No not hypoallergenic I am afraid - Photo by Arno Arno (Flickr - see link at base of page)
There are no hypoallergenic cat breeds on the basis that the term "hypoallergenic" is used to mean a cat that does not produce an allergic reaction in anyone, which I believe is how the word is used in common use by the majority of people. Although, more accurately hypoallergenic means to cause fewer allergic reactions, implying therefore that there will still be some allergic reaction or at least a chance of an allergic reaction.
Part 1 is written on the basis that hypoallergenic means no allergic reactions and Part 2 on the basis that the cat is claimed to cause fewer allergic reactions.
Part 1 - cats that produce no (or very little) allergens
Quite a good percentage of people are allergic to cats, specifically the glycoprotein allergen that is in the saliva of cats (& sebaceous glands) and which is deposited on the cat's fur and which then flies off and disperses around the home as cat dander. The actual allergen is called Fel d1. I recall that the number of people who are allergic to cats is about 10% of any one population. I am not allergic but some cats produce more of the allergen and I can be allergic to those cats. This indicates that the variation in individual cats may be greater than the differences between the cat breeds.
One particular cat that I am allergic to is Timmy, an unneutered male stray. Research has apparently shown that intact males produce Fel d 1 at levels higher than neutered males, which leads to the suggestion that Fel d 1 is hormonally regulated by testosterone.
The only way to deal with cat dander is to do the obvious, the first of which is to accept it or get used to it. This sounds odd but I am less allergic to Timmy these days. Perhaps my immune system has adapted to it or become less sensitive to the allergen.
Another thing that might help is to install an air cleaner with HEPA filters. This should remove the cat dander from the air. They are not that expensive and there are other potential health benefits too.
Bathing your cat regularly will obviously provide at least temporary relief but cats wash themselves regularly depositing more saliva on their fur and it seems a bit artificial and unnatural to wash off what the cat has put on as part of a natural process.
Oh, I almost forgot, we can take medication to reduce the allergic reaction and a trip to your doctor or a specialist might help.
I don't think that minimising cat hair through grooming your cat will help and it may make things worse as the Furminator, a well known grooming tool, throws cat hair everywhere chucking more cat dander into the atmosphere!
Back to hypoallergenic cat breeds. It is a fallacy to think that hairless cats such as the Sphynx and Don Sphynx are hypoallergenic as they lick themselves too. Also they are not completely hairless in any case.
And the same goes for the semi-hairless or low shedding cat breeds such as the Devon Rex, which has no guard hairs (this is why the fur feels so soft - we touch the down hairs that are usually underneath).
The Siberian cat breed was and is alleged to be a hypoallergenic cat breed - not true I am afraid (but this is disputed - see a post by a Siberian cat breeder Kate Stryker). You can see some data that contradicts Kate on this part of the Siberian cat page that is on this site.
Sorry if I am the bearer of bad news. I doubt that I am as there are gazillions of website pages talking about this subject, which informs us what a big problem it is for a some people who love cats.
Stella a Siberian cat
Photo by Montag007
Part 2 - cats that might produce less allergens
I have already referred to the breed. Siberian cats have a reputation for being hypoallergenic. I find that there are conflicting points of view and indeed conflicting research. I have provided links above.
My personal experience is that there is a large difference between individual cats as opposed to between different breeds as mentioned above with Timmy. Clearly the type of protein that is the allergen in the saliva varies slightly.
Can hairless cats be hypoallergenic on the basis that they are less likely to cause an allergic reaction?
I have never read that or seen someone claim that. As the source of the allergen is the saliva and anal glands and scent, hair has little bearing on the outcome.
And I have recently been informed by a traditional Balinese cat breeder that despite the Balinese being long haired they are hypoallergenic. Although I have not heard that anywhere else. See her article about this breed.
Finally, for the sake of completeness the Allerca cat and the band of cats under that heading (including for instance the Ashera GD and Chakan GD) are claimed to be hypoallergenic. I understood that to mean not producing allergens that cause allergic reactions rather than less chance of creating an allergic reaction (why else produce such a cat?). These are not cat breeds just cat types and alleged by some to be f1 or f2 Savannah cats. They have no disappointed customers they say. I cannot vouch for any of it.
Dogs can cause allergic reactions too. We should remind ourselves that the benefit of keeping a cat far outweighs a bit of irritation through an allergic reaction and there are things as mentioned that can be done to minimise or eliminate the problem.
I am grateful to Kate Stryker for correcting me on the use of the term hypoallergenic cat and my assessment of hypoallergenic cat breeds.
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