You really want a pet cat, but even the thought of a feline makes you sneeze and itch. Being allergic to cats can be challenging, especially since they bring so much joy into our homes. They’re friendly and funny pets that can be hard to resist, even if you have allergic reactions to them. Luckily, some hypoallergenic cats are not likely to produce severe allergic reactions compared to other breeds.
Many people assume hypoallergenic means there is no chance of an allergic reaction, but the term actually describes breeds that are unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. Certain cat breeds produce fewer and weaker allergic reactions than others. Surprisingly, a cat’s hypoallergenic qualities are not defined by the length of its hair. So, what causes allergies, and what cats can you adopt to reduce your allergic reactions? We have the answers!
What Are Allergies?
Allergies are when your immune system reacts to something foreign. This can be pollen, venom, food, or pet dander.
Usually, immune systems produce antibodies. But people with allergies produce antibodies that their body sees as harmful, even if they’re not. The severity of this reaction varies from person to person, ranging from minor irritation to suffocation and anaphylaxis.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for allergies, but some treatments and solutions can lessen allergy symptoms.
Common Allergic Reactions in Humans
There are various reactions humans with allergies can have, depending on what is causing the allergy and how they came into contact with it. But here are some common allergic reactions:
- Swelling in the area of contact
- Itchy skin
- Reddening skin
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath and wheezing
Sometimes, people can have more severe allergic reactions that may lead to anaphylaxis. This can cause you to go into shock and is considered a medical emergency. Anaphylaxis is essentially the same as an allergic reaction (with the same symptoms listed above), except it is more severe. Here are some additional signs that you are experiencing this type of allergic reaction:
- Drop-in blood pressure
- Excessive shortness of breath
- Rapid and weak pulse
- Feeling lightheaded
- Skin rash
- Loss of consciousness
Can You Live with a Cat if You Are Allergic?
About 10% of the world’s population is allergic to cats and dogs (be sure to check out our hypoallergenic dog breed guide).
Unless you have severe allergic reactions to cat dander, you can still own a cat if you are allergic. Many people allergic to cats can’t help but adopt one or more kitties despite the symptoms.
If you don’t have a severe allergy to cats, you may find that you can tolerate the symptoms or even take over-the-counter medicine to reduce them further. Before taking any action, be sure to discuss owning a cat with your doctor.
What Does it Mean for a Cat to Be Hypoallergenic?
Many people believe that cat hair causes people’s allergic reactions to furry felines, but it’s actually pet dander. People allergic to cats may also be reacting to a protein called “Fel d 1”, which is found in cat saliva. Some people are even allergic to cat urine.
Because people’s allergies are not caused by a cat’s fur, there’s no such thing as a cat that’s 100% hypoallergenic (including hairless breeds). But there are some breeds of cats that are known to cause less severe allergic reactions. These cats are considered hypoallergenic and are good options for people who experience allergy symptoms when living with kitties.
Can You Reduce Cat Allergies?
While you can’t get rid of cat allergies completely, there are steps you can take to reduce feline-related allergy symptoms. This will make it a lot more tolerable to be around your furry friend without added frustrations.
Vacuum More Often
Regular vacuuming reduces the amount of fur and dander on the floor and carpets. Some people invest in robot vacuums that automatically clean designated rooms. You can even set the vacuums to clean on a weekly schedule.
Clean and Replace Sheets/Bedding More Often
Wherever your cat likes to lounge should be cleaned more often if possible. This will remove excess dander, fur, and saliva from that spot. A few extra cleanings are especially helpful if your cat often lays in your bed or cuddles with you on the couch.
Change the Litter More Frequently
Since allergies can be caused by urine, consider changing out the litter more often to reduce your symptoms. This will also reduce the smell, which is always a good thing. If you remove your cat’s leavings each day, you may notice a reduction in allergy symptoms.
Limit Where Your Cat Can Roam In the Home
You might want to have areas that are off-limits to your cat. This could be your bedroom, an office, or a “man cave” where cats aren’t allowed to spread their dander and fur. This will certainly reduce cat allergies since the cat cannot enter the space and spread its allergens around in the first place!
Don’t Let Your Cat Sleep With You
In the same vein, it could help to not let your cat sleep with you at night. You might want to make your bedroom a cat-free zone completely. The less your cat is in your bed, the fewer symptoms you’ll have.
Wash Your Hands After You Pet Your Cat
When you interact with your cat, make sure to wash your hands after. Avoid touching your eyes and other parts of your body as well. Frequent washing will help you avoid rashes and other skin irritations caused by cat saliva or dander.
Wash Your Cat
You don’t want to over-bathe a cat, as this can dry out any animal’s natural skin moisture. But if you wash your cat once a month or so, you may reduce its dander. Baths can also remove the saliva cats leave on their bodies with all that cleaning they do.
What Are the Best Hypoallergenic Cats for People with Allergies?
We know that even people with pet allergies can be cat lovers. That’s why we did the research and found out which cat breeds are best for those that are allergic. Here are the best hypoallergenic cats!
This “hairless” cat has very little hair on its body. This reduces shedding and also cuts down on cleaning and licking. A lot of people with cat allergies adopt Sphynxes to have fewer allergy symptoms. Keep in mind that the Sphynx has other additional care requirements since it doesn’t have a fur coat. These requirements include regular baths and protection from hot and cold temperatures.
The Sphynx feline is a playful and loyal cat that’s known to be mischievous and curious. It’s a social breed that will never want to leave your side. If you have serious allergies to the point that you can’t have a cat in the same room as you, the Sphynx might not be for you. This is because Sphynx cats hate to be apart from their loved ones.
This breed being on hypoallergenic lists often surprises people because it’s such a large and fluffy feline. But the Siberian is said to have a low level of Fel d 1 in its saliva. This means people with mild allergies can tolerate the Siberian easier than other breeds, despite its long coat.
This is an affectionate and lovable breed that is an excellent addition to any family. A Siberian cat matures slowly, both physically and mentally. As a result, Siberians often have kitten-like attitudes even as adults.
Most cats have multiple coats, including outer fur known as “guard hairs,” a middle layer, and an undercoat. The Cornish Rex only has an undercoat, which is very fine and short. Their fur appears curly.
The Cornish Rex has a characteristically small head, big ears, and long legs. It’s a thin cat with a striking appearance and an even more exciting personality. It’s affectionate and attention-seeking. This is a cat that will follow you from room to room, trying to figure out what you’re up to and how it can get involved!
The Devon Rex has a short, wavy coat that doesn’t shed as much as the average cat. This breed isn’t completely hypoallergenic, of course, but it is a popular choice for people with very mild cat allergy symptoms.
Despite its lack of fur, the Devon Rex has a big personality. Though, this doesn’t mean the Devon Rex is clingy. This friendly and loving cat is fine having space, meaning you can lock the Devon Rex out of certain areas without it getting destructive.
This cat has a very silky and thin coat, meaning minimal shedding even though the Balinese has medium-length fur. While it’s not fur that causes allergies, reduced shedding will often mean less spreading of cat dander and saliva.
The Balinese is a very intelligent cat breed. This is an entertaining cat to have around the home. They are high-energy and playful, always willing to jump around and show off for their owners. The Balinese is known to get along well with people and animals of all ages, making them perfect for most families.
This long and slender cat with short fur is known for its unique face. It has a long nose, almond-shaped eyes, and oversized ears. This breed is known to produce fewer Fel d 1 proteins than other breeds, so they are considered partially hypoallergenic.
The Oriental Shorthair cat is not as loud as the Siamese, but they are still known to love a good conversation. This is a social cat that loves being the center of attraction. In fact, you may find that the Oriental Shorthair needs quite a bit of love and affection. The Oriental Shorthair can get destructive if locked out of the bedroom for the night. If you can’t sleep with a cat, this might not be the breed for you. Try out our CBD calming chews for cats if your kitty gets frisky at night.
The Bambino is a hybrid cat: half Sphynx and half Munchkin. Munchkin cats are known for having very stubby legs, meaning this cat has short legs and a lack of fur. It’s a smaller kitty that doesn’t need a lot of space. They can’t climb and jump as high as other cats. The Bambino is a very social and friendly feline that needs a lot of attention and cuddles to be happy.
The Peterbald is another hybrid cat. This breed is half Sphynx and half Oriental Shorthair. The Peterbald can have fur that ranges from a felt-like coating to completely hairless. Less fur means that they shed dander less often than other breeds. Peterbalds also clean themselves less, meaning not as much saliva on their bodies. But like all the cats on the list, some may still have minor allergic reactions.
The Peterbald is a very loyal cat. The Sphynx and Oriental Shorthair are both very social and clingy breeds, meaning this cat carries that personality trait without question. This cat can’t be left alone for an extended period. Expect long cuddle sessions and daily playtime to keep this kitty happy.
Final Thoughts – Hypoallergenic Cats
You’ll know if you’re allergic to cats if you feel itchy, sniffly, and swollen after interacting with a cat. This can be frustrating if you love cats. Luckily, you can still own a feline (even one with long fur) if you have mild symptoms. There are some things you can do to reduce your symptoms, such as choosing a hypoallergenic breed.
Sphynx, Siberian, Peterbald, and Balinese are popular breed choices for people with allergies to cats. Remember to wash your hands after petting any cat breed, clean your sheets regularly, and schedule weekly vacuum sessions!