Hypoallergenic Cat: All You Need to Know

We always heard about pets’ allergies and we often forget to discuss human allergies to pets. There are a lot of owners suffer from allergies to their animals. Part of the most distressing scenario we encounter are people who love their pets so much and begins to experience severe allergy and ending up deciding whether to keep them or endure the suffering every day. Luckily, there are different options and suggestions that pet owners can do who are allergic to cats and other pets.

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In this article, you will read about what cat allergies are, the signs and symptoms and treatments needed. It is appropriate for pet owners to understand that pet allergies can affect anyone at any age. Some owners that suffer from allergies usually experience mild to moderate reactions to molds or pollens. Genetic can also play an important role in this part. For example, if your parents have allergies, the tendency is that, you will likely to inherit the condition. According to some studies, 15% of the population in America are allergic to cats and dogs.
We all know that allergies from fur are very common and usually develop asthma. In USA, cat allergies are more frequent than dog allergies. For children, there are about 1 out of 7 ages 6 to 19 are proven to be allergic to cats.
In opposite to the belief that fur causes the allergies, the protein which can be found on cat skin usually the reason why people get cat allergies. It is often called as Fel d 1.

Why Are You Allergic to Cats?

Causes of Allergies

It is generally concluded that cat fur is the cause of the problem. The truth is, it is not. The allergy is developed by a protein called Fel d 1 in the small gland (sebaceous gland) of the skin, urine, and saliva of the pet. When your feline friend grooms itself, the protein transfer in the hair coat. In this way, when the cat hair is inhaled or come in contact with the owner, it usually develops allergies. This is due to allergens that become extremely small airborne particles after the cat’s saliva becomes dry.

There are cats that produce a large amount of protein while others are less. However, there is a belief that light colored breed and female cats are likely to produce less amount of allergens.

Pet owners must also understand that these allergens can stay long on furniture’s and other parts of your home like closet, walls and even on your clothes. There are times that these allergens can stay for several months. Remember that cat hair is not the allergens. Sometimes, owners carry cat allergens on their clothes. You can also get it into the air where your pet usually cleans themselves.

Another thing is that, if you have a family history of allergies, you are more likely to get that. It’s simply explained as genetic inheritance. When your immune system creates antibodies to eliminate unnecessary substance that might cause damage to your body like virus and bacteria, a person may experience a runny nose, colds, itching, fever and asthma. This scenario often leads to the belief that a person suffers from allergic reactions.

Is There Such a Thing as a Hypoallergenic Pet?

A person with cat allergies may be more sensitive to some cat breeds than others. There are cases that the person may be allergic to all types of breeds. People may think certain breed of cats is hypoallergenic. As a matter of fact, there is no hypoallergenic cats or dogs. However, there are approximately close to hypoallergenic cat breeds which will be discussed in the later part of this article. There are no cats that do not shed. All cats shed but the certain breed has a thin hair coat that doesn’t shed that much compare to others.

Can You Be Allergic to Dogs but Not Cats?

If you experience allergies to dogs, you might be asking the same question, are you allergic to cats? The allergens that cause the problem to dogs is different from the irritant that makes a person allergic to cats. As a result, some person can be allergic to dogs but not to cats. Below is more detailed explanation of the allergens to both cats and dogs.

Understanding Allergens in Dogs

People do really think that the hair is the main cause of the problem (a runny nose, colds, watery eyes, sneezing and other similar allergy reactions). You must know that the real cause of allergies in dogs causing bad health condition to humans is a protein that is produced in urine, skin, and saliva. The protein differs for each type of breed. Usually, humans that manifest allergic reaction to dogs are also allergic to all type of breed. The highest quantity of protein excrete in the skin of your dog is generally hard to control as it will turn into small airborne particles and may stay in different parts of your home. Saliva also consists of high amount of proteins that causes allergies but not as high on the skin. Saliva may exist in all places where your dog stays. Urine also consists of allergens and may cause allergic reaction specifically for sensitive dog owners. Same with cats, dog’s hair does not cause allergies. It only happens if the hair is affected with proteins coming from the skin of your dog.

Understanding Allergens in Cats

As mentioned in the earlier part of this article, cat’s allergen can be found in their saliva, skin, and urine. However, the compound of this protein is different from the allergens in dogs. If a person experiences allergies to cats, you are more like to be allergic to the glycoprotein. The reason why this allergic reaction happens is that the immune system does not accept the existing foreign substance in the body, which is the protein and secrets the histamines resulting in sneezing, watery eyes, colds, swelling and other forms of similar allergic reactions. These allergens can be acquired by direct contact or airborne.

The allergens that cause unhealthy reactions in dogs is different from allergens you can get from your cat. As a result, you may be allergic to dogs but not cats. There are still circumstances that a person can be sensitive and may have to suffer from different types of allergens that include materials coming from your environment.

To figure out if you are allergic to cats or dogs, you may need to get exposed to both pets and environment. If you experience an allergic reaction to dogs and not with cats, you may be confident enough to keep your feline friend.
Also, one other way to determine if you are allergic to both pets is to undergo an intradermal test or blood test. To control the allergic reaction, there are treatments available for you that includes allergic shot and antihistamines.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms to Watch for?

Watch out for the signs and symptoms of cat allergies such as the following:

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    Wheezing sound when coughing
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    Red and itchy eyes
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    Hives
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    Runny nose
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    Stuffy nose
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    Sneezing
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    Colds

If you experience allergies related to asthma, you may also experience the following:

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    Difficult of breathing
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    Chest pain or feeling of chest tightness
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    Wheezing sound when coughing
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    Whistling sound when coughing
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    Difficulty sleeping
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    Shortness of breath
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    Coughing
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    Skin rashes

Understanding Skin Symptoms

There are pet owners with allergic reaction may also experience skin symptoms. This condition is usually called as allergic dermatitis. This kind of disease is affected by an immune system reaction that develops skin inflammation. Direct contact with allergens may cause to start allergic dermatitis resulting to these signs and symptoms:

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    Skin rashes
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    Itch skin
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    Redness on the skin

Pet owners must understand that cat allergies may occur in just a few minutes or sometimes longer. There are about 30% of the population with allergic asthma may have serious epidemic result after a direct contact with a cat.

The symptoms of cat allergies may seem reasonably clear. It’s not always the cat that causes the problem. It’s a good idea to confirm this to your physician. Your doctor may suggest a skin or blood test to confirm if you have allergies. Although allergy tests are not always accurate, some physician may recommend that you spend time living without a cat inside your home to see how it affects your allergic condition.

Cat Allergy Treatment

Diagnosing Cat Allergies

If you think you are allergic to cats, it is best to talk with your allergist for proper treatment and diagnosis. The most common method to confirm a cat allergy is by skin prick test. In this test, a small amount of cat allergens is placed on your skin. After that, your skin will be pricked using a sterile and small probe that allows the liquid to flow under the surface of the skin. In this way, you will be monitored for any changes such as redness, swelling or any other kinds of allergic reaction. This test is done for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Although you are sure enough that allergies are caused by your cat, it is still best to undergo series of tests because you never know what other types of allergens might cause you to suffer from this condition. Environmental aspect can also have a huge effect on your case. 

Allergy Testing with Your Physician

If you think you are allergic to cats or not, it is better to get yourself tested for any possible allergies. Set up an appointment with your doctor about the procedure. Adopting a cat is a long-term commitment, don’t’ rush everything. Make sure to talk to your specialist about possible allergic reactions to know if you are capable of owning a cat.

How is the procedure being done?

To give you a basic analysis on how the procedure works, the following lists below are the necessary methods for allergy testing process. Allergy testing can be done in a fast and simple method. The first thing you specialist will do is to have you test for possible allergens. Next is basically waiting for the results and lastly, your physician will prescribe some medications that are right for you.

There are 2 types of procedure to undergo allergy testing, the skin tests or the blood tests.

1. Skin Testing
This type of allergy test is the most common one and somewhat not painful. Skin tests are done in 2 types, the first type, and the 2nd type skin test. Throughout the process of first skin test, a small amount of suspected allergen is pricked on the upper surface of your skin. This test is implemented on the forearm or at the back. Moreover, other suspected allergens are also assessed at the same time. If the result is positive or if you are allergic to one of the tests, you are more likely to experience swelling in the area and redness. There are times that your specialist may require the second type of skin test. It is somewhat similar to the first type. The only difference is that; your specialist may inject a small portion of allergens directly on the skin of the same area. 2nd test is usually performed when the allergens do not make any reaction on the pricked skin but still suspecting allergic reactions to the material used.

2. Blood Testing
With blood testing, the physician will get some amount of your blood and have it analyzed. This test is applicable when a person takes a medicine that could block the result for skin testing. It is also ideal for patients who are suffering from skin problems such as eczema. A blood test is also done for young children and infants.

How long should you wait for the results?

The skin testing is a very fast method that usually done within 20-30 minutes to see any positive results. Occasionally, swelling and redness may appear several hours after the skin test. Additionally, the blood test may take a couple of days to see the results. This is because the blood samples may require being sent to a laboratory for proper assessment.

Cattery Visitation

Another possible solution to test yourself for possible allergic reaction without requiring medical procedure is to visit some catteries. It is a place where you can find cats that are kept while their owners are away. There are catteries that allow visitors to come to their place and spend time with cats. In this way, you can hang around with lovely fur friends. Play with them and cuddle them to see how the effect goes on you. If there is no allergic reaction occur, you may not need to worry about getting a new cat at home.

Make sure that the goal of cattery visitation is to assess whether any allergic reactions may occur or not. It takes time to see any allergic symptoms to occur so we would like to recommend you to manage more visitation for a short period of time so you can properly assess the occurrence of possible allergic reaction and perform the right testing. Look for catteries that allow visitors to borrow a cat from them and bring it home. Talk to the cattery about your intentions in order to help you with everything you need.

How to Test Yourself Properly?

Before a cattery visitation, you should know how severely you would react to possible allergic reactions. If your doctor already prescribed a medication for you, do not forget to bring it all the time just in case you would need it during the visitation. If it’s possible, do not use antihistamine before cattery visitation as it will only hide the severity of the allergic reactions.

It is suggested to spend at least 1 to 2 hours with the cats. You must also know that the Fel d 1 reactions are exhibit within 15 minutes after the exposure. Other types of reaction process may need longer exposure before it occurs. If possible, play with the cat in a clean room to see better results. The room should be clean before your visitation and all types of allergens in the furniture or other surfaces must be covered. Another thing is that, you may need to spend time with different cats and kittens. Do not stick with one. Kittens, however, do not have the same number of allergens compare to adult cats. In this way, kittens may have a poor measurement of allergic reaction.

Allergy Reaction Testing Summary

As mentioned above, there are 2 methods to consider for any possible allergic reaction. In this way, it will help you decide whether purchasing a cat is good an option for you. We recommend that you perform those 2 allergic reaction tests to have enough guidance before deciding to own a cat.
However, even if those tests appear that you are allergic to cats, there are still options to follow on how you can manage the allergies while owning a cat. The first thing you need to do is to take antihistamines like Claritine or Zyrtec which temporarily diminish allergic reactions due to allergens or allergic rhinitis. Symptoms may include sneezing, colds, watery eyes and runny nose. Another option is to take allergy shots. In this way, it will help your body adjust to allergens or any type of allergic reactions. This is not a cure at all but it will help you feel better and lessen the occurrence of possible symptoms.

 Treatment for Cat Allergies 

How can you treat your allergies using medications? It can be controlled with basic allergy drugs that your physician may prescribe such as the following:

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    Antihistamine medications – There are available over the counter drugs you can purchase like Benadryl, Claritine, Allegra, Zyrtec and Astelin which come in nasal spray.
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    Decongestants – You can also purchase some over the counter drugs or the one prescribed by your doctor. OTC medications are Allegra D and Sudafed
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    Nasal steroid sprays – These sprays are the most common type of treatment for allergies. It can also be used for asthma symptoms. These are Rhinocort, Nasacort and Flonase.

The allergic shot is also ideal to relieve allergic symptoms. However, it is not always effective nor can be used as a treatment. It is not also ideal for kids below 5. Still, there are people find it a big help in their condition. Ask your physician about allergic shot.
Sadly, there is no other way to prevent the occurrence of allergy. According to some studies, early exposure to pets during childhood years can reduce the risk of progressing the allergy symptoms. However, some child who already has possible allergic reaction may get worse during the exposure to a pet.

Minimizing Exposure to Cats

It is true that treatments can help control the possible symptoms. However, the best way to avoid it is to minimize the exposure to cats. Here are some helpful tips to follow:

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    Do not kiss or cuddle your cat – Sometimes direct contact may only lead to severe cases. If possible, limit your exposure to your cat.
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    Inform your friends or visitors about your condition – In this way, they know what to do and be very extra careful with their stuff and clothing that may cause possible allergic reaction especially those friends who own cats at their home. Explain properly about the possible allergic symptoms you can get when they visit you so they have to be aware of that.
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    Plan properly – If you need to stay in a house with cats, ask the homeowner to keep their cat in a room during the days of your stay. It is beneficial to bring allergic medications with you all the time. Once the symptoms occur, it can be really hard to control it but with proper management, you can avoid it from happening.

How to Live with Cat Allergies?

In this part, you will read some helpful tips on how to minimize allergens even if you think your cat is hypoallergenic breed or not. There is no hypoallergenic breed but there are things you can do inside your home to lessen the possible allergic reaction. Always aim to reduce the number of allergens at your home to avoid symptoms you can get.

If you already confirmed that you are allergic to cats and the reaction is not that worse or life threatening, there are solutions to manage indoor allergies so you and your feline friend can enjoy each other’s company and live happily together.

1. Make an allergy-free zone inside your home – This is a place where your cat is not allowed. It can be your bedroom. Use a high-quality air cleaner and manage to use covers for pillows and mattress. Those covers should be clean or wash every week.
2. Hepa Air Cleaners – Use it as an air cleaner not only inside your room but also all around the house. Remove all dust catching furniture like blinds, carpets and cloth curtains. Always clean the house as often as possible.
3. Groom your cat weekly – Grooming can help lessen a number of allergens. Cats may love the bathing experience and it is a must to use products that are intended for them. For kittens, use shampoo that is safe and gentle. Ask your vet about recommended shampoos and other suggested pet care implementation.
4. Do not blame your cat for allergic reaction – Talk to your specialist to have a test for possible allergic symptoms and do not blame your cat right away about your condition. There are people who suffer from different types of allergens and this is what you want to figure out. You can reduce the allergens that possibly trigger your condition from the environment, it is not only your cat that causes the problem.
5. Medical interventions – As suggested above, aside from using medical interventions like skin and blood tests, you can also consider allergy shots, antihistamine pills, and antihistamine nasal sprays. It is necessary to find an expert who understands your dedication in owning or keeping your feline friend. A combination of house cleaning, medical treatments, and immunotherapy can help you decrease the possible allergic reactions and be able to live with your beloved cat.

Pro Tips - Advice from famous blog

1. Catster— Is an online community website created for cat lovers. It is also known as a social network for cat owners where people can join on groups and forums to share stories and connect with other cat lovers worldwide. You can find great informational resources about cats including vets, breeds, lifestyle and inspiring images on this website. If you also have questions regarding cat ownership, this online community is something you want to consider.

This is a tip from Meghan Lodge who is the writer of “Tips on Living with Cat Allergies” (one of the featured post on the website) that talks about ways on how you can enjoy the company of your feline friend and cope up with an allergic reaction. Meghan is an author who loves to write about pet topics that consist of information for a change. According to her, she’s a former nerd who became an animal obsessed supporter.
To check more about allergies on Catster you can visit the site below:

2. Huffingtonpost is an online news website and commentary blog founded in May 2005. Aside from featuring celebrity updates, the Huffington Post also supplies interesting news updates worldwide. It has an active community consisting of millions of comments on each post every month.
This is a tip from Dr. Tim Mainardi, a physician, researcher, educator and absolutely a pet lover, entitle “How to live with a pet allergy without getting rid of your pet”.
It talks about recommendations, facts on how to reduce pet allergens by 85% and how important to manage cat allergy symptoms.

3. American College of Allergy, Asthma and ImmunologyACAAI is a professional medical organization that works together in providing proper education, health care management, treatment course and research about allergy related studies. It consists of 6,000 allergist-immunologists and associated health professionals in achieving the common goals of providing quality health care, education and research.

This is a featured post from the site that differentiate types of pet allergy symptoms, management, treatment and diagnosis for both cat and dog allergies.

4. Health.com – Is a news and information website whose writers and editors supplies daily updates about health news stories and its importance. They deliver relevant topics from real individuals and expert’s insights. During the creation of their content, hundreds of physicians, patients, and experts have been interviewed to deliver accurately and trusted medical information on the site.
This is the lists of 15 hypoallergenic dogs and cats that you may consider when you’re planning to purchase a pet. The lists are not proven yet to be good for people with allergies but somehow can be an option in bringing a new pet at home.

Cats Good for Allergic Owners

What are the Top Close Hypoallergenic Cat Breed That Is Right for Owners with Allergies?

What makes your cat close to hypoallergenic? Hypoallergenic breed or should we say low allergen cats can produce a small amount of allergens compare to other regular breed. The only difference is that they have a fewer indication of allergens. Remember that there is no breed that is hypoallergenic.

Best Hypoallergenic Breed

3 among 7 hypoallergenic breeds are oriental lines such as Javanese, Balinese, and Oriental shorthair. These 3 types can be a good option for cat lovers with an allergic reaction. To better understand the 3 breeds, here are the following information below:

1. Oriental Shorthair

They are indeed close to hypoallergenic but even though they are considered to be safe, it is still necessary to groom them as much as possible. Brush their hair to minimize the potential risk of allergens.


Pros:

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    They love to engage with their owners in every possible way
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    Very devoted and loving companion
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    Highly intelligent
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    Playful and affectionate
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    Have different color and patterns compare to another breed
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    Requires little grooming

Cons:

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    Have a very loud voice
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    Requires a lot of attention
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    They are very vocal
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    They do not want to be left alone in the house
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    Easily becomes depressed
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    Very jealous of other pets

Price: $200 to $650
Where to purchase/adopt: https://www.petfinder.com/cat-breeds/Oriental

2. Javanese

Similar with Balinese, these type of breed have a medium to long single coat that never mat. Due to the fact that they do not have so much undercoat, it makes them perfect for owners with allergic reaction because they have less fur which contributes to allergens.


Pros:

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    They come with different colors
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    Fur is comfortable especially to humans
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    Friendly and affectionate
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    Highly intelligent
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    Athletic
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    This breed is also good for cat shows
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    Highly sociable and playful
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    Requires moderate grooming

Cons:
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    Very expensive because their breed is hard to find
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    Very expensive because their breed is hard to find
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    Easily get frustrated when left alone
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    Requires 100% commitment

Price: $600 to $900
Where to purchase/adopt: https://www.petfinder.com/cat-breeds/Javanese

3 .Balinese

It is usually known as the long haired Siamese cat. They are very much close to hypoallergenic breed because they produce a lesser amount of fel d 1 protein compare to another breed. In this way, owners are more likely to experience not having an allergic or asthma attack.


Pros:

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    Very smart and highly energetic
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    The coat is soft and healthy
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    Easily learn some few tricks
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    Sweet and fun to be around

Cons:

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    Very vocal at all times
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    Loves to lean on your shoulder or to other people
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    Required daily exercise to prevent obesity


Price: $500 to $700
Where to purchase/adopt: https://www.petfinder.com/cat-breeds/balinese3 .Balinese

Other Breeds that are good for Allergic Sufferers:

There are 2 types of “Rex” cats to be added to this lists. The Cornish Rex and Devon Rex. Both are safe and produce little fur which can be good for owners who suffer from allergic rhinitis.


1. Cornish Rex 

This breed needs more maintenance compare to Devon Rex because they need to be groom as often as possible to reduce the oil developed on their skin.


Pros:

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    A breed that has qualities similar to dogs
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    They love to be by your side all the time
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    Always love to follow their human anywhere
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    Love to play fetch
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    List Element
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    Able to learn new tricks easily
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    Very active but quiet

Cons:

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    Requires frequent grooming
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    Attention seeking

Price: $300 to $650
Where to purchase/adopt: https://www.petfinder.com/cat-breeds/cornish-rex

2. Devon Rex 

Devon rex has a shorter hair and less fur. They need to have their ears and paw clean all the time but does not need to give a full bath.


Pros:

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    Fun, loving and friendly
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    Very Smart
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    Loves to explore
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    Able to adapt with other pets
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    Very affectionate
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    Low maintenance
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    Loyal to their humans
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    They will follow you around the house
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    Sociable and safe with kids
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    Less obstructive

Cons:

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    Fur is curly and short
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    Have ridiculous large ears

Price: $400 ~ $800
Where to purchase/adopt: https://www.petfinder.com/cat-breeds/Devon-Rex

The 2 other breed you can also consider if you are looking for a less fur are:

1. Siberian  

Just like Balinese, Siberian have moderate long fur. Even though they appear to have a long coat, they can still be considered close to hypoallergenic breed because they consume a lower amount of enzyme in their saliva. Some studies say that 75% of people with allergy have no reaction to this type of breed.


Pros:

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    Adventurous and loves to explore
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    Athletic and able to jump far height
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    Affectionate and loving to their human
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    Love to engage with visitors
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    Don’t require daily exercise
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    Very calm and friendly

Cons:

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    They have a very thick coat
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    Shed a lot
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    They are very big breed type of cat

Price: $1300 to $1600
Where to purchase/adopt: https://www.petfinder.com/cat-breeds/Siberian

2. Sphynx 

They are most often correspond to hypoallergenic breed. Being bald or hairless does not mean they require less maintenance. Sphynx may need a full bath frequently to remove excess oil on their skin. Their large eyes may also need several cleaning.


Pros:

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    Family oriented breed
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    Sweet and loving
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    Good with other pets at home
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    Very friendly
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    Loves to snuggle
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    They don’t shed

Cons:

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    Prone to acne and greasiness
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    Sensitive to cold and hot temperature
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    Sensitive to rough surfaces
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    They require frequent grooming
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    Less attractive
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    Crave attention

Price: $1000 to $1200
Where to purchase/adopt: https://www.petfinder.com/cat-breeds/Sphynx

Conclusion

Families and individuals need to weigh the possible health consequences of keeping a cat and the emotional effect of losing their feline friend if necessary. The decision is different for everyone, depending on the severity of the allergic reaction and how important their cat to their lives. We all know that health doesn’t only pertain to physical symptoms but also the overall aspects of a person. It would be worth considering the big picture throughout physical health and happiness.

Pet owners must also understand that coping with allergy symptoms is a long-term commitment. Using a combination of treatments and proper home management can lessen the risk of allergens at home. In this way, you and your family will be able to enjoy your favorite buddy and cuddle your cat anytime. Cat allergies are able to control with avoidance. This doesn’t mean that you need to get rid of your cat. By following the strategies given in this article, you can always keep your best friend around.

Resources: 

About the Author Evelyn

My name is Evelyn, creator of PlaywithMeow!, I created Play with Meow to connect, share and inspire other cat lovers around the world, hoping we all utilize this community to make a better life for our cats.

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