Do hypoallergenic cat breeds exist? Best cat breeds for allergy sufferers

If you or someone in your family suffers from an allergy to cats, you know that symptoms can be extremely unpleasant. Allergic reactions to felines are common – one study estimates that 10-20% of the world population suffers from cat-related allergies. So, if you or someone you know falls into this category, is it possible to be around cats or even welcome a cat into your home? Does a hypoallergenic cat breed exist? Which cat breeds are best for allergy sufferers?

Cat allergies 101

If your nose runs and your eyes water or you start sneezing and wheezing after petting or playing with a cat, you likely have a cat allergy. Cats produce multiple allergens found on their fur and skin and in their saliva. The majority of people with cat allergies are actually allergic to the protein Fel d 1, which is contained in cat saliva. When a cat licks their fur and that saliva dries and becomes airborne, you breathe it in and experience a reaction.

Cat allergy symptoms range from mild to severe depending on your sensitivity and exposure to allergens, which may also influence how quickly you develop symptoms. Highly sensitive people can develop symptoms within minutes of touching a cat or entering a house with a cat. Symptoms can include:

  • Sneezing or a runny or stuffy nose
  • Facial pain from nasal congestion
  • Coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and wheezing
  • Watery, red, or itchy eyes
  • Skin rash or hives
  • Swelling around eyes and nose

Do hypoallergenic cats exist?

While there are a few cats that are known to be much less irritating for people with allergies, there is no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic cat.

All cats produce the Fel d 1 protein that contributes to allergic reactions in people. However, some cats produce and shed less of this protein than others. Additionally, veterinarian Dr. Tarina Anthony notes that female cats tend to produce less Fel d 1 than males, and neutered males less than intact males. So, when you hear a cat referred to as “hypoallergenic,” they are in reality only “allergy-friendly” and may be slightly less unpleasant for allergy sufferers to be around.

Allergy-friendly cat breeds

Here are some cat breeds that are low-allergen and low-shedding that could be a great fit for people with allergies.



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