Which Cats Cause Fewer Allergic Reactions?

CatChannel veterinary expert Arnold Plotnick, DVM, discusses the reasons for allergic reactions to cats, and which cats are less likely to trigger allergies.

Q: Do Persian cats cause people to have allergies? Aren’t cats less of a problem for people, in terms of allergy, than dogs?

A: Some people are allergic to cats. People who are allergic to cats are reacting to the cat’s “dander,” which is a mixture of cat saliva, hair and flaking skin. Short-haired cats are no better than long-haired cats in terms of triggering a reaction.

The hairless called the Sphynx (remember the cat in those Austin Powers movies?) reportedly triggers fewer allergic reactions in people. Rex cats have tightly curled, very soft fur. The Devon Rex and Cornish Rex both are reported to produce less dander and to be less allergy-inducing than most other breeds. 

The most hypoallergenic cat is the Siberian. These cats are reportedly less allergenic because they produce very little of the allergy-causing protein (called fel d 1) in their saliva. One company has genetically engineered cats that produce very little fel d 1 in their saliva. One of my clients has purchased one of these genetically engineered cats and she says that it’s the first cat she’s ever been able to pet and own without it triggering severe allergic reaction. I do believe dogs are less likely to trigger allergic reactions in people than cats.

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