Breeds

Are Scottish Fold Cats Hypoallergenic?

Are Scottish Folds suitable for those with cat allergies? Are Scottish Fold cats hypoallergenic? Is there even such thing as a hypoallergenic feline? We've got the answers to these questions and more.

Tara Maurer holding cat smiling

Last Updated: January 24, 2024 | 6 min read

A woman sneezing in front of a Scottish fold cat on a sofa.

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The distinctive Scottish Fold is loved for its charming personality and unique appearance. Along with their signature folded ears, the Scottish Fold displays a rounded face and large, round eyes, giving them the appearance likened to that of a teddy bear or owl. These quirky cats are also famous for sitting like humans—posing upright with their legs stretched out and paws on their belly. Because of their trademark features and winning temperament, Scottish Fold cats are sought after by many.

Are you in love with the idea of rooming with a Scottish Fold, but you also suffer from cat allergies? You’re not alone—millions of Americans live with cats and dogs despite being allergic to them. As a result, we’ve now begun labeling certain breeds as hypoallergenic—unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. This leads to the obvious question: Are Scottish Fold cats hypoallergenic?

Unfortunately, the Scottish Fold is not considered hypoallergenic. Still, if you’re obsessed with the idea of a Scottish Fold feline, there are many ways to reduce the likelihood of allergic reactions. As a fellow cat allergy sufferer, I have advice for you on how to successfully live with a furry feline.

Are Scottish Fold Cats Hypoallergenic?

A Scottish Fold cat sneezing.
This breed is not an ideal choice for those with cat allergies.

Pet allergies affect a significant portion of the population—10 to 20 percent of people globally. Because we can’t resist the nuzzles and purrs of a friendly feline, many allergy sufferers look for allergy-friendly pets that are 100% snuggable without the runny nose and itchy eyes that typically follow.

Unfortunately, the Scottish Fold does not make the list of hypoallergenic cats.

What Are Cat Allergies?

Woman sneezes in her handkerchief, runny nose while holding a cat Maine Coon.
All cats produce allergens that can cause constant symptoms.

You know you have cat allergies, but what does that mean exactly? An allergic reaction occurs when the body’s immune system misinterprets a usually non-toxic substance—grass, pollen, a particular food, and more—as a harmful invader. Your immune system responds to this perceived threat by releasing substances called histamines.

Histamines produce a wide range of bodily reactions, such as increased mucus production, skin rashes, and sneezing. In the case of an actual threat, say, the flu virus, these reactions form an essential line of defense against invaders, helping to trap and expel them. Thus, you recover that much quicker. But during the false alarm of an allergic reaction, the body overreacts to an otherwise harmless substance.

For those with cat allergies, your body responds to the proteins in cat dander (skin flakes), saliva, and urine. The symptoms of cat allergies vary, but common symptoms of cat allergies include:

  • Coughing
  • Headache
  • Hives, rashes, or other skin eruptions
  • Fatigue
  • Fluid retention
  • Nasal congestion
  • Red, itchy, or watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Swelling of the throat and tongue
  • Wheezing

If you experience difficulty breathing or develop hives that spread rapidly, get emergency help immediately. Allergic reactions like these can quickly become fatal.

Hypoallergenic Cats

So, we know that Scottish Fold cats are not hypoallergenic, but what does that mean? What makes one cat better for allergy sufferers than another?

Hypoallergenic refers to anything unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. Two factors determine whether a breed is classified as hypoallergenic.

First, scientists have discovered that certain cats produce less Fel d 1 protein—a major cause of cat allergies in humans. Fel d 1 protein is found in a cat’s dander, saliva, and urine, making it virtually impossible to avoid when you live with a cat. A 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.

That being said, a few cats produce lower levels of Fel d 1 protein. Thus, they are less likely to give you a runny nose post-cuddles. The following are hypoallergenic breeds that produce less Fel d 1 protein:

The second factor in achieving hypoallergenic status is shedding levels. While all cats shed—even hairless breeds—those felines that need only minimal grooming may be a better choice for allergy sufferers.

Felines spend a significant portion of their day grooming themselves. This self-care practice cleans the coat by removing loose hair, dander, and debris. Cat saliva contains proteins and enzymes that function as natural antibacterial agents, so your kitty’s fur is always in tip-top shape.

A cat’s tongue is covered in sharp spines called papillae that wick saliva into the undercoat. These papillae are great for keeping your cat’s coat clean and their skin cool. However, each time you pet your cat, you’re coming in contact with allergens. When your cat sheds hair and dander throughout the home, you also come in contact with allergens. Even tidying the litter box can lead to exposure.

The less shedding and grooming your cat does, the less likely you will experience an allergic reaction. You’ll often find cats with low shedding and short coats on the list of hypoallergenic cats.

Some low-shedding breeds include:

  • Bengal
  • Cornish Rex
  • Donskoy
  • Devon Rex

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

14 Tips To Reduce Allergic Reactions

Asian woman sneezing with cat walking by.
Living with cat allergies takes some work if you want to keep your furball.

Depending on the severity of your allergies, you may still be able to live with a Scottish Fold despite your allergies. Follow these 14 tips to reduce the chance of an allergic response.

  1. Groom your pet daily. A few quick swipes with a boar bristle brush can quickly catch loose hair and dander before it becomes tumbleweed throughout your home. Ensure you wash your hands afterward to remove any allergens on your skin.
  2. Clean your home regularly. Cleaning removes allergens from your environment. Pay extra attention to soft surfaces where your cat likes to nap, such as a favorite chair or cozy blanket.
  3. Invest in air purifiers. While expensive, air purification is the best way to remove allergens from the air. Pick an air purifier with a HEPA filter and place multiple around your home, especially in areas your feline frequents.
  4. Use anti-allergen spray. These sprays work by neutralizing allergens in the air. They can be used on hard and soft surfaces.
  5. Plan regular bath times. Use a cat-safe shampoo to remove allergens and clean your cat’s coat.
  6. Apply dander remover to your feline’s coat. Dander remover applied once per week to your pet’s coat is an alternative to baths.
  7. Wash your hands after petting your cat. In addition, keep your kitty away from your face and avoid touching your eyes after handling your cat.
  8. Make the bedroom a no-cat zone. Reduce allergy triggers in your sleep by keeping your pet away from your bed.
  9. Keep your pet off your clothes. Anything on your body for an extended period should be hair-free.
  10. Purchase allergy-reducing cat food. Purina Pro Plan’s LiveClear cat food promises to reduce Fel d 1 protein by an average of 47 percent after three weeks of daily feeding.
  11. Clean the litter box as often as possible. Cleaning your cat’s litter pan removes the allergy-causing protein in your pet’s urine.
  12. Use antihistamines and decongestants. For symptomatic relief, use an over-the-counter allergy medication. Consider allergy shots as a long-term option. This immunotherapy introduces a small amount of the allergen into your body to decrease sensitivity to allergens and provide lasting relief from allergy systems, even when the treatment is stopped.
  13. Try natural remedies. Quercetin and vitamin C have a natural antihistamine effect. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) reduces allergic and inflammatory responses. Nasal irrigation using a saline solution will reduce sinus symptoms related to allergies.
  14. Watch your diet. Eliminate mucus-forming foods from your diet. These foods include all dairy products, fried and processed foods, refined flour, eggs, and chocolate. Drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily to thin mucus secretions. Keep your immune system healthy by eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Healthy fats like flaxseeds and fish oil reduce inflammatory responses associated with allergies.

7 Factors That Affect Shedding

All felines shed to remove damaged hair and release natural oils that moisturize the skin. Most kitties shed heaviest in the spring and fall. However, many other factors can affect the frequency of your pet’s shedding:

  1. Age: As our pets age, their grooming may become more sporadic, resulting in more fur around the home.
  2. Allergies: If your cat suffers from allergies, an allergic reaction could cause skin inflammation and hair loss.
  3. Diseases: Kidney, liver, and thyroid disease can lead to increased shedding.
  4. Infections: Your cat may experience increased shedding due to a bacterial or fungal infection.
  5. Nutrition: To reduce shedding, ensure your cat stays hydrated and is getting adequate nutrients.
  6. Pregnancy: Hormonal changes may increase hair loss.
  7. Temperature: Cats shed more frequently when it’s warm.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions we frequently get asked by our readers regarding Scottish Folds and shedding. Don’t see yours? Ask us in the comments.

Do Scottish Fold Cats Shed?

Expect your Scottish Fold to shed all year around, with heavier shedding periods in the spring and fall.

How Often Should I Brush My Scottish Fold?

Because Scottish Folds are prone to excessive shedding, they require lots of grooming. Groom your Scottish Fold weekly to avoid furballs and matted fur.

Low Shedding Cat Breeds

View our top picks for low-shedding cat breeds. We also share the 13 worst breeds for those with cat allergies.

Why Trust Love Your Cat?

As a cat lover who also struggles with allergies, Tara knows that not even the threat of a runny nose and itchy eyes can keep feline fanatics away from a cuddly kitty. While no cat is entirely hypoallergenic, many of us can still live happily with a feline companion.

Tara has personally tested various techniques to reduce allergic reactions, including air purifiers, natural remedies, over-the-counter antihistamines, and diet therapy. She spends countless hours researching the most up-to-date, science-backed data and works alongside an experienced team to bring the best content to our readers.

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