How to Choose the Right Breed of Cat for a Household with Allergies?

For many of us, a home without a cat is like a sky without stars. However, for those of us with allergies, the thought of having a furry friend around can be quite daunting. But fear not, allergy sufferers! You can still enjoy the companionship of a feline friend. It’s all about finding the right breed. With an estimated 10% of the population allergic to pets, it’s vital that we talk about hypoallergenic cats.

What is Cat Allergy and What Triggers It?

Before jumping into the breeds, let’s first understand what a cat allergy is. A cat allergy occurs when your immune system reacts to the proteins found in a cat’s skin, saliva, or urine. These proteins are known as allergens. When you have an allergic reaction, it’s because your body is trying to protect itself from these allergens, which it perceives as harmful invaders.

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The most common allergen is the Fel d 1 protein, which cats produce in their saliva and skin. Cats spread this protein around by grooming themselves, and it ultimately ends up on their fur. In addition, it becomes airborne and can be inhaled by people.

It’s important to note that no cat breed is 100% hypoallergenic. The term "hypoallergenic" simply means that the breed is less likely to cause an allergic reaction. So, when choosing a cat for a household with allergies, you’ll want to look for breeds that produce fewer allergens.

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Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds

If you’re an allergy sufferer, here are some cat breeds that might be a good fit for your household. These breeds either produce fewer allergens, or have a coat which helps limit the spread of allergens.

The Balinese

Contrary to what you might think, long-haired cats can be a great choice for those with allergies. The Balinese, for example, is known for its luxurious coat but also for producing fewer Fel d 1 proteins. They are often referred to as the "long-haired Siamese", and they are just as affectionate and playful as their short-haired counterparts.

The Cornish Rex

The Cornish Rex, with its soft, short and curly hair, is another breed that’s a good match for households with allergy sufferers. This breed has only the undercoat layer of fur, which is known as down hair. This means the Cornish Rex sheds less than other breeds, which helps to keep allergens from being dispersed.

Best Practices to Reduce Allergens

Apart from choosing a hypoallergenic breed, there are several practices you can carry out to reduce allergens in your home.

Regular Grooming

Regardless of the breed, regular grooming of your cat can help to reduce allergens. This includes brushing your cat’s fur to remove loose hairs, and bathing your cat to remove dander and saliva, which carry allergens. However, cats aren’t naturally fond of water, so it might be best to leave the bathing to a professional groomer.

Clean Living Environment

Maintaining a clean living environment can also help to reduce allergens. This means vacuuming your carpets and furniture regularly, and washing your pet’s bedding often. An air purifier can also be beneficial in removing airborne allergens.

Understanding Your Allergies

Before bringing a cat into your allergy-prone, it’s essential to understand the severity of your allergies. Not all people react the same to different breeds, so spending time with the breed you’re considering before you adopt can help you gauge whether it’s a good fit for your household.

For those with mild allergies, a hypoallergenic breed and a few lifestyle changes may be enough to live comfortably with a cat. However, for severe allergy sufferers, it’s always best to consult with a health professional before bringing a cat home.

In conclusion, although no cat breed is 100% hypoallergenic, there are certain breeds that allergy sufferers can consider. These breeds produce fewer allergens or have a coat that helps to limit the spread of allergens. By understanding your allergies and taking steps to reduce allergens in your home, it’s possible for you to enjoy the companionship of a feline friend.

Further Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds

In addition to the Balinese and Cornish Rex, there are other hypoallergenic cat breeds that can be a viable option for allergy sufferers.

The Devon Rex

The Devon Rex, a cousin of the Cornish Rex, is another breed known for its hypoallergenic properties. With their big ears and elfin faces, Devon Rex cats have a unique and charming appearance. They also have the same short and curly undercoat as the Cornish Rex, which helps to limit the spread of allergens. Like the Cornish Rex, Devon Rex cats also shed less than other breeds because they don’t have the outer layer of fur that most cats have.

The Russian Blue

Another cat breed worth considering for allergy sufferers is the Russian Blue. This breed is known for its stunning blue-grey coat and bright green eyes. But beyond their good looks, Russian Blues are believed to produce fewer Fel d 1 proteins, which can make them a better fit for people with cat allergies. Despite their somewhat aloof appearance, Russian Blues are known to be very affectionate and loyal, making them excellent companions.

The Siberian

Despite their long and lush coat, Siberian cats are also among the breeds that are believed to produce fewer allergens. This breed is known for its agility, intelligence, and playful nature. Some studies suggest that male Siberians produce fewer allergens than most other breeds, which can make them a good choice for households with allergies.


Living with cat allergies doesn’t mean you have to live without a cat. Thankfully, with the existence of hypoallergenic cat breeds, allergy symptoms can be significantly reduced and managed. Breeds like the Balinese, Cornish Rex, Devon Rex, Russian Blue, and Siberian are all known for producing fewer allergens, which can make them a good fit for households with allergies.

Remember, no cat breed is 100% hypoallergenic, but these breeds are known to cause fewer allergic reactions. It’s also important to consider other factors, such as regular grooming of your cat and maintaining a clean living environment, to further reduce the presence of allergens.

Before making a decision, it’s a good idea to spend some time with the breed you’re considering to see if it’s a good fit. For severe allergy sufferers, always consult with a health professional before bringing a feline friend home.

In the end, the companionship of a cat is a joy like no other, and with the right precautions and the right breed, even those of us with allergies can experience this joy. So, don’t let allergies stop you from finding your perfect feline friend!

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