If you’ve always wanted a pet cat but have never gotten one because you’re allergic to the furry creatures, there could be good news on the way. Scientists at the University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland have created a new ‘vaccine’ for cats that could reduce or even entirely eliminate reactions. Hurrah!
- Cat allergies are caused by a protein called Fel-d1. Approximately 10% of the Western population is allergic to Fel-d1, which is mostly present in the cat’s fur. When a cat sheds into its environment and an allergic person gets some of those particles into their airways, it triggers an immune response that can range from annoying to downright dangerous.
- The vaccine researchers developed isn’t for people but for the cats themselves. According to the trial published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the cat allergy vaccine is given to the animals themselves to reduce their production of Fel-d1. All 54 cats injected with the HypoCat vaccine then developed the antibodies that could fight the protein causing the cat allergy reaction.
- The cat allergy vaccine could greatly reduce the number of abandoned animals. If it was to become commercially available, the vaccine could not only have a positive effect on humans suffering from the allergy but also on the animals who often end up abandoned when the owner realizes their pet is making them unwell. “Both humans and animals could profit from this treatment. Allergic cat owners would reduce their risk of developing chronic diseases, such as asthma,” the researchers wrote. “Their cats could stay in the households and not need to be relinquished to animal shelters.”
- The vaccine is safe for the cats too. While reducing or eliminating the cat allergy altogether is a positive thing, it wouldn’t be if it put the animals themselves at risk or in any discomfort. Thankfully, the researchers’ trials with the vaccine showed no issues. “The vaccine was well tolerated and had no overt toxic effect,” they wrote. Amazing news!
- More research needs to be done, of course. It will be at least a few years before something like this cat allergy vaccine comes on the market officially, but the trials themselves provide hope for kitties and owners/potential owners everywhere!