In America, at least 10% of people are allergic to pets. To make matters worse, cat allergies are about twice as common as dog allergies. Some of these allergy sufferers may be wondering if it’s possible to have an adorable feline companion anyway.
Are hairless cats hypoallergenic? No, hairless cats are not completely hypoallergenic. However, they do tend to elicit less of an allergic response than many other types of cats.
You could say that hairless cats are more hypoallergenic than the average feline, which may be good enough for someone with a mild cat allergy – however, hairless cats are not fully hypoallergenic.
What Causes Cat Allergies?
Contrary to popular belief, cat fur itself isn’t what causes people to have allergic reactions. The main allergen in cats is a glycoprotein called Fel d 1, which is present mainly in the saliva and the sebaceous glands of the skin. When a standard cat with fur cleans itself, it spreads its saliva and skin oils throughout the fur, coating them with the allergen. The fur then sheds and deposits itself on furniture, clothing, carpets, and much more, thereby spreading the allergen for humans to inhale.
Why Aren’t Hairless Cats Completely Hypoallergenic?
With their lack of fur, hairless cats certainly spread smaller quantities of allergens around the home. However, this does not mean that they are 100% hypoallergenic – in fact, there’s no such thing as a cat that is completely hypoallergenic.
The allergen Fel d 1 is still present in the saliva, skin oils, and dander. Even though they don’t have a coat to clean, hairless cats still lick themselves. This causes a layer of saliva, oil, and dander to build up on the skin, which must be cleaned off regularly. Most experts recommend bathing hairless cats about once a week to remove this skin buildup. Even with regular bathing, however, some allergens will still continue to accumulate on the skin.
How To Reduce Allergens At Home
The lack of fur definitely helps to reduce the amount of Fel d 1 spread by hairless cats, but there are still additional steps that you can take to further reduce allergens in your home.
- Consider Adopting a Female or Neutered Male Cat: Studies show that female cats produce less of the allergen that causes allergic reactions in humans than male cats do. Furthermore, neutered male cats produce less than un-neutered cats do. This is true for all breeds of cats, not just hairless ones.
- Keep The Bed/Bedroom Off-Limits: This is a difficult one, especially for cats and cat owners who love to cuddle. However, it can be effective in reducing allergy symptoms since you won’t be breathing in dander all night and your cat won’t be spreading its skin oils on your bedding. If you aren’t able to keep your kitty out of your bed at night, at least wash your bedding frequently.
- Clean Carpets, Furniture, and Pet Bedding: Places that your hairless cat spends a lot of time are likely to accumulate allergens due to the saliva, skin oils, and dander that your pet deposits. Be sure to wash all bedding, and use a quality vacuum with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter to clean carpets, rugs, and sofas regularly. We use a Shark Lift-Away Vacuum because the increased portability makes it easier to reach difficult places.
- Bathe Your Hairless Cat Regularly: It’s recommended that pet owners bathe their hairless cats about once a week regardless in order to keep their skin clean and prevent waxy buildup of oil, saliva, and dander. Making sure that you adhere to a strict bathing schedule is especially helpful for those who suffer from cat allergies.
- Use A High Quality Air Purifier: Since cat dander particles are so small, they’re likely to get kicked up into the air where you can breathe them in. A HEPA air purifier can help reduce the amount of allergy-inducing pet dander floating around in your home at any given time.
While no cat is completely hypoallergenic, there are certain breeds that produce/spread less allergens and therefore may be considered more hypoallergenic than others. Among those are several breeds of hairless cats, including the Sphynx . If your cat allergy is not severe, you may be able to live with a hairless cat and not have much of an allergic reaction.
Furthermore, there are steps that you can take to reduce the amount of cat allergens in your home, such as cleaning often, bathing your hairless cat regularly, and using a HEPA air purifier.
Many people who are allergic to cats have symptoms mild enough that they can still enjoy the company of a feline companion by doing research and taking the appropriate measures. However, people with moderate to severe allergies should always play it safe. If you know that you have severe allergic reactions to cats, then this may be a sign that feline ownership might not be for you.
If you’re not sure, it’s always a good idea to try visiting a friend with a cat, and then potentially fostering one. If all goes well, adopting a hairless cat may be the right option for you!
1. Do hairless cats lick themselves?
Yes, all cats lick themselves, regardless of whether or not they have fur! This means that hairless cats will accumulate a waxy layer of saliva and sebaceous oils on their skin.
2. Do hairless cats have dander?
Yes, hairless cats still produce dander which can carry the main allergen present in cats.
3. Are there any completely hypoallergenic cats?
No. All cats produce allergens, although some produce less than others. A couple of companies claim to have bred completely allergen-free cats, but they were never able to back up their claims.
4. Is Every Hairless Cat A Sphynx?
No, there are actually several breeds of hairless cats. Sphynx cats are simply the most commonly known. Read more about hairless cat breeds.