The Russian Blue is regal, intelligent, curious and utterly gorgeous. They are also quite sensitive to their humans and love to learn tricks. So, who wouldn’t want this absolute stunner of a cat as part of their family?
However… are the rumors true?
Are Russian Blue cats actually hypoallergenic?
Russian Blue cats seem to be somewhat hypoallergenic. However, while they may produce less of the allergen, it does not necessarily make them safe for allergy sufferers!
They apparently produce less of the allergen Fel D 1, which means that the reactions they trigger can be quite a bit milder.
Additionally, their coat is quite dense, so the theory is that perhaps the allergen stays on the inside of the coat and doesn’t get spread around as much as with other cat breeds.
The Russian Blue Cat
Known to be regal beauties from Russia, these cats often form an intense bond with their humans. Meanwhile, they tend to be rather reserved and even shy with strangers, unless socialized very well.
They can be very playful, but for the most part enjoy a more tranquil and graceful lifestyle. As they are quite intelligent and enjoy spending time with their humans, learning tricks is right up their alley.
Generally, they get on well with other cats and even strangers, once they’re used to them. But as these tend to be sensitive cats, they can startle easily and are often quite prissy about the state of their litter box!
Ok, so, let’s talk about their coat.
Do they really shed less?
Well, having a fairly short and dense coat, they do seem to spread less hair about. Which, in turn, can help in preventing the allergen from getting everywhere.
Their main exciting attribute is this:
Russian Blues apparently produce less of the protein Fel D 1, which causes most allergic reactions. It gets transferred by the saliva and sebaceous glands to hair and dander. While this does not guarantee anything, it does improve your odds at being able to find a kitty to share your life with, without being too miserable.
One way to make your decicion is empirical testing – provided that your allergy isn’t life threatening, of course.
See if you can visit a breeder and pet those kittens and mom like your life depends on it. Keep in mind that females and kittens tend to have less of the allergen in general. Also, each individual will have varying degrees of the allergen, based on their unique genetic makeup.
So, consider opting for a female kitten and rub her all over your face, if you dare.
Do have that benadryl ready to go!
Managing your lives together
So, say you do adopt a kitten. Are you ready to deal with the occasional reaction?
What are the best tactics to make a life with your regal Russian Blue?
While it will require some effort on your part, it is usually very much possible to manage your allergy.
Here’s how you launch a 3-pronged plan of attack!
Tackling Your Environment
The first step is building a happy and clean home. Time to trap those pesky allergens before they get away from you.
- Use furniture polish to dust often. Don’t forget to spray the polish directly onto the shelves. It’s more effective that way. Meanwhile, if you dust regularly and thoroughly, you’ll be keeping those air-borne cat allergens down by 95%!
- HEPA handheld Air Purifiers. Use them especially in rooms with textiles, as those tend to be hair magnets. They’re very easy to use and you can put one in every room that needs it.
- No Russian Blues in the bedroom – sorry. Your bed, being covered in textiles, is unfortunately quite the hair magnet and you spend 8 hours a day in it. As tempting as it is to snuggle up with your kitty, resist the temptation. You’ll sleep much better.
- Fabrics are out! From now on, minimalism is your new style choice in life. Remember, textiles are basically hair traps, so don’t give those pesky allergens more nooks and crannies to hide in than you really need in the house.
- Get yourself a HEPA vacuum with micro-filtration. These vacuums are your white knight in shining armor, battling against the invisible allergen enemy, as they’ll really go to town on them. However, since the hairs can still be blown up into the air during vacuuming, see if you can convince one of your allergy-free housemates to take care of this chore, in exchange for you doing your part somewhere else.
Tackling the Human Part
- Wash Those hands! Memorize it, live it, do it. Every time you touch your kitty. Pet the kitty, wash the hands. A new mantra to stick on your wall.
- Learn to love your laundry machine. It will kill your enemies for you. Wash often to keep on top of things and keep in mind that cottons are better than polyester and wool, as the latter traps more allergens.
- Reprogram your Russian Blue. Kitties love to lick us out of love. However, saliva is one of the main sources of those annoying allergens. So, take some time to bond with your Russian Blue in another way and teach them a more appropriate alternative. Stop the cuddle session and walk away each time they do it. Then, reward them with extra cuddles and treats when they stick to head-budding – also known as ‘bunting’ – and purring. With their brains, it should be easy to get them to take the hint.
- Holistic allergy management. There are two alternative ways that show promise in alleviating allergy symptoms for you to try: the neti pot and plain saline nasal spray.
- Over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. Whether it is benadryl or allergy pills, make sure you have some ready in your first-aid kit, just in case. And ask your friends who have cats to have them on hand, if you visit their house often. It’s a staple in my first-aid kit for this very reason.
- See an allergist. They may be able to get you on an immunotherapy plan. The injections they use has a good chance to help you build up your tolerance to your Russian Blue over time.
A Diva’s Lifestyle
Ready to pamper your regal beauty? And yourself in the process? You see, treating your Russian Blue like the diva she is, is actually to your own benefit as well.
- Daily grooming. Brushing your kitty is best done by someone who isn’t allergic, of course. But it will greatly reduce the amount of hair and dander getting spread around and keep the fur in great condition.
- Introduce your Russian Blue bath-time! Make sure you introduce them to this gently, as they are sensitive kitties. Please be aware that cats are at risk for hypothermia – hence their fear of water. The thing is, if you wash them once a month with a special shampoo available in most pet shops, you’ll reduce the amount of the allergen on your kitty greatly. However, be careful not to overwash them! Doing so may dry out their skin, which would actually worsen the problem, as their dry skin will turn into dander, spreading the allergen all around the house.
- Pre-existing conditions. While you’re at the pet shop for shampoo, check to see if they have Omega 3 fatty acid supplements. They’ll help you treat any pre-existing dry skin conditions and keep the fur smooth and supple. They’ll also help balance out the dander that washing your kitty too often could cause.
- Acepromazine. This is a medication your vet can prescribe. It can be added in very low doses to the cat’s food and may alleviate your symptoms greatly.
The Other Russian Royal
Believe it or not, there is another Russian kitty that is even more famous for being hypoallergenic. And, it is a long-haired cat to boot!
So, for those that believed long-haired kitties would be forever out of their reach, I’m happy to introduce you to:
The Siberian cat
Again, not all individual cats of this breed will produce less of the protein people are allergic to, but overall, the research done so far on this breed is very promising.
They are known for being quite weather-proof, as they are home to one of the coldest countries in the world.
These curvaceous beauties have a gentle, easy-going nature and a luscious fur, which some claim not to have a reaction to at all! They are smart, love their humans without being clingy and can easily entertain themselves, doing their own thing. They are highly trainable and a really hardy breed.
This breed is worth checking out as an alternative to the Russian Blue for allergy sufferers that really would like a fluffy family cat.
Whichever one of these Russian beauties wins your heart, remember to do the empirical reaction test at the breeder’s so you know what you’re in for, then plan accordingly.
For what it’s worth, these cats are very much worth any fuss they might add to your family’s routine. Where your Russian Blue will treasure you like no other, your Siberian kitty’s gentle nature will melt all your stress away.
The choice is very much yours.