A lot of people consider a cat to be the perfect pet and it’s definitely an animal that can offer you a lot of joy and affection. Getting a cat is a serious decision that you need to really think through and that should depend on several factors that you need to take into account. One of those factors is whether you or someone from your household has a cat allergy or not. To be more concrete, an allergy could really throw a spanner in the works! That’s why many people can’t help but wonder whether there aren’t any hypoallergenic cat breeds available that they can love and play with, without their allergy getting in the way. Well, the answer is nuanced, for sure!
Is There Such A Thing As Hypoallergenic Cats?
It’s important to keep in mind that there isn’t any cat breed thinkable that’s completely hypoallergenic and thus, there’s no point in looking for one, they don’t exist! However, it is possible to make a certain distinction between cats and some of them come remarkably close to actually being hypoallergenic.
What About The Siberian Cat?
A cat that causes a lot of confusion when it comes to the question of whether or not it’s (close to being) hypoallergenic is the Siberian cat. It’s a pure breed cat with roots in Russia and is one of the most extremely popular cat breeds among cat lovers all over the world! Precisely because this cat is so popular, the question of whether or not it’s hypoallergenic is asked so regularly.
The Siberian cat sometimes gets called the most hypoallergenic cat par excellence, but is that really the case? Could the Siberian really be the answer to all kinds of cat allergy sufferers from all over the world?
Well, the short answer is ‘yes’, although this statement needs a little word of explanation. As mentioned above, there doesn’t exist a cat that’s completely hypoallergenic, and Siberian cats, therefore, are no exception to that common piece of knowledge. However, if you were to adopt or purchase such a Siberian cat, you will find that it can offer you certain advantages that make this cat practically hypoallergenic. Even more so, Siberian cats are seen as the most hypoallergenic cat breed in the entire world by many people. It’s in this context that you should interpret hypoallergenic, in the sense of producing only very little allergens in general and that’s fully applicable to the Siberian cat.
The Workings Of The Concept Of Allergens
First and foremost, it’s important to shed some light on the inner workings of allergens. With people suffering from cat allergies, the fact is that they can get an allergic reaction when their immune system responds to specific cat allergens. These allergens are also called the Fel d 1- and Fel d 4 allergen levels in medical terms. It’s these allergen levels that are responsible for causing the allergy symptoms, ranging from itchy, swollen, and irritated eyes to a runny nose, to just name a few symptoms of an allergy reaction associated with cat allergies.
These types of allergens are mostly located in the sebaceous glands, the urine and the saliva of cats. Because cats make it a habit to wash and lick themselves constantly throughout the day, these allergens are also being transported to their skin and more importantly, they will also be present in the coat of the cat at hand. When one of these channels comes into contact with someone who’s allergic to cats, this creates the perfect environment to provoke an allergic reaction.
Now that allergens concept is clear, it’s time to put it into practice when it comes to Siberians!
Fel D 1 Allergen
When you take a look at all the different hypoallergenic cat breeds in the world, you’ll immediately notice that the Siberian cat belongs to the category of cats with the lowest amount of the Fel d 1 allergen, which is the primary protein responsible for cat allergies.
Even more peculiar is that you can clearly make a distinction between male and female Siberian cats. Concretely, even though the male ones are already relatively hypoallergenic, that’s all the more the case when it comes to the female Siberian cats that barely produce any allergens at all. Therefore, if you want to positively be on the safe side of things, it’s best to get a female cat to counter the negative effects of allergies as much as possible. All in all, the difference between both genders is not extremely big, but it still remains an astounding discovery that’s definitely worth mentioning at least once.
It might come as a surprise, seeing as the Siberian cat has a remarkably beautiful, lush and long fur coat, but it’s a cat breed that barely sheds any hair at all. Namely, this is limited to once, maybe twice a year and that’s it. Not only is this notably helpful if you hate vacuuming every day to get rid of all of the cat hair, but it also comes in extremely handy for the allergy sufferers out there! There’s a clear connection between how much hair cats shed and the extent of being hypoallergenic. Concretely, when a cat sheds, allergens are being released, which causes allergy reactions. When it comes to the Siberian cat that doesn’t shed a lot, not a lot of allergens are being released as a result, which definitely makes it more bearable for people with cat allergies!
Thus, even though a Siberian cat is not fully hypoallergenic, the fact that it barely sheds contributes greatly to its low risk for causing allergies to become very burdensome!
Of course, you need to keep in mind that you can’t simply determine that a cat’s quasi-hypoallergenic by only looking at its extent of shedding. Research has shown that people generally aren’t allergic to the fur of the cat at hand, but it’s actually the allergens that cats produce with their saliva for example, that are the biggest problem! The cat’s fur doesn’t produce these proteins, but is only the means of transport, so to speak and not at all the main source of any allergy problems. Admittedly, that doesn’t change the fact that the amount of shedding remains a great indicator!
Furthermore, the saliva of a Siberian cat also only contains a very low amount of enzymes, which certainly contributes to its reputation of being basically hypoallergenic. The Fel d 1 allergen and the Fel d 4 allergen, which are both determinative for causing allergy reactions, often are present in high numbers in the saliva of cats that are all but hypoallergenic. However, the Siberian cat definitely doesn’t belong to that category, seeing as its saliva doesn’t contain a lot of each allergen in the slightest!
Moreover, the skin glands of the Siberian cat also produce the Fel d 1 protein to a very limited extent. In any case, the production of this allergen is a lot less than is the case with other breeds. The Fel d 1 allergen is mostly found in the skin glands of cats and is primarily responsible for the outbreak of allergies. That’s why the Siberian cat is very useful in this department. This is truly essential, seeing as cats often have the tendency to get clean by licking themselves regularly. By doing this, the Fel d 1 protein ends up in the coat of the cat at hand and ultimately in the cat dander it will shed. This significantly increases the possibility of an allergic reaction with vulnerable people that come into contact with this coat or dander. Naturally, that possibility is remarkably low when it comes to the Siberian cat!
All in all, if you happen to be allergic to cats, the Siberian cat would still be a phenomenal choice for you! Not only is this cat very loving and known for its general lack of health issues, but there’s more! Because of the qualities of its coat and saliva, you’re less at risk to encounter allergy problems, which definitely is something to strive for. Thus, there’s nothing holding you back when it comes to adopting such a cat and to give it all of the love it deserves whenever you want! Of course, this is only applicable when you’re not very heavily allergic, seeing as about 20 % of all cat allergic people still experience severe allergy symptoms when they’re near Siberians. You also need to keep in mind that, even if you’re lightly allergic, you can still suffer from your allergy sometimes. However, the chances of this happening won’t be nearly as high as would be the case with other cat breeds!
Also, it’s always useful to keep taking the right medication or to undergo an alternative treatment to treat your allergy if you would be open to that. By doing this, you’re improving your chances to keep a cat in a normal way and that way, you won’t have to go without some well-needed cat love!