Cats produce 7 different allergens. Scientists label these feline allergens fel d-1, fel d-2, fel d-3, and so on. The cat allergen most people react to is named fel d-1. Some Siberian cats produce very little fel d-1, allowing most allergic (but
non-asthmatic) people to live happily with them. It is important to note that a
few individuals are not allergic to feld-1 but to one of the other proteins
produced by felines. For these persons, Siberian cats will still be reactive.
Siberian cat breeders grew tired of hearing that this low allergy trait was a
fairy tale, and began testing their cats for levels of Fel d-1. About 1/2
of Siberians do produce exceptionally low levels of fel d -1.
Happily, here at ForestWind Siberians in Buffalo, NY, our breeding cats all score exceptionally low - below 3.0 ug/ml!! Domestic cat levels of fel d-1 range from 1 to 35 ug/ml. Over 8 is quite high and is definitely reactive. Below 4 most allergic people can tolerate or even not react to at all. According to Indoor BioTechnologies, ForestWind Karolina and ForestWind Wyatt are the first Siberians to be tested who produce **no** detectable fel d-1 at all!
We test our adult cats in the winter when FEL d-1 levels are highest. Why do we do this? To identify the "top" level of allergen expected to be produced. When the highest level is low, this is a good thing! Our cats are breeding cats - they are not desexed. Desexed cats produce much less fel d-1. When desexed, males and females have similar rates of fel d-1 production. Fel d-1 production is testosterone mediated. Therefore it is important for your kitten to be desexed before coming to sexual maturity. Siberians mature early, and desexing is preferably completed before they achieve five months of age.
How did Siberians get this low allergy trait? They developed in geographic isolation in rural Siberia, so traits were shared amongst the natural breed as it evolved. By sharing our fel d-1 testing results, pedigrees, and DNA, we participate in a UC Davis University research project on Fel d-1 in Siberians. Through this project, several fel d -1gene mutations specific to the Siberian have been identified. These mutations are responsible for the lower level of fel d 1 production in our cats. So, now we know - there is a scientific basis for the claim that some Siberians are hypoallergenic! The genes are dominant and inherited heterozygously, so that a kitten has a 50% chance of inheriting it from an affected parent (affected = good: the cat has the special low allergy gene). We also support a new research project seeking to identify a simple method of testing kittens.
To summarize, Yes, Virginia, (some) Siberian cats ARE hypoallergenic!