This month’s contribution is part one about allergies and the Siberian Cat.
If you did not get a chance to read our January post 'The argument for the Neva Masquerade Siberian – is there a ‘point’ or is it all fake news?' you can still catch-up here
Or our February contribution 'Why breed the Siberian Cat? What’s in it for me?' try here
Allergies and the Siberian Cat - part one.
After fifteen years of breeding, we get asked most frequently about allergies and the Siberian Cat. The following is based on my experience and research and is intended for a guide to anyone who has a cat allergy and is looking for a companion pet.
Is the Siberian cat hypoallergenic?
No is the definitive answer. The term ‘hypoallergenic’ Siberian Cat is a misnomer at best and a misrepresentation at worst. The Siberian cat Club UK requests that breeders who are members do not describe their cats as hypoallergenic. Caveat Emptor.
What causes my cat allergy?
Research has identified Fel-d1 allergen which accounts for over eighty percent of reactions to cats. This allergen originates in the saliva and as the cat grooms, is deposited on the fur. The saliva then dries and floats off – called dander – which is inhaled or deposited on the skin through grooming, stroking or directly by the cat licking the human, causing a reaction.
My friend has a Siberian and is allergic to cats. I have an allergy to cats. Can I have a Siberian?
So, I can say, possibly. You would need an allergy test with several Siberians to see what your reaction is. Be cautious particularly if you have asthma. We do not place kittens in homes were anyone has a cat allergy and asthma.
What is an allergy test?
Generally, you will visit the breeder’s home and they will allow you access to their cats, particularly the parents of a litter available. You will probably need to stay about an hour – most allergies erupt after twenty mins – and then wait twenty four hours after to be sure there is no adverse effect.
...I have an allergy to cats, can I have a Siberian? So, I can say, possibly...
I cannot get an allergy test can I use fur samples?
No, this does not give a reliable result and should be avoided.
Can I have my cat tested for Fel-d1?
Yes, but it does not guarantee a continued result. Hormones, age, stress and illness can all alter levels, so one test would not guarantee a low count. Cats tested do not guarantee offspring will be low allergen levels.
When the sire and dam have normal Fel D 1 levels, all kittens tend to have normal allergen levels*.
If either the sire or dam has lower Fel D 1 levels, about half of the kittens from the litter will have allergen levels that are lower than normal - though not exceptionally low*.
If both the sire and dam are low allergen, the kittens will range from very low to full normal (high allergen)*
In the early research into this allergen and Siberians a UK breeder experimented with testing their cats and their results were consistent with this.
Can I be tested for my cat allergy?
Yes, this is always a good idea – you may think your allergy is the cat, but your allergy may be the litter – particularly dust – and/or a particular grooming product or even stress around cats.
Have you done allergy tests or ever placed Siberian cats and kittens in allergy homes?
Yes, and this is what I have found:
Some people are allergic to kittens but not cats.
It does not make any difference for allergens whether the cat is a boy or girl colourpoint of full colour.
Some people visit because they have an allergy to cats, but their partner desperately wants a cat, but they do not. Allergies mysteriously materialise after the couple have returned home…
I have placed many kittens and a cat to a lovely lady who was allergic to the kittens. However, I have also spent hours with people who have had reactions and their disappointment is felt by all.
So, my advice is to think carefully about your next steps. Test kits and fur samples are a waste of time and money and are just a sales gimmick. In the USA the low allergen properties of the early Siberians was exploited and has transferred itself to the UK. The Siberian Cat should not be marketed as a cat just for allergy sufferers – there are several cats that produce less reaction for some people and allergy sufferer should explore all options.
In the last five years the Siberian Cat has exploded as a popular breed in Europe and many imported lines now resemble the Ragdoll or Ragamuffin due to unauthorised outcrossing. Think very carefully about buying a Siberian Cat if you have an allergy to cats, particularly if you are planning a family – you may be less susceptible, but your children may not be, and this could result in your having to rehome your cat or kitten.
We no longer do allergy testing, but if you are sure you want a Siberian Cat we offer the option of you having an ‘allergy buddy’ – someone who does not have an allergy to cats who you know and trust who is not living in the same house who will take you cat for you if your allergy manifests and is too much to cope. Having a ‘buddy’ is always a good idea when adopting a pet and changes in circumstances can happen and a trusted friend or family member who can help you out is good planning.
That’s it for now. In May we will look at colour in the Siberian Cat...see you next month.