Allergic To Cats? Purina Finds A Solution

Cat food coated with an egg product could provide relief for people who are allergic to cats. It’s not going to be on the market for a while though, so check out our suggestions for dealing with cat allergies in the meantime.

 

This little girl is allergic to cats. But the Purina Institute is working on a solution for cat allergies.

The Purina Institute is working on a solution for cat allergies.

Allergic to cats? There might be a cure for cat allergies in the not-too-distant future, and it doesn’t involve injections or human doctors.

Researchers at the Purina Institute have been searching for a way to help people who are allergic to cats for more than 10 years. There’s been some urgency to the search. Eighteen percent of the cats relinquished to shelters are there because a family member is allergic.

The long-awaited solution: coating cat food with an egg product ingredient. 

Cat allergies “have created a huge barrier to cat ownership and may limit the loving interactions between cat lovers and cats,” immunologist Ebenezer Satyaraj, Ph.D., director of molecular nutrition at Purina and lead investigator on the research, told DVM 360.

“Our discovery has the potential to transform how people manage cat allergens.”

It’s A Tiny Protein, Not Fur, That Causes Cat Allergies

It’s the protein Fel d1 in the cat’s saliva that causes an allergic reaction. As the cat grooms herself, she coats her fur with Fel d1, and the sticky, lighter-than-air allergens drift all over everywhere. They stick to human skin and clothes, carpeting, curtains and just about everything else they find. 

Some cats produce more Fel d1 than others, and some produce more at different times of the year. But all cats, even hairless cats, produce Fel d1. There are no hypoallergenic cats!

Help If You’re Allergic To Cats

Cat allergies can be very difficult to deal with, especially if you’re reluctant to take over-the-counter allergy meds for life. But allergy shots do work, and NAET is a wonderful way of clearing cat allergies. Here are some more things to try

    • Put Allerpet-C on your cat. It will keep the Fel d1 on the cat instead of drifting all over everywhere. While there are similar products, I’ve found that Allerpet works best.
    • Vacuum everything often. Don’t forget the blinds and curtains and upholstered furniture. Ideally, your vacuum will have an ultra-fine HEPA filter. Dust often, too, with a damp cloth or cloth that retains dust. 
    • Let someone else scoop the litter box. All that dust and fragrance won’t help your allergies at all. Unscented, dust-free litter is best for everyone, but especially for people who are allergic to cats.

    • Invest in a central air cleaner and filters for the vents. They’ll keep the allergens from circulating through the house. 
    • Don’t hold the cat close to your face, and wash your hands after you touch her.
    • Weather permitting, open a few windows for a couple of hours a day to lower the concentration of allergens. 
    • Cover the furniture where your cat likes to sleep with throws that can be washed often. Also, wash her bedding often.
    • Make your bedroom off-limits to the cat.
    • Run a HEPA room air purifier in your bedroom. Run it all the time. Never turn it off!
    • If your cat is indoor/outdoor, think about making her a completely outdoor cat, or keeping her outside all day and bringing her in all night. Many cats love this lifestyle, and if she has a cold-weather shelter, she’ll be comfortable and warm outside.
    • As an absolute last resort, check these tips for rehoming a cat. And keep in mind that this is not an instant solution. 

Something to remember is that people are rarely allergic to just one thing. So if you’re allergic to your cat, there are probably other allergens in your home that are causing a reaction, too. If you rehome your cat, it will take several months after the cat is gone for all the cat allergens to disappear. Meanwhile, the others will still be there. 

The Chicken And The Egg (And Cats)

Satyaraj’s researchers discovered that IgY antibodies can bind to Fel d1 in the cat’s saliva, preventing it from causing an allergic reaction in humans. IgY antibodies are naturally produced by chickens and pass through to their eggs. 

The Purina Institute’s website says IgY has been used successfully in both human and veterinary medicine. The food won’t stop the cat’s production of Fel d1 but will neutralize it.

Of the cats who tested Purina’s food coated with the egg ingredient, 86 percent showed at least a 30 percent reduction in active Fel d1 levels, and 50 percent showed at least a 50 percent reduction. 

Check out this video to see how it works. But don’t pitch your allergy meds just yet. A Purina spokesperson said the company doesn’t know yet when this product will actually reach the market. 

 

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15 comments

  1. Rebecca Sanchez - Reply

    Define yogi best in a HEPA filter system as they are a huge help. I went from not being able to be around cats, to being able to babysit our neighbors cat. I’ve also had situations where finding cats with the lower allergy dander has been very helpful. Great piece!

  2. Beth - Reply

    I know a few people who are allergic to cats. The allergy shots have made a huge difference for one of them (the others don’t have cats.) When our cat was alive, we had one guest who suffered terribly from allergies, but he never seemed to mind the cat at all.

  3. Emilia - Reply

    Another way to help with allergies is to have your cat regularly groomed. A good bath and blowout removes the dander. A non allergic family member can do it or call on the services of a professional cat groomer.

  4. JaneA Kelley - Reply

    I’m glad to see that there’s a new option to help people who love cats but are allergic to them. One of my best friends has a husband who’s highly allergic to cats, and when her two beloved Siamese cats (which he loved just as much as she did) passed away, she got a Siberian cat. Siberians apparently have a lower level of Fel d 1 in their saliva, so they’re easier to live with if you’re allergic. I do have to say that I disagree with the idea of making a cat completely outdoor–it’s kind of like, “What’s the point of having a cat?” if they’re never inside.

    • Missy Zane - Reply

      Cats and their people can still enjoy each other’s company, even if the cat lives outside or is an indoor/outdoor garage cat. For cats who are very attached to their outdoor neighborhood, I think this is a happier solution than trying to rehome the cat.

  5. The Dash Kitten Crew - Reply

    It looks as though there are options for those who are allergic but who want to own a cat and this is really encouraging. I am also encouraged that research is going into medical approaches. Why should be be deprived of a lovely cat because they might make you sneeze or itch!

    You set me thinking and I realised that there are also cats that are low dander and these have been a real blessing to some owners. I would love a Sphynx myself I admit 😉

    One thing I am a little unsure of is the statistics from allergies due to surrenders. I wonder how much of this is accurate as it can’t be measured can it? People use any excuse to rid themselves of a cat when they get tired of it and, frustratingly for real allergy sufferers, this is often the excuse used.

    • Missy Zane - Reply

      I was surprised by the number of cats surrendered, too. I would have thought it would be more. Most of the rescue requests I get are from people with allergic kids.

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