New Zealand is a nation of cat lovers, with one of the highest number of cats per capita in the world. Yet, allergies to cats are the most common animal-origin allergies in humans1 and affect approximately one in five adults worldwide2. Typically, management strategies have included avoiding contact with cats, or at the very least, spending less time with them. Cat allergies can also be a barrier to cat ownership and potentially lead to rehoming or relinquishment 3-6.
After a decade of research by scientists at Nestlé Purina, a new approach has been developed that reduces cat allergens without impacting the cat’s physiology. This approach utilizes the cat’s diet to safely and effectively neutralize Fel d 1, the major cat allergen, after its production by the cat but before it enters the environment.
Used as part of a comprehensive allergy management programme, this approach reduces allergen load and offers a novel and exciting approach for managing cat allergens while keeping the cat in the home.
In the breakthrough study, Nestle Purina scientists discovered that an egg product ingredient containing antibodies to Fel d 1, the major cat allergen, can bind Fel d 1 in the cat’s saliva, preventing its ability to trigger an allergic response in a cat allergen-sensitised individual.
The study found that when cats were fed a diet with the egg product ingredient containing anti-Fel d 1 IgY, the levels of active Fel d 1 in their saliva, and on their hair, were significantly reduced. 7,8,8 This will ultimately reduce active Fel d 1 levels in the environment, which may reduce symptoms in allergic people 7-9.
In a crossover study using individual environmental exposure chambers, cat allergen-sensitised human participants were exposed to hair and dander from cats fed either a control diet or a test diet (control diet with added egg product ingredient containing anti-Fel d 1 IgY).
When exposed to hair and dander from cats fed the test diet, the participants showed significantly reduced Total Nasal Symptom Scores and reductions in some ocular symptoms, compared to their experience when exposed to hair and dander from cats that weren’t fed the diet with the ingredient8.
Allergy, the European journal of allergy and clinical immunology, published the research including the environmental study with humans. For more, visit: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/all.14013
1. Morris, D. (2010). Human allergy to environmental pet danders: A public health perspective. Veterinary Dermatology, 21, 441-449.
2. Bousquet, P.-J., Chinn, S., Janson, C., Kogevinas, M., Burney, P. & Jarvis, D. (2007). Geographical variation in the prevalence of positive skin tests to environmental aeroallergens in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey I. Allergy, 62, 301-309.
3. American Humane Association. (2012). Keeping pets (dogs and cats) in homes: A three-phase retention study. Phase I: Reasons for not owning a dog or cat. Retrieved from the American Humane Association website: https://www.americanhumane.org/app/uploads/2016/08/aha-petsmart-retention-study-phase-1.pdf
4. Casey, R.A., Vandenbussche, S., Bradshaw, J.W.S., & Roberts, M.A. (2009). Reasons for relinquishment and return of domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus) to rescue shelters in the UK. Anthrozoös, 22, 347-358. doi: 10.2752/089279309X12538695316185
5. Coe, J.B., Young, I., Lambert, K., Dysart, L., Borden, L.N. & Rajic, A. (2014). A scoping review of published research on the relinquishment of companion animals. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 17, 253-273. doi: 10.1080/10888705.2014.899910
6. Zito, S., Morton, J., Vankan, D., Paterson, M., Bennett, P.C., Rand, J., Phillips, C.J.C. (2016). Reasons people surrender unowned and owned cats to Australian animal shelters and barriers to assuming ownership of unowned cats. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 19, 303-319. doi: 10.1080/10888705.206.1141682
7,8. Satyaraj, E., Li, Q., Sun, P. & Sherrill, S. Anti-Fel d 1 immunoglobulin Y antibody-containing egg ingredient lowers allergen levels in cat saliva. Submitted, Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.
8. Satyaraj, E., Gardner, C., Filipi, I., Cramer, K. & Sherrill, S. (2019). Reduction of active Fel d 1 from cats using an antiFeld 1 egg IgY antibody. Immunity, Inflammation & Disease. Advance online publication. Doi: 10.1002/iid3.244
9. Wedner, J.J., Mantia, T., Satyaraj, E., Gardner, C., Al-Hammadi, N. & Sherrill, S. Feeding cats with anti-Fel d 1 antibodies decreases environmental Fel d 1 and allergic response. Manuscript in preparation.
Allergy Today, 30 October 2020