It is possible to get a hypoallergenic cat, although there are some caveats involved in the purchase of hypoallergenic cats which should be carefully considered. Primarily, the issue is that “hypo” means “less,” not “none,” so a hypoallergenic cat is less likely to cause allergic reactions in people with cat allergies, rather than being free of all potential allergens. This means that for someone with severe allergies, a hypoallergenic cat could still represent a health risk.
Before searching specifically for a hypoallergenic cat, it can pay to confirm that allergies are genuinely being caused by a cat. There are a wide range of causes and factors involved in allergies, and it can take time and money to narrow down specific allergens. General practitioners are often inclined to zero in on common allergens like pets when a patient presents with allergies, rather than recommending an allergy specialist who can precisely identify the cause of an allergy. For someone recently diagnosed with a cat allergy who loves cats, investing in allergy testing may be less costly than obtaining a hypoallergenic cat.
Cat allergies appear to be caused by proteins which are secreted by the sebaceous glands in the skin. These proteins enter the air in the cat's dander, the dead skin and hair shed by the cat. Hypoallergenic cats tend to have less fur than regular cats, reducing the amount of dander, and they may shed less as well. Some breeds appear to produce less of the allergenic proteins than conventional cats.
Several cat breeds appear to be hypoallergenic. Hypoallergenic breeds include: Siberians, Russian Blues, Sphynxes, Cornish Rexes, Devon Rexes, LaPerms, Balinese, Javanese, and Oriental Shorthairs. These cat breeds have a range of appearances and body types. At least one company has also made claims that it has genetically engineered a hypoallergenic cat, although these claims have been difficult to substantiate due to lack of peer review.
Some animal activists have raised concerns about the demand for hypoallergenic cats, arguing that it feeds a larger demand for purebred animals. Breeding of cats and dogs is a significant bone of contention, so to speak, in some areas of the world because some people feel that breeding decreases genetic diversity while also contributing to the large numbers of homeless pets around the world. People who do want to purchase a cat from a breeder should seek out a reputable facility, or consider obtaining a hypoallergenic breed from a purebred rescue organization.