playful breed and not only loves its owner, but also gets on well with other cats, dogs and children.
It’s no surprise that the sphynx is on this list. This unique breed is hairless making it super allergy-friendly. But while its lack of coat means it won’t need brushing, the breed still needs frequent baths or sponging down to stop oil build up on its skin. The Sphynx may not be furry, but it still enjoys hugs and you will too, as their skin is warm making them like your own personal hot water bottle. Other than affection, the breed is very lively and loves attention, but can also be a little mischievous.
7. Russian Blue
Easily identifiable with its soft, silvery grey coat and piercing green eyes, the Russian Blue is also allergy-friendly. Despite its dense double coat adapted for the harsh climate in Russia, the short-haired breed does not shed a lot and has low levels of the allergen proteins making it a great choice for a pet. They’re not only loveable, but intelligent and playful. They’ll come greet you at the door, sit with you and may even learn to play fetch.
8. Oriental Shorthair
The Oriental Shorthair has fine, silky fur, which can be short or long and comes in a multitude of colours. This breed doesn’t need a lot of grooming and sheds very little, making it a perfect pet for allergy-sufferers. This attention-seeker has lots of energy and loves to entertain so it’s not a good idea to leave it home alone for too long and you’ll want to make sure it has plenty of toys to play with.
This short-haired cat stands out with its thick, spotted coat as it looks like a wildcat. Not only beautiful, its coat doesn’t shed as much as other breeds, making it easier to keep your allergies at bay. While they’re sweet-natured and affectionate, the breed is also very active and energetic so will want space to climb, jump and run around, but they’ll be lots of fun as pets. They like company as they will want to play, but if there are kids in the house it's best to introduce them as kittens.
Known for its curly coat, the LaPerm is another surprise on the list of “hypoallergenic” breeds. Despite its fluffy coat, this breed is quite low-maintenance, doesn’t shed much and its curls keep in the dander, making it easier on the eyes and nose. The loveable breed makes a wonderful lap cat, but is also quite active and when you’re up and about will follow you around. They make good family pets and get on well with children and cat-friendly dogs. Just be careful not to let younger children pull at its curls.
Its inclusion is probably less of a surprise than the others on this list. Another shorthaired breed, Burmese cats shed very little – they’re one of the world’s lowest-shedding breeds, in fact – making them an ideal proposition for allergy sufferers. This is just as well, as they’re incredibly fond of humans, so they’ll be spending a lot of time in your immediate vicinity. Obviously, it’s not guaranteed that you won’t react to them, but as far as hypoallergenic cat breeds go, they definitely represent a low-risk option in our opinion.
If you were worried that some of the breeds on this list were a bit obscure, here’s a much more recognizable hypoallergenic cat breed for you. While their fur isn’t as short as that of the Burmese, they produce less of the Fel D1 protein, which can cause allergies in humans to flare up.
Moreover, they shed a lot less than other breeds, which makes them ideal for people who are considered low to medium on the hypoallergenic scale. Their fur length probably means they aren’t the most hypoallergenic cat breed around, but they’re definitely a viable options for those whose allergies perhaps aren’t the most pronounced.
13. Selkirk Rex
Sharing a similar piercing gaze to the Devin Rex and the Cornish Rex, the Selkirk Rex stands out by being a lot more laid-back than its counterparts. Like many of the other breeds on this list, it sheds at a minimal rate, and weekly brushing of their fur to remove dead hair will further reduce their allergy-inducing potential.
Their full hypoallergenic potential depends on whether yours is of the long or short haired variety (obviously, the short-haired breeds are better for allergy sufferers), but in the grand scheme of things, the chances are that you will be okay with them.
The Ocicat may resemble a wild cat, but these domestic felines are the result of inbreeding between Abyssinian, Siamese, and American Shorthairs. Because of this, Ocicats tend to be good for people with allergies, as their short hair and hypoallergenic properties make them ideal pets for feline fans with the sniffles. Ocicats are quite big cats that can even be taught to walk on a leash, and their spotted coats don't just look cool - they're great for people with allergies!
15. Colorpoint Shorthair
A variant of the Siamese breed, Colorpoint Shorthairs are a cross of the popular breed with the equally popular American Shorthair. Allergy sufferers will be happy to learn that Colorpoint Shorthairs share similar characteristics to the Siamese: they don't shed a ton, so they'll be easy on your sinuses. they can be very chatty and friendly, and make great pets.
Beat the allergies
While choosing a “hypoallergenic” cat breed will give you the best chance of avoiding the sniffles, there are other things you can do to help. First, you’ll want to keep your house clean and always have your vacuum to hand. Keep the windows open, close off certain rooms to your pets, bathe them at least every two weeks and make sure someone (probably not you) is brushing them and getting rid of the excess hair. Hopefully with the help of our list, you can find the perfect allergy-friendly cat for you.
Zara is Editor on bookazines and covers a range of topics from cookery to travel and animals. Her latest first edition, What Your Dog Wants You To Know, is the ultimate guide to understanding your dog’s body language.
Former editor of World of Animals magazine, she has over 8 years of experience in publishing inspiring children and adults about the wonders of the animal kingdom as well as teaching them about their pets. She also has over 5 years experience working with vets, wildlife experts and animal behaviourists in her comms roles for various animal charities.
A keen animal lover, Zara can often be found researching her next wildlife destination to travel to. Having just moved into a bigger house she is currently looking at which dog and cats breed would suit her new family so she can fill her house with pets.
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