Categories: Cat Breeding

You can selectively breed hypoallergenic cats

I have just written about a study in which the scientists found that individual cats are hypoallergenic (the link opens in a new tab). They refer to cat breeds but I don’t have access to the study details. I don’t believe that specific cat breeds other than the Siberian are hypoallergenic but breeders would disagree with me on that.

Genuine Siberian cat in Siberia. Photo by Alla Lebedeva. This is a great photo.

However, the important issue here is that individual cats can be hypoallergenic and therefore cat breeders could selectively breed for hypoallergenic cats. This has never been considered as far as I am aware. Breeders selectively breed for appearance primarily and secondarily personality traits. Why don’t they breed for hypoallergenic properties?

It appears that some individual cats produce less of the allergen, Fel d1, which causes an unwelcome and severe immune response in about 10% of the human population. Switched on cat breeders should be able to identify individual cats that have low levels of the allergen and introduce those individuals into their breeding lines.

I know that there are restrictions on introducing cat into breeding lines pursuant to cat association rules. But the cat associations, too, could get on board here and amend their cat breed standards to incorporate the hypoallergenic properties of the breed.

They could set standards on these hypoallergenic properties just as they do for any other characteristic of a particular breed.

This would enhance the breed in the eyes of the public, tremendously. It would be a very strong selling point. It would promote the breed. It could be advertised. The perfect hypoallergenic cat is the holy grail of domestic cats in some quarters. It is something which is to be admired and attained if at all possible.

As far as I can tell, whether or not an individual cat produces less or more Fel d1 in their saliva is dependent upon genetic inheritance. There are other issues such as neutering and not neutering male cats. I would like to focus on the inheritance issues because this is where selective breeding comes in.

For the sake of clarity, the word “hypoallergenic” does not mean that a cat is completely devoid of the Fel d1 allergen. It means that an individual cat who is considered hypoallergenic is less likely to cause an allergic reaction in humans.

Let’s see the cat associations set standards regarding the hypoallergenic properties of their cat breeds.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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