According to The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, between 6 and 10 million Americans are allergic to cats or other pets. If you’re an allergy sufferer who also happens to be a cat lover, you may be interested in low-allergen cats. But what makes a cat hypoallergenic? Low-allergen, or hypoallergenic cats, are those that typically produce fewer allergens than “regular” cats. The operative word here is “fewer.” Hypoallergenic cats and hypoallergenic cat breeds are not synonymous with non-allergenic, and no cat breed is completely non-allergenic.
A protein (Fel D1) is the allergen in the cat’s saliva is what causes problems for cat allergy sufferers. Once your cat licks her coat, the allergen-laden spit dries and becomes airborne, seeking a warm home in your nose and sinuses. Some cat breeds produce less of this protein than others, making them hypoallergenic.
Even hypoallergenic cats aren’t completely free of allergens. Photography by Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.
So, a light-colored female cat might work out better for people with cat allergies.
As mentioned, although no cat breed is truly hypoallergenic — all cats produce at least some allergens— there are a few breeds that produce fewer allergens than others. This list of hypoallergenic cats should not be the only thing you consider when researching which breed of cat to adopt, however. Be sure to consider all of each breed’s characteristics to determine which is the best fit for your household.
Siberian cats might not look like hypoallergenic cats, but they actually are! Photography by uzhursky / Shutterstock.
The Balinese, Oriental Shorthair and Javanese are considered hypoallergenic cats. This provides several options for cat lovers who’d like a low-allergen cat with the characteristics of the popular Siamese.
The Devon and Cornish Rex make the list of hypoallergenic cats. Both shed very little fur, which is good news for allergy sufferers.
It’s important to understand that adopting hypoallergenic cats may not be the panacea you’re expecting. Before you adopt a cat, spend some time with her or a cat of the same breed to see if your allergies remain in check.
If you’re getting your cat from a breeder, ask if you can return the cat if your allergies remain a problem (reputable breeders will allow you to do so). Even better, adopt from a rescue organization for the breed; they will always accept returns.
If you’re an allergy sufferer who is serious about adding a cat to your household, read The Sneeze-Free Cat Owner by Diane Morgan. It provides extensive information on allergy management, including natural and homeopathic treatments for cat allergy sufferers.
Plus, read up on how to effectively manage your nasal allergies >>
Thumbnail: Photography by Art-Of-Photo / Thinkstock.
This piece was originally published in 2016.
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