The dictionary definition of hypoallergenic is “not likely to cause an allergic reaction”
So the question is; are tortoiseshell cats less likely than other cats to cause a problem to people who are allergic to cats?
Why are some people allergic to cats?
Cat allergies in people are caused by the body’s immune response to a particular protein called Fel d1. It is present in the saliva and flakes of dead skin (dander) of all cats.
Common allergic reactions by humans are coughing, sneezing, asthma and skin complaints.
In order to minimise these reactions you could:
- sweep and/or vacuum carpets and upholstery regularly
- keep your cat out of your bedroom
- brush your cat and/or wipe with a damp cloth to reduce dander
Why choose a tortoiseshell cat if you are concerned about allergies?
Tortoiseshell cats are not a breed and anyway no colour or pattern can guarantee a cat to be hypoallergenic.
It has been suggested that some torties such as Russian Blue and Balinese produce less Fel d1, but it is still present.
Another factor in favour of torties is that many of the breeds have short hair and therefore produce less dander e.g. Cornish Rex and British shorthair.
It has also been said that female and neutered male cats produce less protein. As nearly all tortoiseshell cats are female this may be another reason to choose one.
In conclusion on this part of the article, all cats produce saliva and dander containing Fel d1 to which some humans are allergic.
There are reasons to believe that some tortoiseshell cats may produce less and so be less of a problem but there is no guarantee. In truth, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat.
Does your tortoiseshell cat have food allergies?
There are various hypoallergenic diets on the market for cats that may have adverse food reactions.
There is no need to put your pet on a hypoallergenic diet if she shows no sign of reacting badly to food but if you suspect there may be a problem then it may be worth trying one.
What signs should you look for if you suspect a problem?
Signs that your pet may have a food allergy include gastrointestinal upsets, itching and scratching, ear infections and dandruff.
She may also be either lethargic or hyperactive. As all of these symptoms may be indications of other problems other than allergies then it is always worth consulting a vet for advice.
What are hypoallergenic cat foods?
Hypoallergenic diets aim to exclude poor quality ingredients, colourings and chemical preservatives. Moreover, wheat, beef and dairy are usually omitted along with soya.
There are grain free diets available and although it is unlikely that your cat will be allergic to all types of grain it may be worth trying one if you are unsure.
In order to find out what your tortie is sensitive too you could also try rotational feeding whereby you change different foods around. Some hypoallergenic diets suggest introducing less common foods such as duck, pork or sweet potato.
We have summarised the best hypoallergenic cat food on a separate article.
Help is available in the form of special pet food if you think your tortie has a food allergy.
It is always wise to seek professional advice if you are not sure.