Are Siberian cats hypoallergenic?
Allergies are, and rightfully so, a serious consideration for people thinking about getting a pet. After all, no one wants to sneeze or cough all day long. Are you considering adopting a new Siberian kitten, but suffering from cat allergies, or suspect you may be suffering from them? Are Siberian cats hypoallergenic?
First of all, you are not alone! Almost 10% of the world population is allergic to pets of various kinds, and most of those people are allergic to cats. (That’s so unfair!) Some are allergic to cat hair, some can’t tolerate cat saliva, and some have no idea why they itch and sneeze in presence of these otherwise harmless animals. They just know they feel noticeably worse around cats.
Siberian cats, among some other breeds, are often described as hypoallergenic – causing little to no allergy in people predisposed to it. But is that true? And how do you know? Here is what you will learn from this article:
Well, that really depends – first and foremost, on what exactly you are allergic too. You’ve probably never thought about that question. Aren’t you just allergic to cats in general?
The answer to that is no! But you are allergic to something in cats, so to say. For example, you can be allergic to cat dander, cat saliva, cat hair or cat urine. (There, I said it.) That’s a lot of things to be allergic to! Most of the people, however, seem to be allergic to cat hair or cat saliva.
To narrow it down even more, when it comes to the saliva allergy, what you are really allergic to is the Fel D-1 protein that it contains. But how does a pesky protein from cat saliva end up in the air? Well, by constantly licking itself, your cat spreads the culprit all over its fur. (And you know how much time cats spend licking themselves!) The saliva dries up, and the protein spreads in the air, causing reactions in allergy sufferers. That’s why those poor folks get runny noses and itchy eyes in presence of a cat even when they are at a distance. Sometimes people will even react in a room where a cat used to live months or years before! Allergy to cat saliva (namely, to Fel D-1 protein) is the most widespread type of cat allergy out there.
Other, more rare types of allergy are allergies to cat hair, cat dander or cat urine. They are a little less widespread. If you want to know which type of allergy you suffer from, visit an allergist to do the tests that will give you the answer. You might also find out just how strong your allergy is towards different types of allergens. That might be useful when it comes the time for you to decide whether you are ready to have a cat in your life or not. If it’s just a slight allergy (a light cough, for example) for a certain allergen, that seems to disappear fairly soon, you might be OK getting a cat. Your small allergy might even taper off with time. But if you are getting throat constriction and other bad reactions, you might be better off putting that decision away for a while, if not giving up on the idea altogether.
If you are allergic to cat saliva, a Siberian cat could be a good choice for you. Of course, as you might have guessed by now, they are not completely hypoallergenic cats. The truth is, no cat is hypoallergenic because they all produce saliva, most have fur and all have dander. (Sometimes a lot of it). However, the Siberian cat has only a very small amount of Fel D-1 in its saliva compared to most other breeds of cats. This amount is so small, in fact, as to be almost considered negligible.
This is why Siberian cats could be perfect for cat saliva allergy sufferers. Lots of people that could never come close to a cat notice their symptoms are less pronounced or completely absent with Siberian cats. However, if you are allergic to cat hair, urine or dander, you might still find that the symptoms persist.
Never give up on your idea to own a kitten or cat, even if you are allergic. Cat allergy can be manageable if you put some effort into it, and at times, people who used to be allergic to cats, experience fewer symptoms or even completely cease being allergic after some time spent living with their cat. Often people are allergic to all cats but their own. However, having said that, do not neglect the fact that you are allergic and do not expect to magically get rid of your allergy once the new kitten steps into your house. It does happen (not magically, but with time), but no one can guarantee it will happen to you. Remember also, that sometimes you won’t feel as many allergy symptoms in presence of a kitten, but you might, once the kitten grows up. Adult cats produce far more allergens than little kittens.
However, cat allergy is manageable, and here is what you can do:
- Male cats produce more Fel D-1 than female cats. Although it shouldn’t be your main defining factor, do consider it. If you want to mitigate your allergy, do pick a female kitten if you can.
- Intact males produce more allergen than neutered males. If you ended up getting a male kitten, neuter it in the right time (which you will most likely have to do in any case according to the contract with your breeder), and you will give yourself more chances for an allergy-free life. (And also a better life for your kitten!)
- Nobody knows why, but dark-colored cats produce more allergens than cats with lighter fur. Siberians often have kittens of all colors in the litter. Pick lighter-colored one if you can.
- Kittens produce fewer allergens than adult cats. If you want to gauge your allergy levels, hang around the kitten’s parents, not the kitten. Of course, on the other hand, the only place you could really spend any time around the kitten’s parents would be your breeder’s home, and there are probably half a dozen cats there, if not more. In such conditions, your allergy will most likely flare up more than if you were only in presence of one or two cats. Keep that in mind.
Number one, whether you have cat allergy or not, is always to make sure you are adopting your Siberian cat from a good breeder! You can learn more about how to find, and what to look for a good breeder here.
If you are adopting your kitten from a breeder, ask them if you will be able to return the cat in case your allergy flares up and becomes unmanageable. A good breeder will always keep this option open for you. (But do not expect a refund as most breeders would not offer it!) If you are adopting from a rescue center, they will always accept the cat back too. It’s important to understand that even a cat that’s considered hypoallergenic might not be a solution for you. Bringing the cat home and then returning it back will be very stressful for both of you but more so for the cat, so it’s really best to make sure you have thought your decision through!
Even if you are allergic to cats, there are ways to mitigate and manage the allergy without giving up on your dream of owning a cat. You just have to know how to do it. Although nothing can guarantee that your allergy will go away (or reduce significantly), there really are steps to make it milder.
Don’t let your cat sleep in your bedroom.
Granted, your cat might not like this one, but you certainly will, when you notice your allergy symptoms subside! Also, you’ll get a better sleep.
Wash the cat’s bedding and toys often!
If you are allergic to the protein in the cat saliva, reducing the amount of it in your environment might bring a degree of relief! Although your cat is most likely roaming around the house all day long, their bedding and toys probably contain more saliva and dander than any other spot. For better results, wash them at least once a week.
Are Siberian cats hypoallergenic? Heavy artillery in managing cat allergy
Clean your house! You should be doing it often enough whether you have a cat or not, but especially if you do, and if you have allergies. Even apart from saliva and dander, you Siberian cat will leave lots of hair around the house. Consider getting a specialized cleaning device, such as a HEPA vacuum cleaner that’s able to not only get rid of the stray hair but also trap dander particles out of surfaces. It might just be a purchase of the year! I am not advertising this so there is no link 😉
Keep your distance
It might be very tempting to snuggle and cuddle with your little furry love all the time. However, it’s not the best thing to do if you are allergic to your cat. Keep your cat away from your face and try not to touch your face after touching or petting your kitty. Wash your hands after every contact with the animal. It will be a bit strange at first, but you’ll get used to it. The kitty won’t be offended.
Washing your cat.
While this one is a bit drastic, and your cat might not be overly enthusiastic about that idea, research shows that giving your cat a bath a few times a week could reduce the number of allergens up to 84%. Plus you get a clean kitty! If you are getting a kitten, you can teach them to tolerate water (just be careful for your own sake!). The trick might not work as well for an older cat.
Of course, even if you do all of the above, you might not ever be completely allergy free. If your allergy flares up, you can try using allergy pills or antihistamines, but I wouldn’t recommend this long term. Drugs can certainly mask or mitigate the symptoms of your condition, but as long as the cause stays unchanged (in this case, your lovely kitten), drugs won’t help solve the problem. If you are really bothered by your allergies and they do not seem to get better or even get consistently worse, it might be a sign for you to rethink your idea of pet ownership, no matter how sad the final decision would be.
Apart from Siberian cats, there are other hypoallergenic breeds that you might want to have a look at. Of course, just like with Siberians, the word hypoallergenic isn’t entirely appropriate as all cats produce potential allergens. However, these breeds are said to produce less of it.
Sphynx. This breed doesn’t have a coat and will be perfect for people suffering from cat hair allergy. However, the protein allergen Fel D-1 is still present in their saliva. They also do have dander. If those are the things you are allergic to, you won’t be allergy free. But you might experience fewer symptoms!
Bengal. In addition to their beautiful exotic look, Bengal cats have finer coats and presumably spend less time licking themselves which reduces the number of saliva allergens they produce and release into the air. If you want a little tiger at home, this guy might be the right one for you.
Balinese. This breed, just like Siberian cats, produces less Fel D-1 and tends not to cause strong allergy symptoms even in people suffering from cat allergies. Or at least so they say.
Russian Blue. A gorgeous cat with great personality and beautiful coat! Also produces less Fel D-1 and tends to shed slightly less than a lot of other breeds.
Devon Rex. This cat has a soft, curly distinctive coat and does not shed as much as some other breeds thus alleviating some of the allergy symptoms. Their coats really are something different! They almost don’t look like cats at all but like little sheep!
Oriental short hair. Just like the name suggests, they have a short fine coat that doesn’t shed much, reducing the amount of hair, dander and allergen proteins.They can be quite vocal though, and you might develop an allergy to that.
It is really sad when someone who would love to have a pet cat in their home cannot have one because of their allergy. Are Siberian cats hypoallergenic? More so than other breeds, but not 100%! My hope is that you can find some good advice in this article that will help you understand more about your allergy, how to mitigate it and how (if possible) you still could live with a Siberian cat!
Siberian cat Guide