We get a lot of questions about allergies and Siberians. Hopefully the information below will help you understand and decide if a Siberian cat is an option for you.
Cat Allergy Facts
Every cat has allergens. There is No such thing as a non-allergenic cat.
A number of different allergens have been identified in cats, but only one of these, called “Fel d1”, is specific to cats alone; the others can also be found in other mammals such as dogs, hamsters, and horses.
A common misconception is that allergen levels is caused by cat hair, which is why a lot of people do not believe a long hair breed, such as the Siberian cat, can be hypo-allergenic. However the Fel d1 protein is created in the saliva, skin and anal glands of the cat and ends up on the cat’s fur via grooming. As this Fel d1 protein is quite sticky, it then glues itself onto dust particles, the home, your clothing and also onto the cat`s fur. Later, as the protein dries it has the capacity to become airborne and it is this airborne form of the protein which causes the extreme inflammatory response in certain individuals. Therefore it is not the cat’s fur that you may be allergic to and hence long haired or short-haired and even hairless cats can all cause reactions in allergic individuals.
The Fel d1 production is regulated by the cat’s hormones. It used to be thought that females produced lower levels of Fel d1 than males however recent research has dispelled this myth and it has been showed that both male and female Siberians can produce very low levels of the allergen. The level of Fel d1 does however increase as the cat matures and hormones increase and thus spaying/neutering will reduce the allergen levels produced by the cat. That said, when living with a cat the repeated exposure to cat allergens may also reduce an individual’s reaction to the cat. It is thought that high levels of exposure to the allergen may induce the production of “regulatory T cells” in the body. Researchers believe that immune system responses are normally kept under control by these special cells. (2005) Cats and Allergies. PLoS Med 2(3): e94
If you suffer from allergies to dogs and other animals as well as cats, chances are you will still have an allergic reaction to a Siberian cat. Most (Not All) Siberians are low in the Fel d1 protein which is specific to cats, so if you react to other animals it is not just the Fel d1 you are reacting to. The Siberian Research Inc, a not-for-profit corporation, believes that if you are allergic to cats and not any other animals you are most likely only allergic to the Fel d1. They believe that Fel d1 accounts for around 60% of allergic reactions to cats.
The more things a person is allergic too the less likely is the chance of tolerating a Siberian. In addition to the Fel d1 there are also Fel d2 (serum albumin) and Fel d4 (lipocalin). People who react to Fel d2 usually also have allergies to dogs and or egg white. People who react to Fel d4 usually also have asthma. It is important to note that there are currently no tests for Fel d2 and Fel d4 levels in cats, only Fel d1 levels can be tested. So a cat that has low levels of Fel d1 might still not be an option for people with allergies to Fel d2 and Fel d4.
Siberians and Allergies
It has been claimed that Siberians produce much less of this Fel-d1 allergen protein than any other breed. Because of this, the Siberian cat is often mentioned as a good choice for allergy sufferers but any prospective owner must remember that “hypoallergenic” means having a decreased tendency to provoke an allergic reaction, as opposed to the term “non-allergenic” which means having no tendency to provoke an allergic reaction. It really depends on the individual and her or his allergies. t may also depend on the time of year and the amount of other allergens you are coming in contact with. The histamine response that your body produces when it attempts to counter an “invading” protein, has a cumulative effect in your body. So if it is hay fever season and you are affected your histamine levels will be up, then if your carpet is dusty that adds to the trouble, then if you eat high histamine food (yeast, aged cheese, processed meats etc) or drink alcohol) these add up too. Please note that there are currently no real proof of the lower allergen level of the Siberian cat as tests have proven inconclusive.As with any cat breed, kittens have lower allergen levels than and adult cat and spayed/neutered cats have lower levels than a whole cat. Please remember that it takes the Siberian up to 5 years to mature so the allergens build up over a long time.
My Allergy Story
When I was 12 months old my parents discovered, the hard way, that I was severely allergic to most things and had life-threatening asthma. It was Christmas and they had bought a lovely pine tree to decorate the house with. Not long after they brought it inside I was turning blue and could not breathe. My history of allergies and asthma had begun. This continued throughout my childhood and of course I grew up to become a real animal lover. However to my disappointment I could not tolerate cats, dogs, birds, hamsters, guinea pigs – basically if I found the animal cute you’d bet I would have a reaction. I don’t know how many times I went to the ER because I couldn’t breathe after being with my friends and their animals. I loved horses and tried horse riding but couldn’t touch them without getting blisters all over my skin. So as a child all I ever dreamt of was a cat or dog but naturally that never happened, instead I was confined to aquariums and fish keeping. Whilst fish are great pets, I love them to this day! But let’s face it – they are not quite as cuddly as a cat or dog or even a hamster.
Fast forward a couple of years after meeting my husband and we (or I should probably say I) decided we needed animals in our life. I trawled the internet for information about fur less cats and dogs and in the process I learnt more about allergies and cats than ever before I also stumbled across Siberians and started to read and learn.
After about a year of reading and preparing we welcomed our Maisie home, not without bumps in the road. I was (unbeknownst to me at the time) allergic to toys with feathers, cat litter, and some of the food we fed her. Of course I thought I was allergic to Maisie. It became so bad that we were going to return her to the breeder. But just before doing that my husband looked at my symptoms and suggested we remove the feather toys, just in case and just like that my allergies started to stabilise. One by one we noticed the food, the cat litter, etc. and once we had solved those we realised that Maisie wasn’t the problem! So for the first time ever I was the proud owner of a cat a long haired, beautiful Siberian cat!
Fast forward 15 more years and here we are the proud owners and breeders of Siberians! Never could I ever have imagined being this lucky! Sometimes I do still feel slightly allergic, especially during spring and/or when the cats are moulting but all symptoms are kept at bay with normal, over the counter allergy tablets such as Clarityn, Zyrtec and Fexofenadine. I am still allergic to a bunch of other things such as dairy, gluten, eggs and mould. I manage them all as best as I can and by doing so my body can focus on combating the cat allergens if and when needed.
Below are some suggestions based on my own experience of living with cats and allergies.
- NEVER let the cat(s) be in your bedroom or sleep with you. Your body needs those 8 hours of rest from the cats. Allergens will still enter the bedroom via clothing and vacuums but the levels should be low enough for an allergic person to tolerate
- Invest in a GOOD air purifier complete with a proper HEPA filter this will make all the difference! I have recently invested in two Blue Air Sense and they are wonderful.
- Invest in a great vacuum with HEPA filter. We have a Dyson Animal.
- Immunotherapy is a proven way to de-sensitise for different types of allergies. I have myself used it for hay fever and cat allergies. I highly recommend anyone allergic to look into this kind of treatment.
- Be wary of feather toys I found out that I am terrible allergic to them, much more so than to the cats!
- Feed the cats a proper raw diet. Their faeces will smell so much less and in turn this will cause less allergy problems.
- Have a non-allergic person clean out the cat toilet and use the least dusty cat litter you can find.
- Have a non-allergic person groom the cats or do it outdoors.
- Shower your cat(s) once every 2 weeks. Make sure you don’t dry out their skin so please use a proper cat shampoo.
- Look into what you can do with your other allergies to alleviate the pressure on your immune system. I no longer drink milk, eat gluten or egg. This leaves more room for my body to fight of the cat allergens!
- Don t think of the Siberian as a miracle non-allergenic breed. It’s not, but if you are prepared to work with the allergies then a Siberian might work for you.
Please remember that nothing else matters more than you and your family members health. Please don’t risk it just because you want to have an animal.
We offer allergy sittings for a non refundable fee of £50. This is then deductible from the total price of one of our kittens
An allergy sitting lasts for around 30-45 minutes and takes place in our home. You will meet and pet our cats and we’ll see how you react to them. You will always meet the parents to your potential kitten and we are happy to say that throughout our 10 years of being active we have never had a kitten returned where an allergy sitting with the parents was successful. Usually, an allergy attack will come on sudden and fast but we do recommend that you monitor yourself for a period of 24 hours after the visit. If you still have had no reaction it was a successful sitting and you are likely to be able to tolerate a kitten from us. I
An allergy sitting is not a guarantee that you won’t be allergic to a kitten but it will expose you to a lot of allergens and all our cats who move freely throughout our entire house (except the bedroom). Please note that we do have some neuter Siberian cats of our own so you will be exposed to a lot of allergens.
We do not send fur samples or anything else as means of allergy testing as we don’t think that it would give you a proper indication of how allergic you are. We believe it is important to be a in a house where the cats are/have lived and moved around and allergens are everywhere to properly test the allergies. A fur sample will contain very few allergens and therefore we don’t feel it is something you should waste your time on.