I’ve always had allergic reactions to cats. The reaction is pretty predictable. Within 30 minutes of being in the same room with a cat and I start sneezing. My eyes get itchy as well as my skin. I take over the counter antihistamines to find temporary relief to buy me an additional hour before I need to run out the door, pull out my inhaler or, worst-case scenario, an EPI pen. Funny thing is when I mention this to my cat loving friends, some of them can relate. While they may have milder reactions, I’m always surprised to learn that they’ve just managed to live with the allergy symptoms, popping OTC meds to deal, because they love their furry friends that much. But now in the current environment and everyone spending more time at home, the sensitivities may have increased. They continue to clean their homes, bath their kitties, and maybe have installed an air purifier to help ease the discomfort. But what else can cat families do? We came across a revolutionary approach with the newest entry into the marketplace. Purina Pro Plan LiveClear is the first, and only, cat food in Canada that helps to reduce allergens. Could this be a viable solution? We wanted to learn more.
Animal (pet) allergens, it turns out, come from their saliva and urine as well as their dander (dead skin cells) and not their fur. Even particles are air born and hang around even if the animal isn’t in the same room. The particles linger and can remain for months in a home no matter how clean it is. We have also learned that allergies resulting from cats are twice as common as dogs, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. As many as 1 in 5 people globally experience allergic reactions from cats. The allergen has to do with the size and shape of the protein molecule, rather than how much dander the animal sheds. That surprised us.
Backed by over 10 years of dedicated research and studies, Purina found that when cats were fed daily on LiveClear, the allergens on their hair and dander were significantly reduced by an average of 47% in as little as third weeks. The key ingredient is a specific protein sourced from eggs. When a cat chews on the dry kibble, available in Chicken & Rice Formula and in Salmon & Rice Formula, that protein binds to the molecules in the mouth and safely neutralizes it.
We were curious, so we spoke with Stacy Lynn Morley, MSc, Nutritional Communications Manager, Purina Pro Plan & Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets to find out more …
What are the common myths surrounding cat allergens?
Cat hair is the cause of cat allergens: Contrary to popular belief, it is not the cat’s hair that causes a sensitivity. It’s actually what’s on it – the major cat allergen called Fel d 1, a protein that cats produce naturally in their saliva. And it’s produced by ALL cats, regardless of breed, age, hair length, sex or body weight. When cats groom, Fel d 1 gets on the hair and skin through the saliva, and ultimately into the environment.
Hair colour has an influence on allergen production: Hair colour does not play a role in allergen production, as the major cat allergen is produced primarily in the cat’s saliva. And it’s produced by ALL cats, regardless of breed, age, hair length, sex or body weight.
There are allergen-free or hypoallergenic cats: There is a common belief that some breeds of cats-especially the hairless breeds-are “hypoallergenic.” While “hypoallergenic” technically means “less allergenic” many people use it to imply “allergen-free” and this is incorrect. All cats produce Fel d 1 regardless of breed or hair length.
What can you tell us about Hypoallergenic Cats?
There are no truly allergen-free or “hypoallergenic cats”. While “hypoallergenic” technically means “less allergenic,” many people use it to imply “allergen-free.” All cats produce allergens even hairless cats (e.g. Cornish Rex and Sphynx) and all cats groom themselves, dispersing dander, hair and allergens into the environment.
Is there a difference between reactions to male and female cats? I swear my reaction is stronger with male cats.
Sex is the only physical characteristic that relates to allergen production- While studies have demonstrated that hair length and colour have no influence on Fel d 1 production, there is one physical factor that does appear to correlate: sex of the cat. Individual levels of Fel d 1 vary based on genetics and intact males could potentially produce less than a high producing female or sterilized male.
Pet owners are often skeptical with anything new especially if it means a change in diet- we understand that Purina has conducted thorough research for over 10 years before introducing this new cat food to the Canadian market. So, how did the company decide that now is the right time?
We know that the health and safety of their cat is the most important thing for cat owners. That’s why the research and development of Pro Plan LiveClear was so extensive. The launch timing was based upon the successful completion of the research, and cat safety was critically important when developing the product. The beauty of Pro Plan LiveClear is that it reduces cat allergens in cat hair and dander without impacting the physiology of the cat. Because scientists don’t know exactly why cats produce Fel d 1, our goal was to neutralize it rather than inhibit its production. A 6-month safety study also showed that the egg product ingredient coating the LiveClear kibble is completely safe for cats to eat. The action happens in the cat’s mouth, but once swallowed, the ingredient is digested like any other protein. Owners can also take comfort in that Purina Pro Plan LiveClear is a 100% complete and balanced dry cat food with outstanding taste and nutrition – just like our other Pro Plan formulas – so they can feel confident feeding it to their pet.
Since the ingredient is an egg product, why can’t we just add an egg to the cats diet?
The ingredient used in LiveClear is a specific protein not found in the eggs that we buy for ourselves.
To learn more visit www.purina.ca.