Are the Siberian breed really "hypo-allergenic" as claimed?They are one of the lesser allergenic but I wouldn't say 100%. I'd suggest a visit to a breeder and spend some time with the cats and see how you fair. If there isn't a breeder within travel distance, then maybe they would take a towel and allow the cats to sleep on it for a few days then send it to you. Wear it around your neck for a few hours and see what happens.
I'm not too fond of the cat litter trays, what alternatives are there (different styles with sides or enclosed ones etc.) and where do you generally put them?There are all kinds of options for trays and litter types...way too numerous to detail. Everything from a basic plastic pan with non-clumping clay to units that hook up to your toilet and wash/drain the waste away. If litter boxes are off putting...with long haired cats you get dingleberries pretty regularly...are you prepared to clean their butts? You can have a groomer shave/trim the area, but it's not a 100% solution.
Will they claw everything such as sofas etc. or is this just a myth? If they would, how can we stop them?Provide scratching posts, train them to use it. You may have to experiment with what they like...flat, inclined or vertical surface. Sisal, carpet, carboard etc. for material. Clip their nails regularly (at least every two weeks) to take off the sharp points.
We would want the cats to be an indoor cats, would this be OK? Note:
We're also thinking about a cat pen for in the garden so they can enjoy a nice day.Indoor cats are great, just make sure they have things to occupy them. To me a pen is just a tease and may create door dashers. I have a screened porch and that works well.
Would the cats trigger our home alarm system, if so, how could we deal with this? (put them in a room that doesn't have a sensor?)It would depend on your alarm system...no idea.
As I've said, we would prefer two kitten, ideally related. Would their gender make any difference in terms of them getting on together (we'd have them neutered/spaded anyway, so mating isn't an issue)?I don't think gender matters at all. How easily their affection is given is a matter of the cat's personality not their sex imo.
A few other comments...I agree, you're grandfather's age is a concern. Can he deal with the havoc they create? What will happen to the cats when he passes? Little kitten claws can cause serious problems for elderly people with thin skin. Kittens don't know that they shouldn't use a person as a launching board, digging their claws in as they bounce off you. This can cause skin tears and infection.
It sounds like you'll be doing some of the care...I already mentioned dingleberries and nail clipping. If you're put off by litter boxes, what about cleaning up puke/hairballs...there are ways to help minimize but it's still going to happen especially with long haired cats. What about combing/brushing and dematting?
It's great that you're asking these questions now. I've brought up a bunch of negatives and that's because you seem to be on the fence about this. I want to make sure you know what you're signing up for. On the other hand, watching 2 cats playing and having a snuggle at the end of a long day is one of the best ways to put a smile on your face.
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Holly, Misty & their friend, Jake, the dog.
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Yes, I know I need a new signature pic...someday...