There Are No Allergen-Free Or "Hypoallergenic" Cats

There Are No Allergen-Free Or Hypoallergenic Cats

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.”

Numerous sources, including breed club websites, suggest that these “hypoallergenic” cats will eliminate allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. However, there are no truly allergen-free cats.1-4 While some cats may shed less hair, it is not actually the hair that causes an allergic reaction. Instead, people with cat allergies are responding to allergens produced primarily in the salivary and sebaceous (skin) glands.1,2

The facts

There are no truly “hypoallergenic” or allergen-free cats.

  • Although allergen production varies widely among individual cats, and can vary throughout the year in an individual, all cats produce Fel d 1 (the major cat allergen) regardless of breed.1-7
  • Since Fel d 1 is produced in salivary and sebaceous (skin) glands of the cat, even hairless cats – such as the Cornish Rex and Sphinx – still produce allergens.1-7
  • All cats groom and produce dander, which is then spread (with allergens) into the environment.1-8

Find out more

  1. Bastien, B., Gardner, C. & Satyaraj, E. (2019). Influence of phenotype on salivary Fel d 1 in domestic shorthair cats. Accepted, Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.
  2. Bonnet, B., Messaoudi, K., Jacomet, F., Michaud, E. Fauquert, J. L., Caillaud, D., & Evrard, B. (2018). An update on molecular cat allergens: Fel d 1 and what else? Chapter 1: Fel d 1, the major cat allergen. Allergy, Asthma and Clinical Immunology, 14, 14. doi: 10.1186/s13223-018-0239-8
  3. Kelly, S.M., Karsh, J., Marcelo, J., Boeckh, D., Stepner, N., Litt, D.,...Yang, W.H. (2018). Fel d 1 and Fel d4 levels in cat fur, saliva and urine. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2018.07.033
  4. Dávila, I., Dominguez-Ortega, J., Navarro-Pulido, A., Alonso, A., Antolin-Amerigo, D., Gonzalez-Mancebo, E., Martin-Garcia, C., Nunez-Acevedo, B., Prior, N.,…Torrecillas, M. (2018). Consensus document on dog and cat allergy. Allergy, 73, 1206-1222. doi: 10.1111/all.13391
  5. Salo, P.M., Cohn, R.D., & Zeldin, D.C. (2018). Bedroom allergen exposure beyond house dust mites. Current Allergy and Asthma Reports, 18, 52. doi: 10.1007/s11882-018-0805-7
  6. Butt, A., Rashid, D., & Lockey, R. (2012). Do hypoallergenic cats and dogs exist?  Annals of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, 108, 74-76.
  7. Nicholas, C., Wegienka, G., & Havstad, S. (2008). Influence of cat characteristics on Fel d 1 levels in homes. Annals of Allergy Asthma and Immunology 101, 47-50.
  8. Luczynska, C., Li, Y., Chapman, M., & Platts-Mills, T. (1990). Airborne concentrations and particle size distribution of allergen derived from domestic cats (Felis domesticus). Measurements using cascade impactor, liquid impinger, and a two-site monoclonal antibody assay for Fel d 1. American Review Respiratory Diseases, 141, 361-367.