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  Information on Hypo-Allergenic Fur

How is it that the Siberian is non-allergic?
There is a protein in the feline saliva called FEL D-1. When the cat cleans itself, the protein then dries on the fur leaving dander. The dander particles are small and air filters cannot remove them from the air. The Siberian is void of the FEL D1 protein, therefore no dander. However if the allergic party suffers from the IgE 'late trigger' antibody reaction, they will find no benefit in owning a Siberian.

Are studies being done on the non-allergic fur?
No official study has been commissioned by me. Someday Science will be interested in this wonderful anomaly. But for now we have empirical analysis. After Hundreds of sales to people with “cat allergies” over a 7 year period, I already know what you must find out, that most people with cat allergies can in fact have a Siberian. About seven years ago, I sold two Siberians to an asthmatic. Because of his asthma, Ernie makes regular visits to the Mayo clinic. He informed them of his Siberians. The Mayo clinic had been using Ernie as their guinea pig, running test after test to make him react to Siberian dander. They have failed miserably, since there is no dander. The doctors still find it unbelievable but are now convinced that there is something very special and different about the Siberians. SEVEN years later Ernie is the proud owner of FOUR Male Siberians.

How was the non-allergic fur discovered?
In 1995 , I made the acquaintance of Gregg Neill, a gentleman who was working on marketing a biodegradable litter from citrus rinds. I asked him if I could try a sample. He said yes, and along with his fiancee', Debbie brought some product to my home. I became aware of his product because I read an article in a trade paper. He mentioned in the article that he didn't have a cat because his fiancee was severely allergic. Once at the house, Debbie remarked that she was not having an allergy attack. I thought it was because she was standing near an air purifier. On her second trip to my house, she remarked again about her lack of reaction. I thought she was standing too close to an open door. I was skeptical. After her third visit, Debbie insisted that there was something uniquely different about the Siberians. Again I wouldn't believe her and she remarked rather vehemently, " Look Lynda, I know my allergies!" I agreed to test her "scientifically". I placed her in a room with more than twenty Siberian adults and told her to pet the cats and then rub her eyes. After about 30 minutes, she left. I had envisioned itchy, watery eyes that had swollen shut. I called several days later to check the results. She was fine. I asked her if she wanted a Siberian, though I already knew the answer. She was so delighted, and has owned one of these beautiful cats since February 1996.


Cat got your nose?: Siberians may be the answer for some allergy-riddled pet lovers 03/24/2001

By Steve Steinberg / The Dallas Morning News

Cat lovers, this is nothing to sneeze at.

The Siberian breed has become hot news among allergy sufferers who have always wanted a cat but feared the resulting wheezes, sneezes, hives, watery eyes and other problems. But some breeders and allergic owners say that many people who react to other cats can cuddle a Siberian without trouble.

Melissa Young of Arlington has a 2 1/2-year-old nephew, Keegan, whose immunodeficiency disorder makes him allergic to dogs and cats. He's even been hospitalized a couple of times after reacting to cats.

Yet Keegan, who spends a lot of time at the Young house, plays with the Youngs' 6-month-old Siberian without any problem.

"[Keegan] loves the cat, and he cries when he has to leave," Ms. Young says.

Or take 6-year-old Zach Mays of Wylie, who would normally react strongly if he held a cat. But he can play with his 3-month-old Siberian kitten with nothing more than occasional slightly reddened eyes, says his mom, Denise Mays.

Allergy sufferers don't love their Siberians just for the non-sneezy benefits. Siberians are handsome, round-faced, shaggy cats, and breeders and owners even ones without allergies cherish the cats for their affectionate natures.

Pet Lenhard of Melbourne, Fla., said her Siberian, Grigori, seemed "to know I'm sad right now" after her husband died in May 1997. Writing to Florida breeder Lynda Nelson, who sold her Grigori, Ms. Lenhard said: "He washes my arm or face and gives massages in the early hours of the morning when I can no longer sleep."

A Nelson client who does have cat allergies, Ernie Sherman of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., wrote in 1997: "It is still somewhat difficult to explain how these beautiful creatures have changed my life. They have provided me with a special feeling of companionship and responsibility. They have all the qualities associated with cats, yet show traits usually attributed to dogs. They exhibit a loyal and protective behavior which other people also notice." Mr. Sherman, who has had lifelong asthma and could not have pets before, now owns four Siberians.

The cats are said to have regal bearing; they also carry a pretty majestic price tag. Breeders charge , depending on age and other factors. However, that price may include not only the cat's basic vaccinations, but spaying and neutering too.

Why many allergy sufferers can own Siberians without swelling like the Goodyear blimp remains a mystery. Ms. Nelson says the cat lacks the allergy-triggering Fel d 1 protein usually found in feline saliva and skin secretions. (Cats spread the allergen around mostly via their dander.)

Not likely, says Dr. James R. Richards, director of the Feline Health Center at Cornell University's highly regarded veterinary school. "I am unaware of any studies that show that any one breed is less allergenic than another, or that one breed produces lower levels of Fel d 1," he says.

A prominent immunologist agrees: "In every cat species that's been looked at, there's been this major allergen [Fel d 1] lions, tigers, Sphinx [hairless house cats]," says Dr. Peyton Eggleston, a researcher in pulmonary immunology and urban asthma at Johns Hopkins University's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Center.

The fur is flying Georgia breeder Kathy Wade cites tests done by an independent Virginia laboratory in 1999. Indoor Biotechnologies, which does sophisticated tests for the presence of allergens, sampled fur from four cat breeds sent to the lab. Ms. Wade says the tests revealed much lower levels of Fel d 1 among Siberians and Abyssinians than typical house cats.

Not so fast, the lab says. In its most recent Web posting, the lab says breeders have misinterpreted the test results and that the Siberian fur actually showed high levels of allergen.

"The company would not provide recommendations on pet ownership based on the results provided under these circumstances," the lab states. "The results do not provide convincing scientific data that Siberian cats are 'hypoallergenic,' and it is unfortunate that they have been widely disseminated on the Web and used by breeders of Siberian cats to promote the breed."

Minnesota's Dvorovoi Cattery offers another theory: "Siberians produce less dander than most cats, probably due to their oily base fur. Since dander is just dry skin, the oils in the fur keep the skin from drying out."

"Interesting thought, but it still seems far-fetched to me," says Cornell's Dr. Richards. And Dr. Eggleston flatly rejects the notion: "One of the sources of dander is the sebaceous glands, which produce the oil."

Some breeders, such as Audrey Oliver of Arizona, scoff at the whole nonallergenic business: "There's no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat. ... It's something that has created a lot of problems for those of us who are trying to be very honest with people."

She advises allergic customers to bathe the cat at least once a week, bar it from the bedroom, vacuum and dust religiously and comb the cat frequently to reduce shedding.

Dallas allergist Dr. Gary Gross further suggests using air cleaners with HEPA filters (and using a HEPA-filter vacuum cleaner as well). He also suggests calling the Allergy Control Products toll-free line (1-800-422-DUST) for detailed information on allergen reduction.

So what's happening?
Can anything, then, explain why Ernie Sherman can have four Siberians and still draw a breath?

Dr. Eggleston offers a couple of possibilities.

"There's a very significant emotional component to allergic disease," he says. "It's not that people are crazy, but in any therapeutic trial for asthma, there's about a 30 percent placebo rate.

"People have done 'challenge' studies where allergy sufferers are given allergen solutions to inhale. With suggestion, you can markedly influence that response." If you believe strongly enough that you won't be allergic, he says, you may still have symptoms. They just won't bother you as much.

He warns, though: "We see a lot of people who are attached to cats who have lots of chronic illness that we are absolutely sure is related to their ownership of cats."

Dr. Eggleston also cites research done by Tom Platts-Mills of the University of Virginia medical school. Dr. Platts-Mills' data shows that "at higher levels of cat allergen exposure, you may actually have less sensitization. He's suggesting that maybe this is why people say they can tolerate their cat. ... I'm not sure about this, but the data is there."

To help allergic prospective customers decide, some breeders will send them a snip of Siberian fur to put inside their pillowcase for a few nights' trial if they can't visit the breeder.

But Dr. Gross calls the pillowcase trial "ridiculous."

"The best way would be to go and spend some time with a person who owns one or to go to a breeder and spend the day there," he says. "Unfortunately, some illnesses such as asthma are worse at night, so even a negative daytime trial might not be definitive."

It may all boil down to this: If you hang around a cat for a few days and it doesn't make you sneeze and wheeze, that's all you need to know.

"If it works for you, it's fine," says Dr. Eggleston. "You don't need lots of explanations."

It worked for Lynda Nelson's client Georgi Brochstein, who sent the breeder this e-mail about his family's new Siberian:

"She has fit in beautifully and has such a place in our hearts. Everyone who comes in contact with her is charmed by her friendly manner and patience around small children. One small child in particular is my 2-year-old grandson, Logan, who has had problems with asthma since he was an infant. The look of pleasure on his face when he has the kitty in his lap and pets her gives us such joy because he couldn't understand before why he couldn't be around animals."

From the Taiga Breed Club Website:
Are you allergic to cats?  Do you sneeze and wheeze?  Do your eyes water around cats?  The Siberian may be just the breed for you.  Many long time allergy suffers have been very successful with the Siberian.  Although it is not going to work for all allergy sufferers it has worked for many. 

Although there is no scientific data available supporting this and also none that can disprove this the Siberian appears to be the cat of choice for many allergy sufferers. 
If you are an allergy sufferer you should visit with a Siberian in person, preferably with a breeder who has a litter available.  This way you would be able to make multiple visits as the kitten grows to be sure your allergies are not triggered.  Some breeders will share their allergy experiences with you and I suggest you visit our breeders page to find a breeder within in your area.  You may be allergic to one Siberian and not another.  Breeders have had experiences where allergy sufferers have not been allergic to a kitten but reacted to this kittens mother.  Is color a factor?  Some breeders say yes and some say no.  Is sex a contributing factor?  Again some say yes and some say no.  It all comes down to YOU and the individual cat/kitten near you at the time.
It is very traumatic for you and a kitten not to mention expensive, if it is shipped to you and then has to be returned home if your allergies act up.

DK Meldgaards, Laila & Mads Meldgaard Petersen | 8930 Randers NØ - Denmark | mail@katterimeldgaards-sibirisk.dk