Are Hypoallergenic Cats Real? A Deep Dive Into Feline Allergens

Denise Lessard
Authored by Denyse Lessard
Denyse is an in Chinese medicine, homeopathy, and naturopathy, and the formulator behind most of Zumalka's natural health products for pets.

If you're like most pet parents, you've probably wondered if hypoallergenic cats exist. People with allergies are often advised against getting a cat because it might aggravate their condition.

In this blog post, we'll explore whether truly hypoallergenic cats exist. We'll also examine so-called hypoallergenic cat breeds to see if they produce fewer allergens compared to other cats.

Let's dive in and find out!

Some People are Just Prone to Cat Allergies

Some People are Just Prone to Cat Allergies - woman sneezing with a cat sleeping nearby

Unfortunately, some people are not compatible with cats. Contact with felines often triggers respiratory and skin allergies. However, some cats are considered more hypoallergenic because they are "friendlier" to people with allergies.

You can be just as susceptible to dog allergies as to cat allergies. This means that various animals, not just cats, can trigger sniffles, teary eyes, or itching. Sadly, cats are often seen as the "worst" culprits when it comes to triggering allergies, especially the more furry breeds.

However, this misconception should be corrected. It's not true that cats are the worst offenders. In reality, the severity of allergic reactions can vary greatly depending on the individual and the specific animal.

What is the Fel d 1 protein and how is it connected to cat allergens?

The Fel d 1 protein is a major allergen for many people who are allergic to cats. Understanding its origins and behavior can help in managing cat-related allergies. This glycoprotein is primarily secreted by the sebaceous glands (also known as "oil glands") and often accumulates in cat hair.

Additionally, Fel d 1 is present in a cat's saliva and urine, contributing to its widespread distribution.

Interestingly, domestic cats have much higher levels of the Fel d 1 protein compared to feral cats or wild feline species. Research shows that intact male cats tend to produce more Fel d 1 compared to female cats, which could be influenced by hormonal differences.

Additionally, spayed female cats tend to produce lower levels of the Fel d 1 protein compared to their non-spayed counterparts. Similarly, neutered male cats produce lower levels of this protein compared to non-neutered males.

What are the possible allergic reactions that you can get from cats?

Cat allergies are mainly divided into three kinds: respiratory allergies, skin allergies, and indirect allergies. We will discuss each of these in more detail.

Respiratory allergies:

Rhinitis is a respiratory allergy triggered by the Fel d 1 protein that cats produce. Symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose, and nasal congestion. Additionally, this allergic reaction can cause eye reddening, leading to a condition called rhinoconjunctivitis.

Similarly, asthma involves the tightening of the muscles that line the airway. Although there is no direct proof that contact with cats can set off asthma, the Fel d 1 protein can intensify asthma attacks.

Both conditions highlight the significant impact that cat allergens can have on respiratory health.

Skin allergies:

Cat allergies can affect the skin, particularly in individuals with allergies or pre-existing skin conditions. One prominent effect is the aggravation of atopic dermatitis also known as eczema. Although there is no direct link between cat fur allergies and atopic dermatitis, research indicates that cat allergies can exacerbate this condition.

Indirect allergies:

Allergens can be indirectly transmitted to people, especially during the spring and autumn when cats shed more frequently. Studies show that clothing can inadvertently carry these allergens, with those from cats with dense or curly coats being particularly persistent.

This indirect transmission can significantly affect individuals sensitive to cat allergens.

Can cat allergy sufferers be susceptible to life-threatening conditions?

The short answer is yes. Very young children and others with allergies can be prone to anaphylaxis when exposed to feline allergens. This severe health issue is characterized by symptoms such as low blood pressure, a weak yet rapid pulse, dizziness, and fainting.

While the effects of anaphylaxis are indeed alarming, it is crucial to remember that this reaction is quite rare.

What are the other key factors that can make you allergic to some cat breeds?

Exposure to Fel d 1, a protein produced by cats, is the primary reason some people develop allergies to felines. However, genetic predisposition and a low immune response to allergens also play significant roles.

Therefore, we should not blame certain cat breeds for allergic reactions in humans, as multiple factors contribute to this condition.

Signs that You May Be Allergic to Cats

Below are the most common indicators that you may be allergic to cats. These allergy symptoms often occur upon contact with a cat's hair or skin:

  • Itchy eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Skin rash (sometimes triggering hives)
  • Sore throat
  • Wheezing
  • Diarrhea
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing

It's important to note that while a cat's fur, saliva, and urine are typical sources of allergens, other cat breeds can transmit them through sources like dander, broken hair shafts, and nail fragments, which can also cause allergic reactions.

"Hypoallergenic" Cat Breeds That You Should Know About

Now that we’ve covered the primary allergen your feline friend can produce, let’s explore some supposedly hypoallergenic cat breeds.

Although there is still no completely hypoallergenic cat breed known to science, some produce lower levels of the allergy-triggering protein Fel d 1. These other breeds may be a better choice for allergy sufferers who want a feline companion.

While not completely allergen-free, these breeds produce fewer allergens than other cats.

#1. Oriental Shorthair

Hypoallergenic Cat Breed - Oriental Shorthair cat

The Oriental Shorthair is admired for both its striking appearance and social nature. Known for their playful personalities, these cats often "talk" to their owners using a range of purrs and meows, a trait they share with Siamese cats. Additionally, this breed is known for its intelligence and can even be trained to play fetch.

This breed is considered "hypoallergenic" because it produces significantly less Fel d 1 and sebum, an oily substance from the sebaceous glands, compared to many other breeds.

#2. Cornish Rex

Hypoallergenic Cat Breed - Cornish Rex cat lying on the sofa

The Cornish Rex is primarily known for its curly, dense coat. Scientific studies show that these furry felines have a mutation in their lysophosphatidic acid receptor 6 (LPAR6) gene, which helps reduce the transmission of allergens through dead skin and even peach fuzz.

Unlike other cat breeds that have three distinct layers of hair—guard hairs, awn hairs, and an undercoat—Cornish Rex cats have only one, the undercoat. This contributes to their reputation as a "hypoallergenic" cat breed.

#3. Sphynx

Hypoallergenic Cat Breed - hairless Sphynx cat lying on the bed

The most distinct physical attribute of Sphynx cats is their complete lack of fur. While some breeds, such as Devon Rex cats, may have a sparse coat or appear nearly hairless, Sphynxes are truly bald.

This lack of fur prevents them from shedding dead hair and dander, which contain allergens, making them a preferred choice for individuals with allergies. Consequently, Sphynx cats are often regarded as "hypoallergenic" compared to other cat breeds.

#4. Russian Blue

Hypoallergenic Cat Breed - Russian Blue

Russian Blues are primarily known for their distinct blue-gray coats (hence, the name) and almond-shaped green eyes. A rather quirky attribute these cats have is a slightly upturned mouth that seemingly makes them smirk or smile.

These cats are ideal for laid-back households due to their independent nature and low maintenance needs. They don't require constant attention and can comfortably entertain themselves.

Besides producing lesser amounts of allergens, their dense double coats can trap allergens and prevent them from being released into the environment. This makes Russian Blues a great choice for people with allergies.

#5. Bengal

Hypoallergenic Cat Breed - Bengal cat laying on a patterned couch

Unlike many cats with wholly domesticated ancestries, the Bengal can partly trace its roots to the Asian leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis). This unique lineage gives the Bengal its distinctive coat pattern, which has an exotic charm and seems to sparkle in the light. Additionally, Bengals are known for their love of playing in water and climbing.

Bengal cats have relatively thin coats and shed minimally. This characteristic contributes to their reputation as hypoallergenic cats.

#6. Balinese

Hypoallergenic Cat Breed - Balinese Cat sitting on a sofa

Unlike most of their counterparts, Balinese cats have silky coats but lack an undercoat. As a result, they shed minimally and have very meticulous grooming habits, which minimize allergens released in the environment.

Additionally, the Balinese is known as one of the most affectionate cats among hobbyists and breeders, which makes it particularly suitable for households with babies and children due to their gentle and loving nature.




#7. Siberian

Hypoallergenic Cat Breed - Siberian cat sitting on the window sill

The Siberian cat has a very thick triple coat, enabling it to thrive in cold environments. Despite its large physique, it is gentle and sociable, easily getting along with people and other pets.

In terms of being hypoallergenic, the Siberian cat's thick coat traps allergens, which reduces their spread and makes it a better option for people with allergies. The cat requires only moderate grooming during spring and summer.

Moreover, despite its dense fur, dead hair can be easily removed with a quick brush, making maintenance straightforward.


#8. Devon Rex

Hypoallergenic Cat Breed - Devon Rex cat

The Devon Rex is known for its petite physique, expressive eyes, and large ears that give it an elfish appearance. This cat breed has a short, curly coat and requires very minimal grooming, making it less likely for allergens to be released into the environment.

The Devon Rex is known for its petite physique, expressive eyes, and large ears that give it an elfish appearance. Often referred to as "Poodle cats" for their distinct coat, this breed has a short, curly fur that requires very minimal grooming, making it less likely for allergens to be released into the environment.

Unlike other cats that shed regularly, the Devon Rex sheds minimally. This characteristic makes the Devon Rex ideal for people with mild allergies.

#9. Javanese

Hypoallergenic Cat Breed - Javanese cat

Javanese cats are known for being quite playful and intelligent. Some kitty parents have even trained their pets to perform various tricks! These cats are also known to "talk" to their owners using a combination of purrs, meows, and other vocalizations.

In addition to their charming personalities, Javanese cats produce fewer allergens. They lack an undercoat, which significantly reduces the possibility of allergic reactions in people. This makes them an excellent choice for cat lovers with allergies.



#10. LaPerm

Hypoallergenic Cat Breed - LaPerm cat

LaPerm cats are named for their distinctive coats, which can feature tight curls or loose ringlets. Their flared ears give them an appearance of constant alertness. These feline companions are known for being very friendly and sociable, often seeking out their owners for cuddles.

Similar to other hypoallergenic breeds, LaPerms are known to produce fewer allergens, making them a suitable choice for some allergy sufferers.



#11. Siamese

Hypoallergenic Cat Breed - Siamese cat

Compared to many other cat breeds, the Siamese is notably curious and displays exceptional intelligence. They are highly sociable and often enjoy being the center of attention. Their hypoallergenic attribute comes from their low production of allergens and minimal shedding.

Furthermore, Siamese cats are known for being quite talkative. Did you know that the first Siamese cat in the United States was named Siam? This cat was given to First Lady Lucy Hayes in 1878 by David Sickels, the American consul in Bangkok.



#12. Burmese

Hypoallergenic Cat Breed - Burmese cat standing on the arm of an old leather couch

The Burmese is known as one of the heaviest cats around, but this doesn’t hinder their playful and inquisitive nature. The first Burmese cat in the United States, Wong Mau, was brought back by a sailor from a trip to Burma, marking the beginning of the breed’s American history.

As a short-haired breed, the Burmese cat benefits from regular grooming, which easily removes dead hair. This not only keeps their coat healthy but also reduces allergens, making them a more suitable pet for people with allergies. Their affectionate and curious demeanor makes them a delightful companion for many households.

#13. Colorpoint Shorthair

Hypoallergenic Cat Breed - Colorpoint Shorthair cat standing on the table

The Colorpoint Shorthair is primarily known for its chatty nature and minimal grooming requirements. With a short coat and striking blue eyes, it boasts a noble and aristocratic appearance. Similar to other hypoallergenic breeds, the Colorpoint Shorthair produces fewer allergens, making it an ideal pet for households with allergy sufferers.

Additionally, its talkative personality adds a lively presence to any home, while the low-maintenance grooming suits busy owners.

#14. Ocicat

Hypoallergenic Cat Breed - Ocicat looking at the window

The Ocicat is renowned for its short coat, which features a variety of spots resembling rosettes or bullseyes. This breed is not only very active but also gentle and enjoys being around people. Interestingly, Ocicats are known to enjoy wearing a leash and being walked like a dog.

One notable attribute of the Ocicat is its hypoallergenic nature. This is due to its seasonal shedding and very low grooming needs, making it an excellent choice for those with allergies.


A Final Word

In conclusion, there is no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic cat breed. However, some breeds produce fewer allergens compared to others.

If you suffer from allergies but still wish to get a cat, the breeds I've highlighted are ideal choices.


About the author

Denise Lessard
Denise Lessard


Denyse Lessard is deemed as the “mother” of Zumalka, which was established more than ten years ago to provide easily accessible natural products for pet wellness worldwide.

Besides being a trained alternative medicine therapist, Denyse also has expertise in homeopathy, naturopathy and iridology, reflexology, as well as Chinese medicine. She is a long-standing member of the Professional Union of Homeopaths of Quebec, as well as the Association of Naturopaths and Naturotherapists of Quebec.

Denyse’s philosophy as regards pet wellness is not just about only dealing with disease and illness when they get in the picture, but keeping animals in ideal health each and every day.

Find out more about Denyse when you click HERE.


  • Cat Exotica February 9, 2024 at 4:04 pm

    I want to thank you for this informative post! Being a Persian cat enthusiast, I really appreciate learning about hypoallergenic breeds. This is crucial information for individuals who are allergic to cats and are looking for a potential feline companion. Your detailed insights make it easier to find the perfect cat. I’m looking forward to exploring more on your blog.

  • Cat Exotica February 2, 2024 at 4:23 pm

    This blog provides valuable insights into hypoallergenic cat breeds, helping pet lovers with allergies make informed choices.

  • Zumalka January 12, 2024 at 3:32 pm

    You’re very welcome, Cat Exotica !

  • Cat Exotica January 12, 2024 at 3:30 pm

    I really appreciate the detailed explanation of hypoallergenic cat breeds. As somebody who is allergic to cats, this guide gives me hope about finding a furry companion. It’s informative and comprehensive, and it helps potential pet owners to choose allergy-friendly options. Thank you for providing this valuable resource.

  • Cat Exotica October 27, 2023 at 3:55 pm

    I entirely loved this article on hypoallergenic cat breeds! It’s an informative and well-researched piece that presents treasured insights for all people searching to carry a cat into their home, in particular these with allergies. The unique descriptions of every hypoallergenic breed and the realistic suggestions for managing allergic reactions make this a go-to aid for cat lovers. Thank you for sharing this beneficial information!

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