The Cat Breed That Makes Allergies Go Wild


Cat allergies are very common and affect around 1 in 10 people in the United States. People with cat allergies are not actually allergic to cat fur, but rather proteins found in cat dander, saliva, and urine. When exposed to these allergens, the immune system overreacts and triggers allergy symptoms like sneezing, coughing, and itchy eyes. While any cat can cause allergies, some breeds are known to be more allergenic than others due to higher production of the protein Fel-D1. In this article, we’ll discuss what causes cat allergies and identify the cat breeds that tend to be the most problematic for allergy sufferers.

What Causes Cat Allergies

Cat allergies are caused by proteins found in cat dander, saliva, and urine. When cats groom themselves, they spread these allergens through their fur and into the surrounding environment. For people with cat allergies, exposure to these proteins can trigger an immune system response that leads to allergy symptoms.

Cat dander consists of tiny, dried flakes of skin and hair that cats shed. These microscopic pieces of cat contain the Fel d 1 protein, which is the primary allergen present in cat saliva, skin and fur. When inhaled, cat dander particles with Fel d 1 can cause an allergic reaction.[1]

Cat saliva contains additional proteins that people can be allergic to, including the Fel d 4 protein. When cats lick and groom themselves, they spread saliva over their coats. As the saliva dries, it flakes off into the surrounding environment along with dander. Exposure to dried cat saliva on their fur is another way people can inhale allergens.[2]

Cat urine also contains allergens. Fel d 2 is a protein found in cat urine that can cause allergic reactions. When cats urinate, the Fel d 2 protein gets on their fur. It then ends up in dander and dried saliva particles that are shed. This provides another route of allergen exposure for sensitive individuals.[1]

Most Allergenic Cat Breeds

When it comes to feline allergies, some cat breeds tend to cause more reactions than others. This is often related to the length and amount of dander and saliva the cat produces. According to Cowaymega, the top 5 most allergenic cat breeds are:

  1. Persian – Persians have extremely long, thick fur that requires constant grooming and produces a lot of dander.
  2. Himalayan – Similar to the Persian in terms of coat length and texture.
  3. Maine Coon – An affectionate breed with a dense undercoat and long fur.
  4. Ragdoll – Large, heavy-coated cats that tend to shed frequently.
  5. Siberian – Surprisingly, Siberians can cause allergy issues despite having low levels of the Fel d 1 allergen.

In general, any breed with more fur and undercoating is likely to trigger allergies more than a short-haired or hairless breed. Cats that require frequent grooming or that tend to shed heavily also produce more allergen-containing dander and saliva.


The Siberian breed produces significantly lower levels of Fel-d1, the allergenic protein found in cat saliva, skin flakes, and urine. Research by Siberian breeders has shown that Siberians have much lower levels of Fel-d1 compared to other breeds. The average Fel-d1 level in Siberian cat saliva is 4-16 mcg per mL, while most cats produce 60-100 mcg per mL . The reason for this is thought to be genetic. Siberia is a harsh climate, and over hundreds of years of natural selection, Siberians developed lower Fel-d1 as an adaptation to survive cold winters curled up inside with people. Their hypoallergenic coats kept them warm and their lower allergen levels allowed them to be tolerated by allergy sufferers.


Named after the graceful dancers of Bali, Balinese cats have medium-long silky fur and striking colorpoints similar to the Siamese. They are considered hypoallergenic because they produce less of the Fel d1 protein that triggers allergic reactions in humans, shedding less dander as a result. According to a study by Azureys Cats, Balinese cats genetically produce lower amounts of the major cat allergen proteins [1]. Their protein levels can be up to 50% lower than other breeds. With lower dander production, Balinese cats tend to provoke less allergy symptoms in sensitive individuals. However, no cat is 100% non-allergenic, so reactions are still possible in people with severe cat allergies.

Cornish Rex

The Cornish Rex is a breed of cat known for its very short, fine, and often curly coat.[1] This coat texture means that Cornish Rex cats shed significantly less hair and dander than most other cat breeds. However, no cat breed is completely non-allergenic.[2]

The lack of shedding in the Cornish Rex is due to its unusual coat. Most cats have three different types of hair – long outer guard hairs, a middle layer called the awn hair, and the downy undercoat close to the skin. However, the Cornish Rex lacks the coarse guard hairs and only has the fine undercoat. With no guard hairs to shed, they release much less allergy-causing dander into the environment.

While Cornish Rex cats may trigger fewer allergies than other breeds, they still produce the Fel d 1 protein that causes allergic reactions in humans. Their dander and saliva contain allergens. However, through bathing and careful grooming, allergens can be reduced in the home.[3]

In summary, the Cornish Rex sheds less than most cats due to its unique curly coat. But no cat breed is truly hypoallergenic. With proper care, Cornish Rex cats can make suitable pets for some allergy sufferers.



The Sphynx is a hairless cat breed that lacks a normal amount of functional hair follicles. They often only have a sparse covering of short, fine down on their skin. The lack of coat makes Sphynx cats a popular choice for those with cat allergies, as there is far less fur and dander to trigger allergic reactions. However, some people can still have allergies to saliva and oils on the Sphynx’s skin, so they may not be completely hypoallergenic. According to one source, “The reduced amount of shedding and dander production can help lessen allergic reactions, but sensitivity to saliva may still cause issues for some”[1]. So while not allergy-free for every person, the minimal fur on the Sphynx breed does cut down significantly on typical allergens. Their lack of coat makes the Sphynx one of the more allergy-friendly cat breeds available.

Devon Rex

The Devon Rex is one of the more hypoallergenic cat breeds. This is due to their unique coat that is short, soft, and wav. Compared to other cats, the Devon Rex sheds significantly less. Their coat absorbs the Fel D1 protein rather than shedding it into the environment, which is what causes allergic reactions in people. According to Is a Devon Rex Hypoallergenic? Plus 9 No to Low-Allergen Cat Breeds, the Devon Rex produces 75-90% less allergen than other cats.

The Devon Rex has a thin coat with guard hairs of no more than 2 cm in length. Their coat consists of soft, downy underfur and wavy guard hairs. This coat type means less shedding and dander production. Their unique coat helps trap allergens close to their body rather than releasing it into the air. According to Are Devon Rex Cats Hypoallergenic?, the Devon Rex only needs to be bathed every 2-3 weeks since they do not release much dander.

While no cat is 100% hypoallergenic, the Devon Rex produces significantly less allergens compared to other breeds due to their unique coat properties. Their short, low shedding coat helps minimize the environmental allergens that cause issues for allergy sufferers.

Tips for Cat Allergy Sufferers

If you suffer from cat allergies but still want to keep your feline friends around, there are some things you can do to reduce allergy symptoms. According to the Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center, reducing the amount of allergens in your home can dramatically reduce allergy symptoms.

Keep cats out of your bedroom and restrict them to only a few rooms. Use high-efficiency HEPA air filters in the rooms the cats are allowed. Vacuum frequently using a vacuum with a HEPA filter, and dust regularly with a damp cloth. Bathe your cats weekly to reduce dander. Consider using allergen-reducing sprays and wipes on surfaces.

Take medication such as oral antihistamines, nasal sprays, eye drops, and bronchodilators to reduce allergy symptoms, as recommended by the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Wear an N95 face mask when cleaning litter boxes or vacuuming to avoid inhaling allergens.

Consult an allergist about allergy shots or other forms of immunotherapy that can help desensitize you to cat allergens over time. With some adjustments and care, you can often manage living with cat allergies.


It’s understandable that cat allergies can be frustrating and make owning a cat difficult. While there are cat breeds that produce fewer allergens than others, no breed is completely allergen or allergy-free. The most allergenic cats tend to produce more of the Fel-D1 protein that triggers allergic reactions in people. Siberian, Balinese, and Rex breeds produce less of this allergen than other cats. Still, those sensitive to cats may struggle with any breed. The best approach is to frequently bathe and groom your cat, keep them out of bedrooms, vacuum and clean often, and consider allergy medication. While you may not be able to fully eliminate cat allergies, you can manage symptoms and still enjoy life with your favorite feline.

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