Hypoallergenic Cats: Fact or Fiction?

 

Animal lovers with allergies are always interested in hearing about “hypoallergenic” cat breeds.  Is there really such a thing as a hypoallergenic cat?  The answer isn’t a simple “yes” or “no” but more of a “well, sort of.”  No cat can be 100% guaranteed to not cause a reaction in a person who is very allergic to animals, especially if they come into close, direct contact with the cat.  However, it is possible to choose a cat that is less likely to aggravate allergies. 

 

 

Why are cat allergies so common in the first place?  They shed fur and produce dander like other animals, but the real key is the fact that cats spend a lot of time grooming…licking themselves and spreading saliva on their fur.  The most common cat allergen is a protein that is found in a cat’s saliva, which is then spread all over the body through grooming.

 

 

A “hypoallergenic” cat will produce less of this saliva allergen (and some other less common allergens) than other cats.  Research has shown that female cats tend to produce less allergens than males.  Neutered males produce less than intact males. 

 

 

There is no such thing as a true hypoallergenic cat breed, but some breeds do in fact produce less allergens than others.  Many people believe hairless cats like the Sphynx are more hypoallergenic than long-haired cats, but studies have shown that several long-haired breeds actually produce less allergens than many short-haired ones.

 

 

Here’s a list of the cat breeds that are less likely to cause allergic reactions, because they have lower levels of the most common allergens (consider choosing a female kitty for even better allergy protection):

  • Abyssinian
  • Balinese
  • Bengal
  • Cornish Rex
  • Devon Rex
  • Javanese
  • La Perm
  • Oriental Shorthair
  • Russian Blue
  • Siberian
  • Sphynx

 

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