The new food, launching in the UK this month, claims the food helps reduce the amount of an allergy-inducing protein in a cat's saliva.
All cats produce Fel d 1, regardless of breed, age, hair length, sex or body weight, but at differing levels. When cats groom themselves, Fel d 1 gets on the hair and skin through the saliva and with shedding, it eventually gets into the home environment. The product spreads widely and easily, attaches itself to any surface it comes into contact with and remains in houses for over a year or more.
However, the new food, Purina Pro Plan LiveClear, contains a specific protein sourced from eggs. When cats eat the food, the protein binds to the Fel d 1 and safely neutralises it in the cat’s mouth. By reducing active Fel d 1 in the cat’s saliva, it reduces the amount of the allergen transferred to the cat’s hair and dander when they groom, ultimately reducing the allergen in the environment.
Dr Maggie Roberts, director of Veterinary Services at Cats Protection, said: “Living with a cat allergy isn’t easy as many of the management techniques are time-consuming, laborious and are not feline-friendly. For example, bathing your cat can be a stressful experience and is often impossible. Similarly, keeping them restricted to a certain part of the house, can also result in increased levels of stress for the cat.
“Unfortunately, human allergies are a major cause of cat relinquishment – in 2019, 1,320 cats were sadly given up for adoption to Cats Protection due to human sensitivities to cat allergens.”
A study found that the new feed was shown to reduce the allergens on cat hair and dander by an average of 47 per cent, starting in the third week of daily feeding. A recent survey revealed the different ways British cat owners manage sensitivity to cat allergens. These include removing the cat when sensitivities to allergens act up, restricting the cat to specific places in the home, using special cat products on the cat such as dander removers or allergen sprays, bathing the cat and taking the cat to a groomer.
Dr Ebenezer Satyaraj, immunologist for Nestlé Purina Research and lead investigator on the research that led to the development of the new food, said:
“Many people think that cat hair or dander is the allergen, but it’s actually what’s on it – the major cat allergen called Fel d 1, a protein that cats produce naturally in their saliva.”
Amena Warner, head of clinical services at Allergy UK, said: “There are a number of ways in which cat owners try to manage their exposure to cat allergens and keep their symptoms at bay, including taking antihistamines, using inhalers for quick symptoms relief as sensitivity to cat allergens is often linked to allergy-related asthmas, regularly cleaning and hoovering, bathing and grooming the cat by non-allergic family members. And if these measures do not work, current medical advice is often to get rid of the cat to limit exposure to the allergens.
“Every cat is unique though and so the level of Fel d 1 they produce varies, just as every person’s sensitivity level to these allergens is different. That is why there is no ‘one size fits all’ way to manage exposure to cat allergens.”
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