Fact vs Fiction

fel d 1 image

There are many myths and misconceptions related to cat allergens and many people who suffer from cat allergies do not fully understand the actual cause of their allergy.

Discover the scientific facts that dispel the popular beliefs concerning allergies to cats.

Facts about allergies to cats



Contrary to popular belief, it is not the cat’s hair that causes an allergic reaction. Allergens produced in the cat’s salivary and sebaceous (skin) glands are responsible for triggering a reaction in allergic individuals…



There is a common belief that some breeds of cats – especially the hairless breeds – are “hypoallergenic.” While “hypoallergenic” technically means “less allergenic,” many people use it to imply “allergen-free”…



A myth exists that suggests cats with darker colored hair and those with longer hair are more likely to trigger allergies than cats with lighter colored or shorter hair. However, hair color and length have no influence…



While studies have demonstrated that hair length and color have no influence on Fel d 1 production, there is one physical factor that does appear to correlate: sex…



The most common recommendation for allergy sufferers is to avoid the allergen. For this reason, physicians and allergists often recommend removing the cat from the home or, at a minimum, exclude the cat from the main living areas of the home.1,2


The Purina Institute provides the scientific facts to create awareness and clarify potential misunderstandings. Please see below for more.


Q&A on Fel d 1 and allergies to cats

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Find out more about this discovery, and what this could mean for the lives of cats and the people who care for them:

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7. Bartholome, K., Kissler, W., Baer, H., Kopietz-Schulte E., & Wahn, U. (1985). Where does cat allergen 1 come from? Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 76, 503-506. doi: 10.1016/0091-6749(85)90734-1

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12. Zielonka, T., Charpin, D., Berbis, P., Luciani, P., Cassanova, D., & Vervloet, D. (1994). Effects of castration and testosterone on Fel d 1 production by sebaceous glands of male cats: I. Immunological assessment. Clinical and Experimental Allergy, 24(12), 1169-1173.

13. Ramadour, M., Birbnaum, J., Magalon, C., Lanteaume, A., Charpin, D., & Vervloet, D. (1998). Cat sex differences in major allergen production (Fel d 1). Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 10(2-1), 282-284.

14. Jalil-Colome, J., de Andrade, A.D., Birnbaum, J., Casanova, D., Mége, J.L., Lanteaume, A., Charpin, D., & Vervloet, D. (1996). Sex difference in Fel d 1 allergen production. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 98(1), 165-168.

15. Durairaj, R., Pageat, P., & Bienboire-Frosini, C. (2018). Another cat and mouse game: deciphering the evolution of the SCGB superfamily and exploring the molecular singularity of major cat allergen Fel d 1 and mouse ABP using computational approaches. PLoS ONE, 13(5), e0197618; doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0197618

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18. van Ree, R., van Leeuwen, W., Bulder, I., Bond, J., & Aalberse, R. (1999). Purified natural and recombinant Fel d 1 and cat albumin in vitro diagnostics for cat allergy. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 104(6), 1223-1230.

19. Black, K.R., Murphy, B., Filep, S., Brook, J., Subbarao, P., Turvey, S., … Chapman, M.D. (2018). Comparison of Fel d 1 and Fel d4 levels in house dust samples from the Canadian CHILD birth cohort. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 141(2), AB7.

20. Svanes, C., Zock, J.P., Anto, J., Dharmage, S., Norback, D., Wjst, M., … Early Life Working Group of the European Community Respiratory Health Survey. (2006). Do asthma and allergy influence subsequent pet keeping? An analysis of childhood and adulthood. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 118(3), 691-698. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2006.06.017

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23. Björnsdottir, U. S., Jakobinudottir, S., Runarsdottir, V. & Juliusson S. (2003). The effect of reducing levels of cat allergen (Fel d 1) on clinical symptoms in patients with cat allergy. Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, 91, 189-194.