Now that allergy season is in full swing, the thought of having to deal with loose fur and unruly cat hair can be off-putting to even the most devoted pet parents. We’ve asked Hope Gonano, a Cat Fanciers’ Association allbreed judge, to share a list of breed that have a tendency to be light shedders.
While no breed of cat is completely hypoallergenic (a cat’s dander and saliva are allergens for people, not just their coats), these cats generally have less hair to shed and, therefore, may be a better fit for people with pet allergies. And while these breeds shed less than others, it’s important to research a breed’s personality, temperament and potential health conditions before making a commitment to buying or adopting a specific breed of cat.
Although the breed may appear hairless, even the Sphynx has hair follicles and is actually covered with a fine, downy hair that can barely be felt or seen by the naked eye. Because of its fineness, the skin of the Sphynx is often compared to warm suede and can be oily because the breed does not have an adequate amount of hair to absorb its body oils. To maintain their skin and prevent oil spots on the furniture, the Sphynx should be bathed regularly and its skin should be protected from the sun to prevent burning, similarly to people. Another unusual trait of the breed is its wrinkles, which can appear around the shoulders, between the ears and around the breed’s muzzle.
Although the breed has very little hair and, therefore, produces less dander, sometimes people can have a more severe reaction to the excess body oil of the Sphynx, which is also an allergen. If you’re considering a Sphynx and have allergies, consider being tested for an allergy to the cat’s oil before committing to the breed.
With soft, wavy hair that comes in a variety of colors, the Cornish Rex can tend to look a bit moth-eaten when shedding (or molting), Gonano said. A small breed with long legs and large ears, the Cornish Rex sheds less than other cats and enjoys receiving plenty of affection from its people. Agile and active, Cornish Rex cats have been known to leap onto the tops of cupboards or high shelves and love a good game of fetch.
For every cat, most of their shedding is seasonal, Gonano said, but stress-related shedding can also happen, as well as shedding as a result of anesthesia. If you notice a drastic or sudden change in your cat’s shedding, consider its lifestyle and be sure to remove or manage any potential stressors in its environment. This should help reduce the amount of stress-related shedding and help keep your cat, and its coat, healthy.
Another minimal shedder, Russian Blues generally shed over a two-to-three week period just once or twice a year, Gonano said, and are easy to groom. Easily recognized by their dense, silky and plush double coats, the hair of the Russian Blue stands out at a 45-dgree angle that you can literally trace patterns into, where they’ll remain until you smooth them out with your hand. A compact breed with a graceful, muscular build, the Russian Blue has a gentle temperament and is known for being easy to train.
A massive breed that can weigh up to 26 pounds depending on its gender, the Siberian is known for its long, heavy coat that can adapt to cold weather easily and resist water. With a tight undercoat that becomes thicker in the winter, the dead hair on this cat tends to build up as insulation and stays inside the coat until it’s combed out, according to Gonano. This should be done regularly to prevent matting. Affectionate, intelligent and surprisingly agile for its size, the Siberian enjoys playing games and occasionally taking a dip in the sink or bath.
A single-coated cat that doesn’t shed as much as its peers, the Japanese Bobtail is a good self-groomer that requires only the occasional bath and brush. With a slender yet muscular build, the most defining feature of the Japanese Bobtail is its short, stubby tail, which is often described as resembling a rabbit’s tail. Curios and alert, the Japanese Bobtail is an active breed that requires regular exercise and attention from its people.
Described as a “wash and wear” breed by Gonano, the Siamese should be brushed with a fine tooth comb for general grooming and, once their dead hair is removed, will go back to being a minimal-shedder. With large ears, distinctive blue eyes and a sleek, slim figure, the Siamese comes in seal, chocolate, blue and lilac point and loves being around and chatting with its people.
Because of its connection to the Siamese family, Oriental Shorthairs are similarly easy to groom with “wash and wear”-style maintenance, Gonano said. Long and slender like the Siamese, Orientals differ in their coloring, which can range in over 300 colors in patterns that include ebony, pure white, bi-color and tabby. A loving, entertaining breed, Orientals like to be the center of attention and can become sensitive if ignored or left alone too often.
Known to be a non-matting breed, according to Gonano, the Birman requires a minimal amount of grooming and has a soft, lush coat. Born pure white at birth, the Birman develops color later in life and is generally color-pointed with a golden cast and white socks on its paws. With a robust build and striking blue eyes, Birmans are easy to handle and gentle and affectionate by nature. Intelligent and curious, the Birman responds well to training and can adapt easily to living with children and other pets in the home.
Often described as a short-haired Persian, the Exotic Shorthair takes longer to shed than Persians and have denser coats that may require some combing to shed, Gonano said. The thick, dense and luxurious coat of the minimally-shedding Exotic often makes it look much bigger than it truly is. A calm, relaxed breed, Exotic Shorthairs are affectionate and can adapt easily to an apartment setting or country living.
Jessica is a managing editor and spends her days trying not to helicopter parent her beloved shelter pup, Darwin.