Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Healthy Cats

Font Size

Do Hypoallergenic Cats Exist?

By Daphne Sashin
WebMD Pet Health Feature

President Barack Obama's much-publicized search for a dog that wouldn't trigger daughter Malia's allergies put a spotlight on hypoallergenic dogs.

But less attention has been paid to cats, even though cat allergies are twice as common as allergies to dogs, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Recommended Related to Cats

Safe Outdoor Environments for Cats

Thanks to the creation and marketing of cat litter since the mid 1940s, more and more cats are staying in-becoming indoors-only pets, that is. As such, cats are generally leading longer, healthier lives. The average indoor cat lives to be ten to twelve years old, and many of us know felines who are older than twenty. Conversely, outdoor-only cats survive for an average of two years in that situation. Our homes offer a safer, healthier environment than life on the street. Just think, no ticks...

Read the Safe Outdoor Environments for Cats article > >

So is there such a thing as a hypoallergenic cat?

The short answer is scientists don't know. If you have allergies and want a cat, it may be possible to find one that won't bother you. But experts can't explain why.

Anatomy of an Allergy

People with cat allergies react to a protein in the animal's saliva, skin, and urine. The allergen collects on the cat's fur when the animal licks itself and comes off in tiny flakes of skin that glom onto walls, carpet, and furniture or stay in the air. A cat's lick or scratch can cause skin welts or itchiness. In the nose and lungs, the protein causes itchy, watery eyes and nasal congestion and can lead to asthma.

The allergens are so powerful that they can hang around for months, causing effects long after the cat is gone.

Some cats secrete less of the protein, some cats put out less saliva, and some cats produce less dander. But all cats make the allergen in some form -- and a tiny amount can cause a lot of symptoms, depending on how clean you keep your house and how often you're around the animal, says Robert Zuckerman, MD, an allergy and asthma specialist in Harrisburg, Pa.

"Even a cat that has a little bit of allergen can cause allergy if you have enough exposure to it," Zuckerman says.

The other variable is your immune system. Maeve O'Connor, MD, an allergy, asthma, and clinical immunologist in Charlotte, N.C., says one person can hold a cat and have no symptoms, while another has an asthma attack standing near a person with cat dander on his or her clothes.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

cat at table
What's safe for them to eat?
Maine Coon cat breed
What they do and why cats have them.
Kitten in litterbox
How to solve them.
cat meowing
Why some cats are so talkative
cat on couch
Kitten using litter box
sleeping kitten
sad kitten looking at milk glass
cat at table
muddy dog on white sofa
Maine Coon cat breed
Pets: Behavior Problems in Cats