There are probably 2 major reasons why households go ‘catless’ – allergies and hair deposits.
If you love cats, but have been denying yourself one because you or someone in your family is allergic to the furry little beasts, it may surprise you to find out that there are some cats that shed hardly at all. The problem is not the cat’s hair, per se, but rather the proteins in the cat’s saliva that become attached to the hair when the cat grooms. Less hair will often mean fewer allergens.
In addition to allergies, cat hair can get all over the house – coating your furniture, clothing, and rugs, and forming windrows when cats are actively blowing their coats (usually in the spring). You can vacuum diligently, but if you have several cats, the hair will be back before you know it.
Non-shedding or minimally-shedding cats can be the answer. However, if you do choose a breed that has little or no hair, you will have to make sure that the cat is warm in cold weather. Most cats will adapt quickly to a sweater or coat when autumn and winter arrive.
For the ultimate in hairlessness, no cat breed can beat the Sphynx. While not exactly completely hairless, the Sphynx has such short, sparse hair that the cat’s exterior will feel more like high-quality suede than hair. Arising from careful breeding practices and natural genetic mutation, this breed has now been firmly established. Sphynx cats come in a range of colors with the striped cats looking as if they have had a maze printed on them.
In addition to sensitivity to cold (especially as regards kittens), Sphynx cats have a slightly higher rate of heart disease and respiratory problems then most breeds. Because there is so little hair to absorb body oils, this cat will need regular baths to remove the oil. Be sure to dry and warm the cat quickly after a bath.
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Although it might easily be mistaken for a Sphynx, the Donskoy is actually a separate breed first developed in Russia. Like the Sphynx, it is a nearly hairless breed and is very docile. The skin of the Donskoy is hot to the touch, and the high body temperature of the Donskoy helps it to avoid some of the respiratory diseases that affect the Sphynx. The skin of the Donskoy actually sweats, like human skin does.
The slanted, almond eyes of the Donskoy also set it apart from the Sphynx, which has rounder eyes. The Donskoy gets along well with everyone in the family, including other pets.
3. Cornish Rex
While certainly possessing a coat, the hair of the Cornish Rex is a good deal sparser and shorter than normal. The hair is also wavy and lacks the guard and awn layers of hair, leaving only the soft down layer. The Cornish Rex makes a wonderful companion pet, and is intelligent and playful.
Because it lacks so much of a normal coat, it will have to be protected from the cold, to prevent respiratory problems from arising. Graceful in appearance, but requiring plenty of attention and affection, the Cornish Rex is perfect for those who want a cat that will interact with them.
The Peterbald is another cat that began its development in Russia with a crossing between the Donskoy and the Oriental Shorthair. Many of the cats are nearly bald, while others have what might be described as a velvety coat. Needless to say, shedding will not be a problem with the Peterbald, and their ‘coats’ can come in nearly any color or pattern. Peterbalds have long legs and tail and an elongated facial structure topped by large ears.
Friendly and affectionate, this small cat gets along with everyone in the household, even dogs, and is always lively and curious. This is a cat that seeks out human companionship and does best when someone is home during the day.
Although fully furred, Javanese cats will not contribute much to household dirt. The reason for this is that the semi-long coat of the Javanese consists only of the longer guard hairs – there are no down or awn hairs present, cutting the shedding possibility by 2/3. In addition to shedding very little, the Javanese is simply an attractive and personable cat to have as a companion.
Nearly as talkative as a Siamese, this breed is happiest when interacting with its human friends. Javanese can be trained to a degree, but please watch the cat’s diet, these cats like to fill up at every opportunity.
Those who want a dramatically coated cat that doesn’t shed much, should definitely consider the Bengal. This is a small, active cat that was developed by breeding domestic shorthairs with Asian leopard cats. The result was a friendly cat with a spectacular coat; spots and dashes combine with some striping to produce a truly unique look. The Bengal is a fairly large cat that is trainable and vocal.
The reason why the Bengal is good as regards both shedding and allergies is because the coat is not too thick to begin with, so there’s less fur to shed. Also, these cats are not prone to too much grooming (once over lightly generally serves) so the protein allergen in the cat’s saliva will not be spread around.
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7. Devon Rex
The Devon Rex has even less hair to shed than the Cornish Rex, so will be great for a ‘two-fer’ again. The very minimal coat consists entirely of down hairs, so the cats look and feel velvety. Small and perky, with an appealing and alert face, the Devon Rex’s curly, short coat will keep your furniture and clothes clean.
Very inquisitive and with a good sense of humor, the Devon Rex will enliven any household with its behavior. The Devon Rex will adhere to you wherever you go in the home, and will probably want to sleep curled up next to you at night. Keep in mind that these cats never met a snack they didn’t like, so help your Devon Rex keep its svelte appearance with prudent feeding.
You would hardly think that a cat like the Laperm, which has a thick, luxuriant coat would present few shedding problems, but these cats really are stingy when it comes to shedding. While the kittens can be born without hair, or with straight or curly hair, at some point in the kitten’s development, a new coat grows in that is fairly long and wavy. All colors are acceptable in this breed, and the Laperm has an open, ‘honest’ countenance.
Laperms will want to be around you as much as possible and are one of the few cats that will pet you. The Laperm is a breed to which you can also teach tricks. An all-around good fellow of a cat.
9. Russian Blue
A beautiful and elegant cat, the Russian Blue is also a minimal shedder. Generally, this breed will have an annual (or perhaps biennial) shedding extravaganza that lasts a couple of weeks, then go back to its usual lack of shedding. Large emerald eyes are set off against the unique short bluish-silver coat of this breed, making it unmistakable. Very gentle, but sometimes shy around loud noises or people it doesn’t know, the Russian Blue bonds tightly with its human friends.
When you combine a winning personality, good looks, and lack of shedding, it’s hard for anyone to go wrong if they decide to have a Russian Blue join their family.
If you’re looking for a big cat with a long coat that doesn’t shed much, consider the Siberian. These big boys and girls can weigh well over 20 pounds and are topped by a thick, luxurious coat that you won’t wind up finding all over the house. The Siberian has a very dense undercoat, but rather than the hairs simply being dropped everywhere it goes, they are caught in the guard and awn hairs and stay put until brushed out, which should be done frequently to prevent matting.
Not averse to water, you may well find your Siberian splashing around in the goldfish bowl or joining you at the sink when you wash up. This is a playful cat that will want to interact with its humans as much as possible. You may even find that it is protective of its family, like a dog is.