Are Siberian Cats Hypoallergenic?

Are some cats hypoallergenic? That's a question allergic cat lovers have asked for years, and some are finding success at keeping Siberian cats while keeping allergy symptoms under control.

Siberians Are Russian Imports

Established in Russia for many years, the Siberian cat first came to America in the late 1980s when a breeder in Louisiana arranged a trade of two of her Himalayan kittens for three Siberians. They were officially recognized by the major U.S. cat breed registries between 1990 and 2006 and can now compete for championships at cat shows.

Siberians Resemble Norwegian Forest Cats

Because of similar markings, Siberians are often confused with Norwegian forest cats. Their large size often gets them mistaken for Maine Coon cats, but they are a unique breed with many round features, including eyes, ear tips, faces and paws. (For comparison, most Norwegian forest cat features can be classified as triangular, while Maine Coons tend toward rectangular.)

Siberians have dense coats that can be any color or combination, and they grow new coats twice a year. The coat has three layers: a soft undercoat topped by fur topped by guard hairs. This three-layer coat helps keep the cats warm in their native lands.

Siberians Have Dog-Like Personalities

Unlike many cats, Siberians are loyal companions. They enjoy the company of humans, especially children, and may act depressed if they are left alone for long periods. They may seek out water to play in, and sometimes dip their paws in their water bowls and drink off their paws. Siberians can also learn to do tricks, such as fetching a ball or toy, and often greet their owners at the door at day's end for a feline conversation consisting of a series of soft chirps about the day's events.

How Siberians Are Hypoallergenic

The main cause of cat allergies in people is a protein in the cat's dander and saliva, Fel d-1. Siberians seem to produce less of this protein than other breeds, which means they shed less of it on their dander and spread less of it when they frequently groom themselves each day. This makes it possible to call them hypoallergenic, or less likely to cause an allergic reaction in a sensitive person.

While many breeders market Siberians as hypoallergenic cats, they are not non-allergenic cats. Hypoallergenic means a thing is less likely to cause an allergic reaction, while non-allergenic means that a thing should not cause any allergic reaction at all in a sensitive individual.

Test Your Reaction in Person

Many Siberian breeders will send fur samples to potential owners for them to test their allergic reactions to the breed, but you may want to take things one step further. To gauge your potential allergic reaction to a Siberian cat, arrange to visit a local breeder and spend time with several cats during your visit. Check your allergic reaction when you arrive home and monitor it over the course of a few days, and then revisit the breeder to see if the cats cause a reaction.