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Is a Scottish Fold Hypoallergenic? Facts & FAQ


May 2, 2023
white scottish fold cat


white scottish fold cat

Some cat-loving allergy sufferers turn to cat breeds labeled as “hypoallergenic”. If you have a special place in your heart for Scottish Folds, we’re afraid this breed is not hypoallergenic. That said, the hypoallergenic label is often misunderstood.

In this post, we’ll give you the facts about hypoallergenic cats, share some information about the Scottish Fold’s coat, and offer some tips for living with a cat when you’re allergic.


The Scottish Fold’s Coat Type

The Scottish Fold has a dense, plush, and soft coat that can be either long or short, and pretty much any coat color is possible (pointed colors excepted). Shorthaired Scottish Folds’ coats are easy to care for, and only need to be brushed or combed one or two times weekly.

Longhaired Scottish Folds, on the other hand, are more prone to matting and tangles, especially on the neck, base of the tail, and “armpits”. For this reason, they’ll need to be brushed three or four times weekly, with a special focus on the “danger zones” just mentioned.

Unless a vet has advised otherwise, they’ve gotten seriously dirty, or have something gross stuck in their fur, Scottish Folds (and most other types of cats) don’t need to be bathed. Cats do a great job of keeping themselves, and even each other, clean.

That said, weekly or every other day grooming depending on the length of your Scottish Fold’s coat is still important, as it tackles mats and tangles and helps keep the skin and coat healthy.

scottish fold munchkin cat lying on pillow
Image Credit: Kellee Kovalsky, Shutterstock

Do Scottish Folds Shed?

Yes, Scottish Folds shed moderately throughout the year. When shedding seasons arrive (spring and fall), they shed more heavily. If you have a longhaired Scottish Fold, you may need to use a deshedding tool during shedding seasons, as you’ll likely see a lot more hair coming out than usual. Brushing frequency may need to be upped for shorthaired Scottish Folds during these periods, too.

What Exactly Is a Hypoallergenic Cat?

So, we’ve ascertained that Scottish Folds aren’t considered to be hypoallergenic, but, in truth, it’s a myth that certain cat breeds don’t trigger allergies at all. The term hypoallergenic only refers to breeds that shed minimally, but it doesn’t mean there is no risk of an allergic reaction. No cat, even a hairless cat like a Sphynx, is completely hypoallergenic.

This is because people with pet allergies are allergic to a protein found in animal dander (flakes of dead skin that the animal sheds),1 saliva, and urine. Therefore, even if a cat doesn’t have much hair to shed (like in the case of Sphynxes with their very fine layer of hair) or is considered low-shedding, they’ll still shed these allergens in their dander or other bodily fluids.

Living with a Cat: Tips for Allergy Sufferers

Before you get a Scottish Fold or any kind of cat, it’s important to be sure you’re making the right decision. If you think there’s a chance you might end up giving that cat away due to your allergies, then, quite honestly, it’s not going to work out. Consider the severity of your allergies and whether cat parenting is something you can truly commit to for the long run.

Fortunately, many allergy sufferers make cat parenting work.

Here are some top tips for living with a cat when you have allergies:

  • Consider low-shedding breeds (or mixes), like the Balinese, Devon Rex, Cornish Rex, Sphynx, Colorpoint Shorthair, and Javanese
  • Vacuum regularly with an allergen-proof vacuum bag or HEPA filter
  • Use an air purifier
  • Ventilate your home often
  • Wipe down surfaces in your home regularly
  • Wash any blankets or beds your cat uses frequently
  • Wash your hands after interacting with your cat
  • Avoid allowing your cat into your bedroom
  • Brush your cat regularly to reduce the amount of dander that ends up around your home
  • Spot clean the litter box every time your cat uses it
  • Consider hardwood flooring instead of carpet
  • Speak to your doctor or allergist about kinds of allergy medicine (such as antihistamines) that may help you
  • Take an allergy test to make sure it truly is your cat, and not something else, that you’re allergic to
Scottish fold cat lies on the bed
Image Credit: zossia, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

So, Scottish Folds aren’t hypoallergenic because they shed moderately year-round. On the bright side, their coats are quite easy to care for (if they’re shorthaired, at least), and many people are able to live with cats by putting in place allergy management techniques.

If you’re not sure whether cat parenting with allergies is for you, consider talking to an understanding allergist or doctor about your situation to get an idea of whether or not it would be feasible for you. You can also chat with your local rescue organization or shelter to get their input, as they’ll no doubt have encountered many people who want to adopt a cat but have allergies.

Featured Image Credit: nat Hongkham, Shutterstock

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