Are Tabby Cats Hypoallergenic? The Science Behind Cat Allergies

Many pet owners suffer from allergies, and cats considered hypoallergenic can help alleviate some of the symptoms. Although no cat is completely hypoallergenic, some breeds are less likely to cause a reaction in people with allergies.

With their distinctive striped coats, tabbies are among the most popular cats for cat lovers. However, when it comes to whether they are hypoallergenic, this is where the confusion sets in. Some tabby cats are less likely to trigger allergies than others, while others will trigger even minor allergies. It depends on the breed of the tabby cat and the number of allergens it produces.

There is a lot of confusion as to which cats are hypoallergenic or not, including tabbies. We hope this guide helps clear the air.

What are tabby cats?

tabby cat walking outdoors
Image reproduced with the kind permission of Pixabay

Given the popularity of tabby cats, it’s no surprise that many people consider them a breed in their own right. This is not the case. The term “tabby” refers to the striped markings on a cat’s coat rather than its breed.

The coat pattern of tabby cats – from their tabby stripes to M on the head – occurs in many breeds, including American Shorthairs, Maine Coons and Ragdolls.

There are also five different tabby coat patterns:

  • Classic
  • Mackerel
  • patched
  • Spotted
  • Checked

Why are you allergic to your cat?

Allergies are caused by a overreaction of your immune system to an allergen. An allergen can be anything from dust and pollen to your cat – or rather, a specific protein produced by their body.

Cats produce a protein called Fel d 1 in their saliva, skin and urine. This protein is what causes people with allergies to have an allergic reaction around cats. When your cat grooms, it spreads its saliva – including allergenic proteins – onto its coat. The saliva then dries and becomes airborne. You can also have it on your hands when petting your cat, and it will shed its fur around the house. Either way, when you breathe in the allergens, it triggers an overactive response from your immune system.

Can cats be hypoallergenic?

tabby cat lying on the bed
Image reproduced with the kind permission of Pixabay

Unlike many hypoallergenic items, like specially designed pillows or silver earrings, there is no hypoallergenic cat. While many cat breeds are considered hypoallergenic, they are just as likely to trigger allergies as their counterparts. They are, however, known to produce less dander and therefore fewer allergy-causing proteins.

Since all cats have saliva and groom regularly, all cats will trigger allergies. However, certain breeds may be more suitable for allergic cat owners depending on how much hair they shed, if they have fur, and how much saliva they produce.

Cats like the Bengal, Russian Blue, and Sphynx, among others, are considered hypoallergenic because they produce less dander and protein than other breeds. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t trigger your allergies at all. It is always a good idea to use air purifiers and vacuum regularly to avoid causing allergic reactions.

When it comes to tabby cats, the amount of dander and protein they produce depends on their breed. Being tabby simply means they have distinctive stripes on their coat, including an M mark on their forehead. It is their breed that determines whether they will produce more or less allergens than other cats.


Tabby cats are not a separate breed. Their name refers to the striped patterns of their coats. As a result, it’s not easy to tell whether a tabby cat will trigger allergies or not. It depends on their race.

Although there is technically no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat, some breeds may be less likely to trigger your allergies than others. It depends on the severity of your immune response to allergens like your cat’s saliva.

Featured image credit: Pixabay

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