Are Tortoiseshell Cats Hypoallergenic?

Are Tortoiseshell Cats Hypoallergenic?

Tortoiseshell “tortie” cats are famous for their independent and strong-willed personalities.  Aside from their “tortitude,” these cats are renowned for their multicolored coats that have little or no white markings. Can’t wait to own a tortie? You may have to think twice and consider other options, especially if you have a cat allergy. 

Are Tortoiseshell cats hypoallergenic?

No, Tortoiseshell cats are not hypoallergenic. Tortoiseshell refers to a cat’s coat color and fur pattern. Cat allergies have nothing to do with the color or pattern of a cat’s fur, and no pattern is less likely to result in an allergic reaction. 

No feline is truly hypoallergenic because all of them produce Fel d 1 protein, the allergen that causes allergic reactions. The allergen can be found in a cat’s skin, saliva, and urine. Some cat breeds produce lower Fel d 1 levels, such as the Russian Blue, Sphynx, Balinese, Siberian, and Bengal. However, these breeds are still not truly hypoallergenic because they all produce the allergen. 

How to Manage Cat Allergy Symptoms 

These helpful tips can help you manage your cat allergy symptoms.

1. Your bedroom should be a cat-free sanctuary. 

Dr. Alan Goldsobel, spokesman for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, said that keeping your bedroom pet-free significantly decreases allergen levels. He also suggests the use of special beddings that are designed to be less permeable to allergens. 

2. Invest in a HEPA filter. 

A high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter removes tiny air pollutants like dander, pollen, and dust mites. This type of air filter also filters out allergens.

3. Vacuum and clean your home regularly. 

Make it a habit to vacuum floors and rooms frequently. Change furnace filters to reduce dander in the air. Change and wash bedding and wipe down the walls where your cat tends to rub.  If you can afford it, avoid using carpets and switch to hard flooring.

4. Wash your hands and face after handling your cat. 

Make it a habit to wash your hands and face after you handle or pet your cat. While bathing your cat is a good option, Dr. Goldsobel is not too keen on it. He notes that it is a transient move, and the effect can only last for a few days. He adds that it is more effective to wash your hands and face frequently.

5. Always have medication handy. 

Keep antihistamines around since you never know when a cat allergy attack may happen. Over-the-counter allergy medication relieves mild allergy symptoms like itchy eyes and nasal congestion. However, if you are suffering from asthma, you should consult your allergist. He can recommend the right prescription allergy medication for your needs. 

6. Opt for allergy shots.

You may also consider allergy shots or allergy vaccines if you are around cats on a long-term basis. It allows you to develop protective antibodies so you will not have allergic reactions when you are exposed to allergens.

Interesting facts about Tortoiseshell cats

Tortoiseshell is not an actual breed.

It is not a breed but a cat’s coat color and fur pattern. They have distinctive multicolored coats that may feature a constellation of black, amber, red, brown, red, cinnamon, or chocolate. The coat has little or no white markings. 

Torties are often confused with calico cats; calicos have coats that are predominantly white, black, and orange. 

Variations among torties include the following:

  • Dilution – When the coat has softer, muted greys and creams instead of the usual red and black.
  • Torbie –  A tortoiseshell cat with a tabby stripe. 

This coat can occur in a variety of cat breeds. 

Cat breeds who can have the tortoiseshell color pattern include the American Shorthair, British Shorthair, Persian, Cornish Rex, Japanese Bobtail, Maine Coon, and Ragamuffin. Purebreds and mixed breeds can all produce a tortoiseshell coat that is either short-haired or long-haired.  

Torties are mostly females.

Almost all torties are females.  The female sex chromosome (X) carries the gene for black and orange coat colors. With two X chromosomes, females have both orange and black coloring in their fur while males can only be either or and not both colors needed for the tortie fur.  

Torties’ coat styles include mosaic, chimera, bridled, and patched.

Mosaic style features a traditional color combination mixed randomly. The chimera style tortie has one color on one side and another color on the other side, either on the face or on the body. A Tortie’s coat is bridled if the colors appear to be woven together and patched if the colors appear in large sections all over the body. 

Torties have versatile personalities. 

Torties are known for their “tortitude” because they are fiercely independent, feisty and unpredictable. They are also curious, compassionate, cheerful and clever. 

Do tortoiseshell cats shed?

Yes, Tortoiseshell cats shed. Torties come in long haired and short haired variations; this will depend on their breed.  They may also be low-shedding or heavy-shedding cats. Secure the proper grooming tools and pay close attention to your cat’s skin and fur coat condition. 


Tortoiseshell cats are unique because of their coat colorations and patterns, as well as their feisty personalities. They are not hypoallergenic because all cats produce the Fel d 1 protein, the allergen responsible for cat allergies. Also, a Tortie is not a breed but a coat color and pattern. It does not have anything to do with cat allergies at all. 

Image: / MirasWonderland