Millions of Americans are allergic to cats and furry pets, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. I’m one of these millions of Americans that suffer from cat allergies, but I’ve enjoyed the company of my 2 pet cats Buster (Siberian) and Choppy (Devon Rex) for 4 years now. How is this possible?!
A few years ago, I was chatting with my coworker Jean by the water dispenser, and I mentioned in passing that I never had any cats growing up, because I had asthma. She then said that there are actually hypoallergenic cat breeds, cat breeds that are regarded as “low allergen”. At first I thought she switched from talking about cats to makeup (we cover a wide range of topics during lunch break), but then she went on to explain that these cats are in fact non allergenic cats, and are not likely to cause allergies because they do not produce as much allergens compared to typical cats. She also said that while this does not make the possibility of being allergic to them zero, the chances are greatly reduced. I was intrigued.
My research told me that a protein called “Fel D1” in the saliva of cats is the allergen that tends to spark allergies among many cat owners. Cats tend to lick their coat, and this leaves the allergens on them. As soon as the saliva on their coat evaporates, the particles go into the air, and this finds its way into sinuses and noses, as we breathe in and out. With allergy free cat breeds, this protein is produced in lesser quantities.
Hypoallergenic Cat Facts
- Male cats tend to secrete more allergens
- Male cats that have not been neutered tend to emit more allergens
- Cats with a dark fur have a tendency to give off more allergens
- Kittens or “baby cats” do not produce as much allergens
Given these facts, I figured it’s safe to assume that younger female felines with light fur are best for people that are allergic to cats. My research also informed me of the 7 cat breeds that do not produce as much allergens. I had this list when I visited my local pet shop.
Javanese – These cats have medium to long single coats that do not mat: less fur, less allergens.
Rex – A couple of types of these are Cornish Rex and Devon Rex cats. These cats do not shed as much fur.
Balinese – If you have ever seen a Balinese cat, you will wonder if this breed is really hypoallergenic, but these cats do produce less allergen. These cats are otherwise known as “long-haired Siamese cats”.
Oriental Shorthair – Even though these cats are hypoallergenic, remember to ensure that they are groomed every now and then.
Siberian – These cats have coats that are somewhat long, but the enzymes that are present in their saliva are below average.
Sphynx – These cats are practically hairless!