1 in 10 people suffer from pet allergies, and cats are some of the most common culprits. In fact, cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies. People who enjoy cats but also suffer from a cat allergy may still be able to own a pet cat without the constant sneezing, itchy eyes, and runny nose. There are several breeds of cat that could offer relief to the allergy-stricken cat lover.
There is no such thing as a cat that produces zero allergens. Actually the prefix "hypo-" comes from ancient Greek, and means "less." So in the true sense of the word, a hypoallergenic cat is one that produces fewer allergens than a typical feline.
Some people with extreme allergies may still have some issues even with a "hypoallergenic" cat. However, there are many instances where an individuals who have suffered from cat allergies for years have no reaction at all to certain breeds, while others can treat symptoms with an over-the-counter allergy medicine like Zyrtec or Allegra. If you suffer from cat allergies, there is a good chance that your troubles could be over if you find the right breed.
It's not actually the fur that causes the allergic reaction, but rather a protein in their saliva (Fel D1) that finds its way onto their fur when the cat licks its fur. The saliva dries on the cats fur forming dander. As the cat sheds and moves around the house, it spreads the dander-laden hair throughout the house as well. Cats that have been found to cause fewer problems with allergy sufferers either produce less of the Fel D1 protein, or have coats that minimize the amount of allergy-triggering dander.
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Sometimes referred to as the "longhaired Siamese," you might not guess that his cat is one of the best hypoallergenic breeds around. Balinese cats produce significantly less of the allergy-causing protein Fel D1.
Despite their this double coat of fur, the Russian Blue is an excellent choice for those with feline allergies. Russian Blues are robust, strong creatures with a refined, elegant look and striking green eyes. However, this beautiful breed's most striking characteristic is that it, like the Balinese, produces less of the Fel D1 protein.
The famously-hairless Sphynx offers relief to many allergy sufferers. The reason is likely that they don't have fur to trap the allergens in their saliva, which is then shed throughout the house. These remarkable animals do require frequent baths to remove the buildup of oils on the skin.
A Bengal Cat looks like something straight out of the wild, and you wouldn't be far off in making that assumption. Its distinctive spots and wild look come from its ancestor the Asian Leopard Cat. Breeders crossed the Leopard Cat with domestic cats to produce this exotic-looking breed. Their uniquely fine pelts require little to no maintenance and, as a result, Bengals don't need to groom themselves as often or as long, meaning that their fur contains less of the Fel D1 protein. Also, they don't shed as much as most felines and generally love water, making bath time easier. Bengals do have a wild streak, and are typically recommended for experienced owners.
With their striking markings and vibrant eyes, Siamese are an excellent choice for allergy sufferers. Their short, fine coat sheds very little and requires little maintenance, and leads to less dander.
The Oriental Shorthair comes in more than 300 different patterns and colors, more than any other breed. Oriental Shorthairs shed little and have a very short coat made up of fine hair. Many allergy sufferers report little or no reaction with this breed.
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Most cats have three layers to their fur: the topcoat (or guard hair), the middle layer (or awn hair), and the undercoat (or down hair). The Cornish Rex only has the soft undercoat, and thus sheds much less than other breeds. This lack of shedding means less fur to carry allergens throughout the home.
The Devon Rex is a close relative of the Cornish Rex, and has a similar coat of soft downy hair. The Devon Rex has even less hair than its Cornish relative, and sheds very little of it.
The Javanese is another breed, like the Cornish Rex and Devon Rex, that only has one layer of fur. However, the Javanese has the fine topcoat. Less hair means less dander-carrying fur spread throughout your home.
Also knows as the Siberian Forest Cat, these interesting felines are known for their long, shaggy coats, impressive stature, and intelligence. The Siberian breed, like the Balinese, produces lower amounts of the Fel D1 protein. Some people have claimed that 75% of people with allergies have no reaction to the Siberian. Take note, that this breed can grow to be quite massive, often weighing between 17 and 26 pounds.
The Laperm sports a uniquely curly coat that is thought to help prevent to spread of dander. Also, the Laperm sheds less than many breeds, helping further stop the spread of dander. Many allergy sufferers report fewer issues with Laperm cats.
While the Ocicat may be marked like a wild cat and resembles the Bengal cat, it has no wild DNA in its gene pool. Their short fine coat, helps keep down the amount of dander. This is an intelligent cat that gets along well with other animals.
Closely-related to the Siamese, and is actually a Siamese hybrid. These energetic cats come in 16 different color varieties. With so much DNA in common with the Siamese, it's no surprise that the Colorpoint Shorthair also offers relief to those with cat allergies.