Are American Shorthair Cats Hypoallergenic?

While often confused with the domestic shorthair, true American Shorthairs are a purebred cat praised for their robust health, sweet personality, and amiability with other pets. Are you interested in owning an American Shorthair but you're worried the cuddles will come with a cost? We'll help you decide if the American Shorthair matches your health needs.

Tara Maurer holding cat smiling

Last Updated: December 27, 2023 | 6 min read

Gray American shorthair being brushed with blue comb

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The American Shorthair is known for its sweet personality, robust health, and friendly nature. Despite looking similar to the domestic shorthair, the American Shorthair is a purebred breed first recognized by the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) in 1906, making it one of the CFA’s first registered breeds. Are you interested in bringing one of these historic cats into your home, but you suffer from allergies? In that case, you’re likely wondering if the American Shorthair cat is hypoallergenic.

A study first published in the Allergy, Asthma, Immunology Research journal found that dog and cat allergies affect 10 to 20 percent of the population globally. If you’re one of the unlucky folks who get the sniffles every time they enter a cat’s space, it’s no wonder you’re looking for a hypoallergenic cat. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a 100 percent hypoallergenic cat.

Still, some breeds have indeed been found to be more allergen-friendly. So, are American Shorthair cats hypoallergenic? We answer this question and provide additional tips for managing your allergy symptoms while living with your furry friend.

What Are Cat Allergies?

Woman sneezes in her handkerchief, runny nose while holding a cat Maine Coon

Cat allergies stem from the proteins in a cat’s saliva, dander, and urine. Those who experience allergic reactions around feline friends are actually responding to these proteins. Allergies occur when the immune system mistakenly goes on the defense against these substances as a way to protect the body. These proteins are harmless, but the immune system still overreacts and triggers a defense response.

Symptoms of allergies tend to differ from person to person. Common symptoms include:

  • Congestion
  • Itchy eyes, nose, and/or skin
  • Rashes
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes

Severe reactions are possible, including triggering an asthma attack. According to the Cleveland Clinic, 25 million people in the United States have asthma, and approximately 60 percent have allergy-induced asthma. Inhaling cat dander (skin flakes) can trigger an asthma attack in susceptible people. Symptoms include:

  • Chest tightness
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing

While uncommon, people with severe cat allergies may also experience anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a dangerous, life-threatening allergic reaction. It constricts the airways and makes breathing difficult. Histamines, the substances released by the body in response to an allergen, trigger the dilation of blood vessels, leading to a dangerous drop in blood pressure. Anaphylaxis can also cause fluid to leak into the lungs (pulmonary edema) and lead to heart rhythm disturbances.

Why certain people develop cat allergies is not entirely understood. Most people with cat allergies experience mild to moderate symptoms. For those people, purchasing a hypoallergenic or taking steps to reduce the chance of an allergic reaction may make all the difference. Depending on the severity of your allergies, you may be able to live comfortably with a furry companion. Others with severe allergies may need to avoid kitties altogether.

Hypoallergenic Cats

Russian Blue Cat licking paw

Hypoallergenic refers to anything unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. While there is no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic cat, certain breeds are less likely to leave you sniffling. There are two factors used when classifying felines as hypoallergenic. First, scientists have determined that certain breeds produce less Fel d 1 protein that causes most allergic reactions in humans. The study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reported that up to 95 percent of people with feline allergies react negatively to Fel d 1.

The following cats may produce lower levels of Fel d 1 protein:

The second factor determining whether a cat is hypoallergenic is their shedding frequency. All cats shed hair and dander, even hairless breeds. However, cats with less hair who require infrequent grooming may be a better choice for those with allergies.

According to the Cornell Feline Health Center, felines spend 30 to 50 percent of their day maintaining their coat. Grooming is an essential practice for cats. It removes loose hair, cleans the coat, and cools the skin. Scientists have discovered that the sharp spines on a cat’s tongue, called papillae, are actually able to wick saliva into the undercoat. This is fantastic for cats because their saliva is a natural antibacterial agent to clean their skin and coat. Unfortunately, saliva-coated hairs are horrible for allergy sufferers.

When cats groom, their saliva’s Fel d 1 protein is transferred to their coat. The Fel d 1 triggers your allergic reaction, so when you cuddle with your kitty, you come in contact with allergens. The less grooming your cat does, the less likely you will experience allergies. Less shedding also means fewer allergens in the air overall.

Low-shedding cat breeds include:

Our list of 15 low-shedding cats might be helpful to those with cat allergies.

Are American Shorthair Cats Hypoallergenic?

Unfortunately, the American Shorthair does not make the list of hypoallergenic cats. Despite being fantastic pets, this breed sheds frequently and is not an ideal choice for those with allergies.

13 Tips To Reduce Allergic Reactions

British Shorthair Cat laying next to brush and clumps of hair on bed

If you have mild to moderate allergies, you may still be able to live with a feline. Follow these 13 tips to reduce the chance of an allergic reaction.

  1. Brush or comb your cat daily. Regular grooming will catch loose hair and dander before it makes its way all around your home. View our picks for best cat brushes.
  2. Use a grooming vacuum. Despite our best intentions, fur can still escape our grasp while we’re busy grooming our furry friends. A grooming vacuum reduces the risk of hair tumbleweeds by sucking up excess hair as you brush.
  3. Regularly clean your home. Remove allergens from your environment by dusting, vacuuming, and sweeping.
  4. Invest in air purifiers. Purchase air purifiers that use HEPA filters and place them around your home. While they can be pricey, air purifiers are the best way to remove allergens and other particles from the air.
  5. Use an anti-allergen spray. If air purifiers aren’t in your budget, try an allergen-neutralizing spray.
  6. Bathe your cat regularly. Baths remove allergens from your cat’s coat. Use a cat-safe shampoo that won’t irritate your kitty’s skin. View our picks for best cat shampoos.
  7. Apply a dander remover weekly to your cat’s coat. If your feline won’t tolerate baths, try a dander remover.
  8. Wash your hands after touching your cat. Even if you have a hypoallergenic cat breed, you should wash your hands after handling your feline. Also, avoid touching your face and eyes.
  9. Make the bedroom a no-cat zone. Your cat should never sleep with you. If you do allow your cat in the bedroom, be ready to clean your sheets often.
  10. Keep your cat off your clothes. There are few things a cat likes more than a warm pile of laundry, but anything that will be on your body for long periods should be hair-free.
  11. Clean the litter box as often as possible. Better yet, assign this taste to another family member. Cleaning the litter box removes the allergy-causing protein in your cat’s urine.
  12. Try allergy-reducing cat food. Purina Pro Plan’s LiveClear cat food is said to reduce Fel d 1 protein by an average of 47 percent after the third week of daily feeding.
  13. Use antihistamines and decongestants to provide allergy relief. As a long-term option, allergy shots are an immunotherapy that introduces a small amount of an allergen into your body to stop the negative immune system response eventually.

Factors That Affect Shedding

Shedding occurs naturally as part of a cat’s hair growth cycle. All felines shed to remove damaged hair and discharge oil to moisturize the skin. Most kitties shed heaviest in the spring and fall; however, other factors can affect how much your feline sheds:

  • Age: As felines age, their grooming becomes more infrequent. As a result, you may notice more shedding around your home.
  • Allergies: Cats have allergies, too. When an allergic reaction occurs, it can cause skin inflammation and hair loss.
  • Diseases: Kidney, liver, and thyroid diseases can increase hair loss.
  • Infections: Bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections can cause lead to hair loss.
  • Nutrition: If your cat isn’t getting adequate nutrients, they will shed more frequently. Hydration is also crucial for a healthy coat and to reduce shedding.
  • Pregnancy: Pregnancy and lactation cause hormonal changes that increase hair loss.
  • Temperature: Cats will shed their coat when it’s warm. To reduce shedding, maintain a cooler home temperature.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Do I Groom My American Shorthair?

The American Shorthair has a short, dense coat that will do well with weekly brushing.

Are Shorthaired Cats Good For Allergies?

Just because a cat has short hair does not mean it’s safe for those with allergies. All cats can trigger an allergy attack for those that are sensitive.

What Is The Most Hypoallergenic Cat Breed?

The Siberian breed is considered one of the most hypoallergenic, producing much less Fel d 1 protein than other breeds. Please view our list of 15 low-shedding cats for other hypoallergenic cat options.

Final Thoughts

Are American Shorthair cats hypoallergenic? Unfortunately, no, they are not. Depending on the severity of your cat allergies, you can comfortably live with a furry friend. Even though the American Shorthair isn’t hypoallergenic, those with mild to moderate allergies may still be able to bring this wonderful cat into their home. Follow our advice for reducing allergens in your home, and you and your cat can live together comfortably.

Kittens eating from feeding bowl on the floor

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