Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds Don’t Exist (Sorry), But Here Are 15 Breeds That Barely Shed

These furry felines are better suited for allergy sufferers

Volanthevist/Getty Images

If you’ve idled away an afternoon or two watching adorable kitten videos, the next logical step is getting a furry feline to call your own, right? One problem: You or someone in your family is allergic. Although no cat is completely allergy-free, some breeds are less likely to cause those pesky symptoms (sneezing, itching, sniffling, watery eyes, you know the drill). That’s because they produce fewer allergens—namely, pet dander (like the hairless Peterbalds) and a specific symptom-causing protein in their saliva (think: Siberian cats). Unfortunately, many cats on our list are more expensive breeds due in part to their non-shedding traits. Here, 15 of the closest you can find to hypoallergenic cat breeds that are purr-fect for allergy sufferers.

What Causes Cat Allergies?

According to allergy medication manufacturer Zyrtec, more people are allergic to cats than to dogs in the U.S. However, like with dogs, it’s not specifically the animal’s fur that causes symptoms. “Cat allergies are caused by a hypersensitivity reaction to proteins found in the skin, saliva, urine, sweat and fur of cats,” Dr. Purvi Parikh, allergist/immunologist with Allergy & Asthma Network tells us. Cat dander (dead skin cells) can be especially problematic, because it is so small that the allergen remains airborne for at least 30 minutes after you disturb it in a room, says the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. On top of that, a cat’s saliva contains Fel d 1, a protein known to trigger reactions in humans. Since cats spend hours a day grooming themselves, licking their fur, this protein ends up all over your house. So, while some people may react wildly to pet dander alone, others could be fine until that saliva protein comes along.

Remember, cats and humans are all individuals. By that we mean one cat could cause ten unique reactions in ten different people. A single person could also experience a variety of symptoms if exposed to a bunch of individual cats. Some felines have a greater concentration of Fel d 1 in their saliva than others; long-haired breeds that hardly shed could be better for an allergy-sufferer than a hairless breed with lots of dander. And remember, “some peoples allergies are so bad that the smallest amount of allergen can trigger it,” cautions Dr. Parikh.

Interestingly, one study found that a specific diet of chicken eggs helped neutralize the Fel d 1 protein in cat saliva, making them less of an irritant to people with allergies. Unfortunately, that controlled study is pretty much impossible to replicate in your own home (there’s more to it than just eggs, trust us, we got our hopes up too). But it’s promising news for folks who love cats but can’t be around them. Until an allergy-safe diet is approved for cats, stick with a low-shedding breed.

Are There Hypoallergenic Cats?

There’s no way to completely eliminate dander or saliva from the cat equation, therefore there’s no such thing as a 100-percent hypoallergenic cat. All cats—even ones without hair—will shed dander and groom themselves. But Dr. Parikh tells us that some breeds may be better for allergy sufferers, specifically those with less of the Fel d 1 protein and those that shed less. If you’re desperate for a pet, check out some hypoallergenic and low-shedding dog breeds, too!

The 10 Best Cats for Kids

FaST_9/Getty Images

1. Bengal

  • Height: 13 to 16 inches
  • Weight: 8 to 17 pounds
  • Personality: adventurous, intelligent
  • Coat: short
  • Color: spotted, marbled tan and brown
  • Life Expectancy: 10 to 16 years

This family-friendly feline sheds less than other breeds, which makes them a great option for allergy sufferers. Active and intelligent, Bengals are one of the more dog-like breeds (they love playing in water and will even play fetch)—which is why they’ve also landed themselves on our list of naughtiest cat breeds.

KathiTaltos/Getty Images

2. Siberian

  • Height: 9 to 11 inches
  • Weight: 8 to 17 pounds
  • Personality: affectionate, playful
  • Coat: long, thick
  • Color: variety of colors and patterns
  • Life Expectancy: 11 to 18 years

Want a kitty cat you can cuddle with? Siberians are highly affectionate, and despite their shaggy fur, they produce much less of the allergy-causing protein Fel d 1. If you want a pet that will greet you at the door and then follow you around the house without making you sneeze, a loyal and easygoing Siberian is a good bet.

peterpancake/Getty Images

3. Sphynx

  • Height: 8 to 10 inches
  • Weight: 6 to 14 pounds
  • Personality: active, smart
  • Coat: hairless, hypoallergenic
  • Color: variety of colors
  • Life Expectancy: 9 to 15 years

Remember what we said about there being no such thing as hypoallergenic cat breeds? That’s still true, but this hairless breed is popular with allergy sufferers since its lack of fur means fewer places for irritating allergens to get stuck into (although you’ll still need to give yours regular baths to keep oil buildup to a minimum). Big-eared and wide-eyed, this curious kitty makes a loyal companion—just ask Dr. Evil.

Olezzo/Getty Images

4. Russian Blue

  • Height: 9 to 11 inches
  • Weight: 7 to 15 pounds
  • Personality: gentle, reserved
  • Coat: short, dense
  • Color: gray, blue
  • Life Expectancy: 10 to 20 years

Although they can be shy with strangers, this hypoallergenic cat loves company and is affectionate with owners. Its luxurious silver coat is highly dense, which means that allergens are trapped close to the skin rather than being dispersed around you. They can also live for many (up to 20!) years.

aliven/Getty Images  

5. Cornish Rex

  • Height: 8 to 12 inches
  • Weight: 6 to 10 pounds
  • Personality: charming, playful
  • Coat: short, curly or wavy
  • Color: solid black, white, gray, red, lilac; tabby, calico or tortoiseshell
  • Life Expectancy: 9 to 13+ years

With their unique curly coat, these sweet kitties are easy to groom and shed less than other breeds. They love being the center of attention and are happy to perform tricks and cuddle with their family. But Cornish Rexes can be talkative, so they might not be the best option for those who want peace and quiet at home.

White_bcgrd/Getty Images

6. Oriental Shorthair

  • Height: 9 to 11 inches
  • Weight: 5 to 10 pounds
  • Personality: smart, affectionate
  • Coat: short
  • Color: hundreds of versions, often tortoiseshell or tabby coloration
  • Life Expectancy: 10 to 20+ years

This long and lean feline has a short coat (duh) that sheds little, although you’ll still need regular grooming sessions to keep her fur shiny and healthy. Outgoing, friendly and happy, Oriental shorthairs are talkative and easygoing (they’ll even get along with dogs).

Zuzule/Getty Images

7. Burmese

  • Height: 9 to 13 inches
  • Weight: 8 to 15 pounds
  • Personality: outgoing, charming
  • Coat: short
  • Color: blue, gray, brown, tan
  • Life Expectancy: 10 to 17 years

Charming and sociable (so perhaps not ideal for busy folks who are never at home), Burmese cats have short and dense coats that make them a great option for anyone in the market for a hypoallergenic cat. This sweet breed loves to sit in your lap, sleep in your bed and follow you from room to room.

sjallenphotography/Getty Images

8. Balinese

  • Height: 8 to 11 inches
  • Weight: 5 to 15 pounds
  • Personality: curious, loving
  • Coat: long
  • Color: brown, red, tan, or cream with dark brown or black points
  • Life Expectancy: 10 to 20 years

Don’t be fooled by this energetic kitty’s fluffy coat—they actually produce way less Fel d 1, which makes them a good choice for those with allergy sensitivities. Also known as “longhaired Siamese,” Balinese cats are social, intelligent and easy to teach (they’ll even walk on a leash if that’s your thing).


9. Javanese

  • Height: 9 to 12 inches
  • Weight: 5 to 10 pounds
  • Personality: smart, athletic
  • Coat: medium to long
  • Color: variety of colors
  • Life Expectancy: 10 to 15 years

Similar to the Balinese, the Javanese has a medium-long single coat that never mats, so they have less fur than many other breeds. Javanese cats are a type of designer Siamese cat (often called Colorpoint Longhairs) that loves to play and needs lots of love and attention. So, be prepared to give them plenty of affection as a thank you for not triggering your allergies.

Angela Emanuelsson/EyeEm/Getty Images

10. Devon Rex

  • Height: 10 to 12 inches
  • Weight: 5 to 9 pounds
  • Personality: devoted, mischievous
  • Coat: short, curly or wavy
  • Color: various colors and patterns
  • Life Expectancy: 14 to 17+ years

We don't know what to gush over first, their elf-like faces, oversized ears or giant eyes. Devon Rex cats aren't totally hypoallergenic, since they indeed shed hair. But their unique short, wavy coats make that hair way less irritating to allergy sufferers. (FYI, they love food and might even try stealing off your plate.)

chairboy/Getty Images

11. Ocicats

  • Height: 9 to 11 inches
  • Weight: 8 to 12 pounds
  • Personality: playful, energetic
  • Coat: short, soft
  • Color: spotted
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 18 years

Since Ocicats don't produce much dander, they're unlikely to trigger your allergies. They also don't shed much. Like Bengals, these beauties have wild-looking coats, but Ocicats tend to have larger ears and more elongated muzzles in comparison. Get ready for playful—almost demanding—behavior from these felines.

Feng Wei Photography/Getty Images

12. Colorpoint Shorthair

  • Height: 11 to 14 inches
  • Weight: 5 to 10 pounds
  • Personality: assertive, devoted
  • Coat: short
  • Color: cream with red or brown pointing on the face, ears and tail
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 17 years

Basically, a Siamese cat in disguise, Colorpoint Shorthairs have the same build but different coloring. They are considered to be one of the hypoallergenic cat breeds (or, you know, one of the breeds that is better suited for allergy sufferers), as well as somewhat clingy cats who want to be near you at all times (so it’s a good thing their coats won’t induce a sneezing fit).

©fitopardo/Getty Images

13. Bombay

  • Height: 9 to 13 inches
  • Weight: 8 to 15 pounds
  • Personality: curious, lively
  • Coat: short
  • Color: black
  • Life Expectancy: 9 to 13 years

Lap cat enthusiasts listen up! This cat loves being on your lap. Bombay kitties are definitely mischievous and social, so don’t leave them alone too long or they’ll become destructive. Said to be very low shedders, they make life easier on sensitive eyes and noses.

Jun/Getty Images

14. Donskoy

  • Height: 11 to 12 inches
  • Weight: 6 to 12 pounds
  • Personality: affectionate, smart
  • Coat: hairless to fine-coated
  • Color: variety of colors
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Donskoy coats are typically hairless but can develop a very fine layer of hair. Even the hair they could develop doesn’t shed much (you may notice it as the seasons change) and their dander factor is very low. These loving animals enjoy doting on people but may not be ideal companions for other pets.

Seregraff/Getty Images

15. Peterbald

  • Height: 8 to 12 inches
  • Weight: 5 to 10 pounds
  • Personality: loyal, affectionate
  • Coat: hairless or short, fine hair
  • Color: variety of colors
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 15+ years

A Peterbald coat can be very fine or these cats can be totally hairless. Some even develop wiry, coarse coats over time. Grooming isn’t too intense, though hairless cats should be bathed every two weeks or so. If you’ve got allergies, Peterbald coats may not affect you as strongly!

SAshley Headshot PureWow

Freelance Writer

Sarah Ashley is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. She has covered pets for PureWow for six years and tackles everything from dog training tips to the best litter boxes. Her...

img 0936

Executive Editor

Alexia Dellner is an executive editor at PureWow who has over ten years of experience covering a broad range of topics including health, wellness, travel, family, culture and...