Life With Siberian Cats: My Experience With Adoption
Up until two years ago, I had never heard of a Siberian Cat and would not have been able to pick one out of the crowd. In that amount of time, however, a lot has changed and they are now an everyday fixture in my life. We got Max and Bailey as kittens and while there may be a few similarities, they are mostly as opposite as you can possibly imagine.
Why Siberian Cats? The real reason is that my husband sufferers from bad allergies and Siberians were lauded as true hypoallergenic pets that would cause no issues for him. They are also the second largest breed (only behind Maine Coons!) and have tendencies that mimic dog behavior. Pretty exciting prospect! Below is my account of how life has been so far in case you're considering welcoming Siberians into your life. If you don't have time to read through, then just know that I wouldn't change a thing.
Are They Really Hypoallergenic?
Well, no...not really. At least, not if you think hypoallergenic should mean NO allergies. Here is the reality: cat allergies are caused by a protein in their saliva called Fel D 1. That protein is what causes allergic reactions, and since cats are constantly cleaning themselves by licking their fur, the shedding will spread the dried saliva (or dander) throughout your home and into the air. Siberian cats have been found to have the lowest amount of Fel D 1 in their saliva throughout the whole cat community. It is still there though, just much less. In reality, my husband had a few hard days in the beginning where his allergies would really act up. However, over time his allergy tolerance actually grew and now he’s much happier and would never trade Max and Bailey for anything.
The actual adoption process for these kittens was a crazy experience in itself, and it spanned quite a few months. Siberians are still pretty rare, so you pretty much have to go through a breeder to get any (you won't find Siberians at your local shelter unfortunately). We did our research and found a breeder online that seemed like the real deal.
Here's how the adoption would work: you put a deposit down on a kitten from a future litter (the waiting list is so long that your kitten isn't even born yet!) and the breeder would keep you posted as her mother cats got pregnant. We were able to request certain colorations and the sex, and for our particular situation, we were able to request two kittens that would come from the exact same litter (more on that later). Siberians come in many different colors, so it was tons of fun trying to pick what we wanted, but in the end, we said whatever colors you have!
We got the call the day that Max and Bailey were born and what an exciting moment that was! We knew we wouldn't be able to bring them home for at least 8 weeks (they needed to stay with their mother), but the breeder sent us pictures of them right after birth! From then on, we received an updated picture each week as they grew. It was a great way to bond with them before we even had them.
Then came some more excitement. Because this breeder worked solely with Siberian Cats, she understood that the main reason people look for these cats is for their hypoallergenic qualities. So she insisted that we go through 2 phases of testing to make sure that my husband could handle them. First step: the breeder sent us a hair sample from the mother and my husband had to sleep with it under his pillow! This step was a little silly, but fun at the same time, and my husband passed with flying colors. The second step was really exciting and would end up being our first meeting with Max and Bailey. We were told to drive to the breeder's house and she would carry the kittens out to the car with us, where we would need to sit with them for 1 hour with no air circulation — basically, a tightly enclosed space to make sure my husband didn't have an allergy attack. It certainly got stuffy, but it was so amazing to finally meet them, and they were so small! And luckily my husband passed Step 2!
After 8 long weeks, we were finally able to bring them home and start our new journey.
Why Get Two Kittens?
We went back and forth about whether to get one or two kittens, and in the end we decided to get two. The biggest pro of getting two kittens is that they entertain each other and are less likely to get lonely. You will feel way less guilty staying at work late when you know your little guy has a buddy to hang with.
There are still cons to this decision though, so you need to think through it. The biggest con is the obvious one - it's twice as expensive. Twice as much food, twice as much vet bills….twice as much litter to clean. I will also say that the bonding process takes a little longer when you have two kittens because they do not feel the need to bond with you as much as if they were alone.
Living with Our Hypoallergenic Friends
As I said earlier, welcoming Max and Bailey into our home was not a fully hypoallergenic experience. There were definitely some bad allergy days, and we did a lot of research to figure out what we could do to help the matter. In the end, our strategies worked and our efforts paid off. We are now a happy family with allergy days that are few and far between.
Today Max and Bailey are so happy in our home! Two years later, they are still best buds and sleep and play with each other often. They have definitely gotten bigger and have made themselves comfortable throughout the house. Our life would not be the same without them.
One thing we say all the time to Bailey is "awww, just like the brochure said!" We are only teasing him, of course - but it is very true. He is exactly what they say you will get when you get a Siberian. He has extremely soft fur that does not shed or mat that much and an adorable teddy bear face. He will come to us when we call him and when he hears us come through the front door, he runs down to greet us. He's pretty big and a little clumsy, but in a very endearing way. When I'm cooking in the kitchen, he sits on the counter and watches what I'm doing. When my husband and I lie down on the couch to watch a movie, he nuzzles in right between us. He is also a silent cat - we have never heard a peep out of him!
Max is our very "special" kitty. We love him dearly, especially his various quirks. As far as the standard Siberian characteristics go, Max has inherited very few of them. He has, however, inherited all of the characteristics that typically come with a cat that rules the roost. He has extremely long fur that sheds like crazy and we constantly need to brush him. He has a face that rivals the famed "angry kitty" though we're confident that he's usually pretty content. He is very antisocial and loves sleep more than any creature on the planet. He insists that every sip of water he take come from a freshly cleaned and filled water bowl, so we have no less than 3 water bowls at any given time that need to be changed at his beckon call (and quite a call he's got!) He is a very vocal cat and many times will even speak for Bailey. Max does not love food nearly as much as his brother, but if the food bowl isn't filled, he is sure to let us know so his brother can eat.