Having an allergy to anything can be quite problematic, whether your allergy ranges from a mild occasional annoyance to a potentially life-threatening problem if exposed to the allergen in question, and suffering from an allergy might potentially place some limitations on your life and lifestyle.
Many people are allergic to pets and pet dander, and cats are one pet in particular that a reasonable number of people are allergic to; and unfortunately, some people who are allergic to cats might wish to own one but find that they are unable to due to the effect it would have on their health.
However, allergies can be quite variable, and some cats will have a lower propensity to trigger allergies in people who tend to suffer from them than others, and this is something that often depends to an extent to the breed in question.
Allergies to cats are caused in the main part by the presence of a certain protein that cats produce called Fel d1, which is produced by the skin and then carried as dander on the fur, and shed around the cat in general.
However, the level of this Fel d1 protein that different cats produce can be highly variable, and some specific individual cats produce it in such low quantities that they are unlikely to trigger allergy symptoms in the vast majority of people who generally suffer from them – which means they might be viable pets for cat allergy sufferers.
It is really important to bear in mind that every single allergy sufferer needs to consider the suitability of any individual cat they might be considering individually, as there is no blanket rule on whether or not a certain breed or type of cat will be safe for them.
That said, this article will share some pointers on types and breeds of cats that you might want to focus on with your search, as these tend to produce less Fel d1 allergenic protein than others in some cases. Read on to learn more.
For reasons that are unclear, female cats as a whole produce less of the Fel d1 allergenic protein than males, so you might want to begin by narrowing your search for a low allergen cat down by starting with female cats rather than males.
The Siberian cat breed has been studied for Fel d1 levels in a general sampling of the population, resulting in findings that indicate 50% of cats of the breed produce the same levels of Fel d1 as any other cat, with the remaining 50% producing slightly less.
However, 20% of the sampling of Siberian cats produce a very low level of Fel d1, so if you can find a breed line that has achieved good results with other allergy sufferers, you might find a Siberian cat in that 20% that will be a good fit for you too.
Abyssinian cats have also been sampled for Fel d1 levels as part of one of the same studies that included Siberian cats, and both of these pedigree breeds were found to produce less Fel d1 than the average domestic moggy.
However, the study did not take any further steps to determine how much less Fel d1 was produced by the average Abyssinian, or what percentage of cats produced less of it – but this may be another breed to consider.
The Cornish rex cat and the Devon rex cat respectively have very unusual and unique fur compared to that of other cats, in that it is tightly curled somewhat like that of the poodle dog, and lies close to the cat’s skin.
It is important to note that it is not actually cat fur that contains or produces that Fel d1 allergenic protein that tends to cause problems for allergy suffers, but actually cat saliva and skin sebum – which then gets transferred to the cat’s coat among the coat’s natural oils when cats groom themselves.
The fur that cats naturally shed through grooming is spread around the environment, and this also carries the Fel d1 allergy proteins with it and so, triggers allergy symptoms in those prone to them – and so cats that shed heavily are more prone to triggering cat allergies.
However, Cornish rex and Devon rex cats shed little to no loose hair around the home, because the tight curls that make up their coats trap the hair that is shed within it, reducing the spread of the proteins that cause problems for many allergy sufferers.
This means that choosing a Cornish rex or Devon rex cat might be a better choice for allergy sufferers than many other cat breeds.