Myths about Siberians

Many Siberian breeders, as well as breeders of Sphynx and Cornish Rex, have made misleading claims about the allergen levels of these breeds.  Some of the more common misleading ideas are discussed below.

Myth – All Siberians are hypoallergenic.
Siberian Research has compiled test data from over 300 samples of Siberian saliva and fur. About half of the Siberians tested have allegen levels lower than normal street cats. Some Siberians had exceptionally low allergen levels, and can be placed in homes with severe cat allergies.  Other Siberians had very high allergen levels that caused severe reactions in families with feline allergies.

Myth – Siberians produce no Fel-d1 allergen
All Siberians tested to date produce some Fel-d1 allergen, though some produce only a very small amount. There is evidence to suggest that Fel-d1 may provides a critical function in the early development of kittens. There is a wide range of Fel-d1 in normal cats, and a much wider range in Siberians.

Myth – Siberians produce a different type of Fel-d1
The feline allergen (Fel-d1) from Siberians has been tested both structurally and chemically. No changes was found in either the structural or chemical makeup of Siberian Fel-d1. There is no evidence to suport any claim that Siberian Fel-d1 is different than the allergen found in other cats.

Myth – Male cats have high levels of allergen than females.
Stud males in ten Siberian catteries were studied in detail. Low allergen males test very similar to low allergen females.  These males tend to cause fewer reactions in cattery visitors than the breeding queens.  When cats have normal levels of Fel-d1, the allergen levels of un-neutered males is higher than females, but the levels are reduced by neutering.

Myth – Fur tests are very accurate.
Fur testing is much easier than saliva, but it has very irregular results in queens. Levels of Fel-d1 in the coats of queens during late pregancy and nursing tend to be much higher than normal, and can cause more reactions in cattery visitors. Studs may have higher allergen levels if agitated during the rut season of March to October.

Myth – Saliva tests are always accurate.
Saliva testing is more accurate than fur sampling, but several problems have been found there as well. Cats that are frightened during testing have higher results than expected. By contrast, cats that salivate to freely tend to have lower test results. Siberian Research strongly recommends re-testing where there is any question regarding the validity of the sample. Repeat testing has shown saliva tests have about an 80% accuracy.

Myth – All kittens from low-allergen matings will produce less allergen.
Matings from multiple Siberian catteries were studied, and the kittens were monitored for Fel-d1 production as they matured. The findings were very consistent, and an overview is listed below.

  • When both the the sire and dam have normal levels of Fel-d1, the tendency is for all kittens to be high allergen.
  • If either the sire or dam has reduced Fel-d1 levels, roughly half of the kittens from the litter will have low or medium allergen levels.
  • If both the sire and dam are low allergen levels, most of the kittens will be low allergen, but some kittens can be full normal (high allergen).