Cat allergies are a common problem in humans. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates 3 in 10 people in the United States are allergic to cats and dogs. Since there are no effective treatments, most patients are told to avoid contact with cats. That means removing the pet from their home. “About 11 percent of cats end up back in shelters because their owners are allergic,” states the ASPCA. That means about 374,000 cats lose their homes due to allergies. This number does not include the cats who are simply turned out on the street. Finally, a new treatment is on the horizon that may help people live with cats.
People aren’t actually allergic to cat hair but a allergen on the hair called Fel d 1. It is estimated that 85% of humans that report cat allergies are reacting to Fel d 1. The allergen is found in secretions, saliva and nasal secretions. When the cat grooms, it spreads the offending allergen on the fur. A Swiss company called HypoPet AG has been working on a vaccine called HypoCat that will decrease the amount of Fel d 1 in the secretions. The vaccine is given to the cat where it stimulates the cat’s immune system to make antibodies against Fel d 1. The vaccine dramatically decreases the amount of Fel d 1in the cats saliva and secretions turning vaccinated cats into a “low” allergenic cat allowing many allergic people to keep their beloved pets. 54 cats were given the vaccine with “no overt toxic effect” noted.
In addition to the cat allergy vaccine, HypoPet AG is also working on a vaccine for osteoarthritis that targets nerve growth factor (NGF) in dogs, cats and humans. I sincerely hope these vaccines work as I would love to keep cats in their homes and have another tool for treating osteoarthritis in animals.
-Mastroianni, B. ‘Love Cats, Hat Your Allergies? A New Vaccine May Be the Purrfect Fix. www.healthline.com/health-news, Aug. 22, 2019.
-Press Release, ‘Key preclinical data for Hypopet’s cat allergy vaccine (Hypocat/VC001) puplished in leading allergy journal’, www.hypopet.ch/news, 9/20/2019.