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Are Oriental Shorthair Cats Hypoallergenic? What Science Tells Us

Jordyn Alger

By Jordyn Alger

blue oriental shorthair

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Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

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Many people with cat allergies can attest that the allergy can’t stop them from loving cats! Although living with cats may require extra care and work for a person with allergies, it is doable if you find the right cat and put some strategies in place. If you have cat allergies and are considering bringing an Oriental Shorthair home, you need to know that even though an Oriental Shorthair is considered a hypoallergenic breed, no cat is truly hypoallergenic.

Some breeds have the reputation of being hypoallergenic because they are considered low-shedding or have a light-colored coat. To date, there is no way we can predict that one cat will be less likely to cause an allergic reaction than another. The Oriental Shorthair is no exception, so it can still technically trigger your allergies. To learn more about cat allergies and why the Oriental Shorthair is considered hypoallergenic, keep reading below.

Why There Is No Truly Hypoallergenic Cat

To understand why there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat, it is crucial to understand how cat allergies work. People who suffer from cat allergies are allergic to proteins that cats produce (also called allergens). Fel d1 is the major allergen responsible for cat allergy symptoms, and most research focuses on it, although other cat allergens have been identified. This protein can be found in cats’ saliva, skin (sebaceous glands), and anal glands, and can transfer to the environment via hair and dander. Since every cat produces Fel d1 and sheds hair and dead skin cells, no cat can be 100% non-allergenic.

However, some cats naturally produce fewer Fel d1 proteins than others. Often, the cause of a person’s allergic reaction is the loose cat hair and dander accumulating on furniture and clothes. If a breed rarely sheds hair, the chances of allergies might decrease. Also, allergen shedding varies not only between cats but also in the same cat from day to day and even over the course of one day.1

grey oriental shorthair cat
Image Credit: TalyaPhoto, Shutterstock

Why Oriental Shorthair Cats Are Considered Good for People with Allergies

Oriental Shorthairs are considered great companions for people with cat allergies because the chances of a reaction being triggered might be lower. Of course, much of this can depend on an individual’s reactivity. It will largely depend on whether you have other allergies, as well as your symptom threshold.2 This means the level of exposure to the different allergens that you can cope with before developing the uncomfortable symptoms of allergy. If you are highly sensitive or have additional allergies, there is still a chance that the Oriental Shorthair will cause problems.

Do Oriental Shorthair Cats Shed a Lot?

Oriental Shorthairs do not shed that much. This breed’s fur length ranges from short to medium, so they are not prone to excessive shedding. With proper grooming, their shedding can be reduced even further.

The Oriental Shorthair is related to the Siamese, which is also a low shedder. Because the Oriental Shorthair sheds so little, it might also be less likely to aggravate a person’s cat allergies.

oriental shorthair cat in canopy bed
Image Credit: Anna Pozzi Zoophotos, Shutterstock

How Many Allergens Are in an Oriental Shorthair Cat’s Saliva & Dander?

Oriental Shorthairs have the same type of allergens as other cat breeds. Fel d1 is the main protein involved in cat allergies and the one that is most heavily studied.

Grooming the Oriental Shorthair Cat

Although the Oriental Shorthair naturally sheds very little, proper grooming goes a long way to prevent the spread of allergens through your home. Plus, grooming is essential to good cat care.

Oriental Shorthairs are low-maintenance pets. They have sleek, silky coats, and they groom themselves regularly. Still, by brushing their coats a few times a week, you can remove the loose hairs from their fur and prevent them from being deposited around your home.

Bathing your pet can be challenging, but the right shampoo will make it a lot easier! We have two favorite shampoos for the job, both are safe, all-natural shampoos designed with your pets in mind. Our soothing shampoos are pH balanced, made in the USA, and free of glutens, dyes, sulfates, and phthalates. Here’s a quick guide to help you choose the right option for your pet’s next bath!

Hepper Oatmeal pet shampoo
Hepper Colloidal Oatmeal Pet Shampoo

Hepper Waterless No Rinse Pet Shampoo
Natural cucumber & aloe scent
Natural cucumber & aloe scent:
Natural cucumber & aloe scent:
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Rinsing required:
Rinsing required:
Free of harsh chemicals & nasty ingredients
Free of harsh chemicals & nasty ingredients:
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Lathers easily
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Can I Make My Cat Hypoallergenic?

Luckily, a lot of effort is being put into finding solutions for cat allergies. So if you are unfortunately allergic to your beloved cat, then you will be happy to hear that feeding your cat a specific Purina diet can help reduce the active Fel d1 load an average of 47% in ten weeks, according to the manufacturers. The special coating on the kibble inactivates the protein Fel d1 in the mouth, reducing the allergenicity of your cat. A study done in 2019 involving 105 cats showed that 86% of them had a reduction of at least one third of their allergenic load.

A cat vaccine has also been developed with promising results. The vaccine is called HypoCat and has proven to neutralize Fel d1 allergen, reducing its allergic effects in people. The vaccine is not yet available, but manufacturers are hoping it will be available in the US in the near future.

The 7 Other Cat Breeds That Are Considered Hypoallergenic

If you’re curious about other cat breeds that might be less likely to trigger an allergic reaction, there are plenty that are considered low-shedding and may be suitable.

1.  Sphynx

The Sphynx is a hairless breed. This makes it an excellent choice if you want to avoid shedding. It is also an incredibly friendly cat that makes an excellent companion.

grey sphynx cat on a wooden table
Image Credit: Igor Lukin, Pixabay

2. Siberian

Siberian cats have long fur, so it may come as a shock that they are considered hypoallergenic. One reason for this is that they shed very little. Their genetic material is also being studied since they present some mutations (gene changes) that could be responsible for a reduced production of Fel d1.

solid white siberian cat
Image Credit: Nynke van Holten, Shutterstock

3. Russian Blue

Russian Blues are short-haired cats that do not shed often. They are also believed to produce fewer allergens than the average cat.

russian blue cat
Image Credit: jumyoung youn, Pixabay

4. Balinese

Balinese are friendly cats with long coats, but they shed very little compared to other long-haired felines. They are also thought to produce less Fel d1.

Balinese Cat Sitting On A Cherry Tree
Image Credit: Fazlyeva Kamilla, Shutterstock

5. Javanese

The Javanese cat has a fine topcoat and sheds less than the average cat.

tricolor javanese cat
Image Credit: abraham rizky sutadi, Shutterstock

6. Devon Rex

Devon Rex cats are known for their large ears and their Poodle-like fur. They do not require much maintenance and shed very little.

Devon rex cat on couch
Image Credit: klevers, Shutterstock

7. Cornish Rex

The Cornish Rex only has a single coat of fur. For comparison, most cats have three. Due to this, they shed less and might spread fewer allergens through the house.

Cornish rex in the grass
Image Credit: Rita_Kochmarjova, Shutterstock

Final Thoughts

Oriental Shorthairs make great companions. Their short, fine coats prevent them from shedding often. Although this breed is relatively low maintenance, it is still essential to groom your Oriental Shorthair often. This will help keep your cat clean and healthy and prevent the accumulation of allergens throughout your home. Of course, your specific sensitivity will play a prominent role in determining whether or not the Oriental Shorthair is suitable for you.

Featured Image Credit: Manuel Keller, Unsplash

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