Are Tabby Cats Hypoallergenic?

Are Tabby Cats Hypoallergenic

Are you prone to allergies but still want to own a cat? You can still own one even if you’re allergic to dander, just opt for hypoallergenic cat breeds.  Note that no cat breed is completely allergenic-free, even those commonly nominated hypoallergenic.

Are tabby cats hypoallergenic?

No, tabby cats are not hypoallergenic because being tabby does not determine the amount of Fel d1 levels in a cat’s saliva, which some humans are allergic to.  Being tabby is a fur pattern among cats and not a breed and as such does have any correlation to the likelihood of allergic reaction to the cat. 

Some cat breeds have lower Fel d1 levels although none are exactly hypoallergenic. What causes allergies is the cats saliva. Cats tend to lick their fur regularly. When they do this, Fel d1 molecules, which are the main cause of allergies, are transferred to their fur.   

Symptoms of a cat allergy may include:

  • Eye irritation
  • Sneezing
  • rashes on the chest and face
  • coughing 
  • wheezing 
  • skin redness 
  • red and itchy eyes 
  • runny, itchy, and stuffy nose

Despite having cat allergies, you may still be able to own a cat by choosing a low allergen or hypoallergenic cat that produces fewer allergens. They produce less of the Fel d1 protein molecules and light-colored female hypoallergenic kittens are known to produce the least.  While this does not guarantee that you will not ha an reaction, it will significantly reduce the likelihood. Cat breeds considered hypoallergenic include the Devon Rex, Cornish Rex, Javanese, Sphynx, Oriental Shorthair, Russian Blue, Balinese, Bengal, Siberian and Colorpoint Shorthair. Also, generally speaking, a hairless cat can cause less allergies than long haired ones.  

What is a tabby cat? 

The term “tabby” is not a cat breed but a coat pattern.  Tabby cats may have patterns like stripes, whorls or spirals and spots. Usually, an M shaped marking is seen on the head of these cats and the pattern can manifest among both purebred and mixed breed cats. The name tabby is believed to come from the word “atabi” which is a type of striped silk and made in Attabiah in the Middle East. 

Tabby cats have a lifespan of almost 20 years, given proper care. You may also check out our article on how long do tabby cats live for a detailed discussion. Tabbies are known to be outgoing, playful, affectionate, and intelligent. They are extroverts, sociable  and good companions for kids but red tabbies or orange, ginger and marmalade tabbies are known to be bossy. 

Cat breeds that are exhibit the tabby pattern include the American Curl, Manx, Norwegian Forest, Maine Coon, Ocicat, Scottish Fold, Singapura and Ragdoll, among others. Famous tabby cats include the cartoon character Garfield, Orangey, the co-star of Audrey Hepburn in the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”  and Freya, owned by British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. Check out our earlier article on why orange tabby cats are affectionate for some interesting facts about tabbies. 

These are the five tabby coat patterns:

1. Classic tabby 

The pattern among classic tabbies is made up of whorls, shapes that resemble a target on the cat’s side. This coat pattern is also referred to as a blotched tabby and the pattern is likened to a marble cake.  

2. Mackerel tabby 

Mackerel tabbies have ring patterns around the tails and legs and bands of broken or solid strips on the rest of their bodies running perpendicular to the spine and resembling that of a fishbone. 

3. Ticked tabby 

Ticked tabbies may have the signature M masking on their forehead and may only have stripes or spots on the legs. However, you may notice that their individual hairs, also called agouti hairs, have bands of light and dark coloring if you look at them closely. 

4. Patched tabby 

Patched tabbies have dark or grayish-brown patches as well as red or orange.  They are also called tortoiseshell or tortie tabbies since the orange and brown spots are identical to patterns seen in the shell of a tortoise. 

5. Spotted tabby

Spotted tabbies have distinct round spots that vary in size and may resemble broken stripes closely similar to mackerel tabbies.  The spots are against a background of fur with a lighter hue. 


Tabby cats are special because they are affectionate, sociable, playful and get along well with people and kids. They are not a specific breed but they came to be called as such because of their unique patterns of spots, stripes and spirals or rings. Tabbies are not hypoallergenic compared to some cats like the Sphynx and Russian Blue.

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