The Siberian is playful, lovable, curious and utterly fluffy. A gorgeous breed from Russia, this breed has a lot going for it. But, it is in fact none of this that makes this breed stand out.
The Siberian owes its claim to fame to one thing, and one thing only.
It is rumored to be the Holy Grail of Hypoallergenic Cats.
Siberian cats are known as THE hypoallergenic cat. It is a cat breed that some claim 75 percent of allergy sufferers do not react to. Scientific research has shown that even the males of this breed, who produce way more of the most common allergen than females, produce only a fraction of that pesky protein compared to regular cats.
They produce significantly less of the allergen Fel D 1, which is the main protein people tend to have reactions to. Yes, reactions are certainly still possible, but way less likely.
So, who is this stunning mythical creature that sounds too good to be true?
The Siberian Cat
With their fluffy, luscious coats, these kitties are built to withstand some seriously subzero temperatures.
They tend to be playful, easy-going, curious, very fond of their humans yet not too clingy. They like to venture out on their own and do their own thing, before checking in and seeing what you’re up to.
Meanwhile, their powerful jumping ability makes for an agile kitty who can hold their own in the world.
This breed comes in all kinds of types and colour variations. Despite having a long hair, their coats do not mat too easily, making them easy to groom. They do shed heavily once or twice a year, as they need to exchange that beautiful winter coat for a shorter trim during the summer.
What makes a hypoallergenic cat?
Ok, so, how is it that they can shed so much, have such a luscious coat, and still get voted the most hypoallergenic kitty around?
Here’s the deal. While hair and dander do make a difference, the true problem is the source of the allergen. Hair and dander are just the transport vehicles that the proteins, which cause allergic reactions, use to get around.
The Fel D 1 protein is the allergen that most people are allergic to. It is deposited onto the fur by sebaceous glands to keep the hair nourished and shiny. And, it is this protein which the Siberian produces minimal amounts of, compared to other breeds.
That said, there are no guarantees. Siberians still do produce this allergen. And each individual produces a different amount, according to their own genetic make-up.
Still, the research is very promising. It shows that even males, who are known to produce significantly higher amounts than females or kittens, have just a fraction of this protein in their system, compared to some of the other breeds out there.
So, that is something to take on board. When you do the research on adding your very own Siberian to your family, keep the following in mind:
- Consider adopting a female
- Make sure to pack Benadryl
- Do an empirical test and spend 30 minutes with mom and all her kittens all up in your face (providing your allergy is not life-threathening!), to see if Siberians are for you.
- Read the next section of this article on how to help bring that minimal amount of allergen even more down for your own comfort.
Life with your new feline roommate
So, say you pull the trigger and adopt yourself your very own fluffy russian beauty.
Now, how do you prep yourself, your house and your kitty for a long and happy life together?
We’re going to tackle these three areas, in order to optimize both your comfort levels and lives.
Your Body is Your Allergen-Free Temple
Alright, let’s have a look at some healthy potential habits to adopt for everyone involved.
Here we go!
These are some of the daily rituals you can institute to make your life a lot easier.
- Cozy up to your laundry machine. Washing your clothes regularly will keep those pesky proteins under control. Also, keep in mind that cotton is preferable to polyester and wool, as it doesn’t trap as many of the allergens than the other materials.
- Hand sanitation. Make a ritual out of washing your hands. When you pet your cat, you wash your hands. Keep sanitizer and even hand cream next to the sink, if need be. Live it, learn it.
- Communicate with your Siberian. Unfortunately, our cats love to literally shower us with love – by licking us. The problem is that the allergens that most humans are sensitive to are present in their saliva. So teach your kitty that, as much as you appreciate the gesture, there are other ways to show love. Start by walking away the second they start licking. Then, show them how you’d prefer they express your love and reward it with food and tons of attention.
In some cases, we’ll have to step up our game just a little.
- Alternative measures. For those of you who want to try things more holistically, the neti pot and plain saline nasal spray have shown the most promise in alleviating symptoms.
- Over-the-counter medication. When you need a little more help, you may want to consider having benadryl or other types of tablets on hand – whatever works for you. It’s something that’s always useful to have on you. As someone who isn’t even allergic, it’s a staple in my med kit, for when I have a friend visiting, who is actually allergic.
- Time to see your allergist. Some people respond well to immunotherapy. This is where they use injections to desensitise you over time and diminish your reactions. So, it might just be worth your time to check in with a professional.
Embrace your domestic god(dess) and honor your living space. With a few smart tips and tricks, it’ll be a breeze!
- Furniture Polish. One thing you can do is dust often and spray the polish directly onto the surfaces, as that is a way more effective way of removing dust. It will help you keep those air-borne allergens down by 95%!
- Air Purifiers with HEPA filters. These little puppies are life savers. Use them in particular in rooms with beds or lots of textiles as fabrics tend to be hair magnets. They come in a handheld variety, making it easy to cart them around to any room.
- Fabrics get evicted. Remember, fabrics are the devil’s little helpers. They trap hair and the allergen it transports, so cast a critical eye over your house. Anywhere you have textiles that aren’t serving an actual important purpose, consider whether or not your discomfort is worth their presence. Maybe get some books on minimalism. It’s a beautiful and healthy way of life.
- Designate your bedroom a kitty-free zone. Sorry, but this is one non-negotiable. Your Siberian has got to go. That bed of yours is a cat hair magnet and you spend up to 8 hours a day there, rolling around and inhaling that stuff. You can always make it up to your kitty in the morning!
- Your new pet is HEPA vacuum with micro-filtration. All you need is a good handler, as it’s not a good idea to have the person who is allergic to do the vacuuming. Seriously though, this type of vacuum will give you back your house and your sanity. It’ll keep those pesky little proteins from getting all over your house.
Let’s not forget to pamper, err, treat the source. Fighting off allergens has never been more fun!
- Brush that cat! Your kitty will appreciate you keeping their fur luscious and glowing. And, it will keep dander and hair from spreading those allergens around the house. One thing – have someone else brush them if you can, as some hair will go flying during the process.
- Bath-time fun! See if you can convince your kitty that water is fun! It’s something that most cats will disagree with, for a good reason. Hypothermia is a real threat for a cat in the wild, so make sure you go slowly the first time, and make it fun with treats, attention and a heated bathroom. Slowly build up the duration and go at their pace. Then, pick up some special shampoo from your local pet store that will rinse out all those pesky allergens from their fur. Be careful not to overwash your kitty, as that will contribute to the formation of dry skin and dander, which is the opposite of what you want to achieve. Once a month is ideal.
- Prone to skin issues. Some cats are prone to dry skin and dull fur. Washing them can exacerbate this condition, which means more dander in the house. So, when you go out to get that special shampoo, pick up some omega 3 fatty acid supplements. They’ll help balance out that fur so it stays smooth and shiny at all times.
- Have your vet prescribe your kitty acepromazine. This is a medication that can be given in very low doses to your Siberian and can actually improve your comfort level greatly.
Although this all may seem like a lot of work, you will find that these beauties make it worth your while. After all, they’ve done their part. They even seem to have adapted to our need to inhale less of those pesky proteins.
So, here’s hoping that you find your true feline love to share your life with soon!