Are Siberians Hypoallergenic?

Are Siberians Hypoallergenic?
In 2005, in a joint non-published study with UC Davis, we found roughly half of Siberians produced substantially less Fel-d1 allergen than other domestic cats and other cat breeds. No other breed was found to have consistent changes in allergen level production. In connection with KittenTesting, we have tested over 1000 Siberian cats and kittens. Only 15% of Siberians are suitable for homes with moderate or acute cat allergies.  

What is Cat Allergen #1?
Fel d1 is the first allergen discovered in house cats. It is a small protein that seems to be a scent marker – possibly identifying self and group.  Allergens in plants and animals are given a number as they are identified, so Fel d 1 = (Feline domesticus allergen 1). At least eight significant cat allergens have been identified.

Do little kittens produce Fel d1?
Cat allergens begin to show in kittens by 11 weeks of age, and Fel d1 levels increase for several months.  (Our testing methods are calibrated for samples at 12-13 weeks.) Families with moderate to severe cat allergies should never agree to purchase a kitten that is much younger than 12 weeks old – and then only after snuggling with that specific kitten.

Do low allergen matings always produce low kittens?
No. There are many allergen mutations in Siberians, and most are additive. Mating a low-allergen sire and dam has the best chance of producing lower allergen kittens, but normal allergen kittens are found in most matings. Mating normal allergen Siberians will always produce normal allergen kittens.

Does fur length affect allergens?
Fur length does not increase or decrease the amount of allergen.  Cats remove allergen from the hair through grooming, but salivary allergen becomes airborne at the same time. Siberians do have a fine undercoat that can cause mild itching or eye irritation in sensitive individuals.

Does color affect allergen?
Coat color is not related to allergen levels in Siberians, with one exception: Silver, Smoke, Bi-Metallic Siberians were produced in Siberians through outcrossing with Persian. These colors are typically very high allergen. Why these colors produce higher allergens is unknown at this time.

What about Neva (Colorpoint) Siberians?
Early colorpoint Siberians from the St. Petersburg region tended to be much lower allergen than Traditional (Black Amber Tabby), but low-allergen mutations are now found throughout the Siberian breed.  In the US, colorpoints are registered as Siberian, but in several foreign registries Neva are considered a separate Russian breed.  

Do males produce more allergen?
Cat allergen is hormonally controlled, with non-neutered males producing the highest levels. After neutering, Fel d1 allergen levels in males and females are similar. Allergen levels of exceptionally low allergen Siberian males do not seem to change as much with neutering.

Where is Fel d1 produced?
Fel-d1 is produced in the saliva, oil glands in the skin, and the perianal glands. During grooming, Fel-d1 from saliva becomes airborne. Allergen on the fur is oily and transfers easily to clothing, carpet, and upholstery. Litter boxes contain the highest amount of cat allergens.

Detailed articles about cat allergies: