Have you always wanted a cat but couldn’t because of cat allergies? Well now you may finally be able to have a cat…for a price!
Cat allergies can cause a range of unpleasant symptoms such as red, itchy, watery or swollen eyes and nose. It can cause sneezing, post nasal drip, lung congestion, wheezing, bronchitis, chest tightness, shortness of breath and the skin may develop itchy rashes or hives. Lovely stuff heh?
Contrary to popular belief the cat allergies are not actually caused by the cat’s hair but rather a glycoprotein called Fel d 1 secreted through the cat’s sebaceous glands and saliva.
Even hairless cat breeds can cause an allergic reaction. Cats, who are notorious self groomers, transfer this allergy inducing protein to their skin and fur while licking themselves. In fact they may even cause more allergies because you are coming into direct contact with the skin.
Researchers from biotech company Allerca used genetic sequencing to search for natural variations in the genetic code of the Fel d 1 protein.
They then selectively bred cats to express the protein at a lower molecular weight, reducing the likelihood of an allergic reaction.
There is some dispute over the discovery of this technology. David Avner, a physician in Colorado, claims that he was to one who actually discovered the unique gene responsible for creating the hypoallergenic cats not Simon Brodie, the founder of Allerca. Avner says Brodie stole the idea after posing as a potential investor.
This claim resulted in some legal disputes in court, lawsuits and settlements between Avner and Brodie. But after the dust settled from their cat fight Allerca has been offering the first scientifically produced and tested hypoallergenic cat to the pubic for sale since around 2006. You can check out their website Lifestyle Pets for more info.
The price tag, however, is a bit shocking. They have two different models so to speak.
ALLERCA GD CAT : US $8,950
ASHERA GD CAT : US $29,950
This puts the cost out of reach for many people interested in such a cat. But for those that can afford it this is great news. They are sweet, affectionate, smart, loyal, chatty, are great with children and make great family pets.
David Avner is pursuing a different route developing a hypoallergenic cat via direct cellular modification by removing the gene that makes the Fel d 1 protein. His website, Felix Pets, states “We start by removing this gene from a single cat cell. This cell is then implanted into a surrogate cat to grow into a kitten. The result is a healthy kitten that is allergen free!”
Avner says gene modification has an advantage over selective breeding in that modification takes less time to produce a cat consistently free of the allergen protein. “To breed out the allergen could take decades,” he said.
As of April, 2014 they still are not offering their version of hypoallergenic cats to the public for sale but according to their website their goal is to make them affordable to everyone. Keep your eye on this website.