Siberian cats have been the subject of research for their hypoallergenic properites for many years now. A protein, Fel-d1 is released in cats via their saliva, tears, and feces. Some studies show that as high as 95% of people who have moderate to severe allergic reactions to cats can live with a Siberian cat with little to no allergic reactions. That is the case with me!
What about the 5%?
The very best way to test a person’s reaction to Siberian cats is to visit a Siberian Cattery. Spend several hours there playing with the cats and kittens. Watch carefully for allergic signs. If you tend to have severe allergic reactions to cats, consult with your physician before visiting a cattery.
Some catteries claim they can test for the levels of Fel-d1 found in their kittens. The problem with this is that kittens carry a higher level of Fel-d1 until they are about 6 months old – at which time the Fel-d1 level drops. Therefore, studies show that Fel-d1 saliva testing as well as fur testing, is not very reliable. What might be more reliable is testing the dam and sire of the kitten.
The information that follows was taken from an article by
Siberian Research Inc.
A not-for-profit corporation for the Siberian Cat
“In recent years hypoallergenic cats have repeatedly made news headlines. What is "hypoallergenic" where cats are concerned, and what are "reasonable expectations" for allergy sufferers?
Feline allergen is a very small glycoprotein created in the salivary (saliva), lacrimal (tears), sebaceous (skin), and perianal glands. Salivary Fel d1 becomes airborne during grooming, sebaceous Fel d1 tends to be distributed across the fur, with the highest levels being found near the skin. Perianal glands secrete the allergen onto the feces. The highest concentration of Fel d1 is found in the perianal glands.
Feline allergen (Fel d1) is found only in cats and accounts for up to 60% of cat allergies. Typical reactions to the allergen vary, but includes symptoms ranging from mild runny nose and itchy eyes, to severe reactions such as swollen eyes, hives or difficulty breathing. Individuals allergic to cats and not other animals are usually allergic only to Fel d1. The allergen is very stabile, and can remain in a home for six months after removal of the cat.
Ongoing research show that all cats produce some Fel d1, but the amounts are quite varied. Studies by Siberian Research have shown is a very strong correlation between the allergen level in saliva and the perceived allergic reaction in highly allergic individuals. Siberians with very low allergen levels pass this trait to some (but not all) of the kittens in the litter.”
“Testing with Fur"
Feline allergens can cause serious and potentially fatal reactions in some individuals. Allergen information provided by SRI is not a substitution for medical advice. Always consult a medical doctor prior to visiting and/or purchasing a Siberian cat. By use of this site, you discharge Siberian Research Inc. and all authors from liability regarding individuals or catteries where allergies or allergen levels are concerned.
Fur Testing has a severe limitation. Individuals with allergic reactions to horses, rabbits and some other animals may have not react to fur, but still have severe or dangerous reactions to a low allergen Siberian. In these cases, it is very important to test in person at a cattery.
When visiting a cattery is not possible, testing with a sample of fur can be tried. Testing directly with fur is preferable but you can also try testing with piece of cloth placed where the dam and kittens sleep.
Because allergen levels vary strongly in the Siberian breed, testing is most accurate when using fur from the dam and sire of the kitten that will be purchased. Allergen levels in fur often rise during late pregnancy and nursing.
Testing kittens can give incorrect reactions, as many people will react to kittens when they do not react to adult Siberians. Nursing kittens can trigger milk and albumin allergies. A common problem is dust from the litter box. Because young kittens tend to play in the litter box, the fur becomes covered in dust and allergens.
Fur samples can be sent in a zip-lock bag or sewed into a section of nylon stocking. Try the samples one at a time, and gently washing your face between trials, or try them on different days. These should help give you a good idea regarding any possible allergic reaction.
We recommend placing the fur on a pillowcase and put your face against it. The pillowcase can be shaken outside and washed to remove any residual allergen. Until you know how you react, it is prudent to be cautious.
⦁ Test in a room that is easy to cleanup if you do have a reaction.
⦁ DO NOT take fur into your bedroom, as the allergen persists.
⦁ Consult your doctor prior to testing with the fur.
⦁ Have your medications on hand in case you do have a reaction.
⦁ Antihistamines or prednisone may mask reactions.
DISCLAIMER: Feline allergens can cause serious and potentially fatal reactions in some individuals. Allergen information provided is not a substitution for medical advice. We recommend consulting a medical doctor prior to visiting and/or purchasing a Siberian cat. Siberian Research Inc. and Lundberg Siberians disclaim all liability from individuals or catteries where allergies or feline allergen levels are concerned.
© Lundberg Siberians 2004