A lot of people are allergic to cats, and it can be a real pain. Not only can you not get a cat for yourself without constantly sneezing, it’s hard to even visit the house of someone with a cat without allergies acting up.
But it’s even worse for the cats, who are often left in shelters by their owners once their allergies get to be too much. According to Clear the Shelters, about 11% of the 3.4 million cats in shelters are left there for this reason.
While allergy-stricken pet owners can use tablets and inhalers to combat their symptoms while still keeping their pet, it’s still not an ideal solution… but now, a new breakthrough could change everything.
The majority of cat allergies are caused by a protein found in cat fur called Fel d 1. Particles of the protein are shed from the cat’s skin; it goes airborne and causes allergic reactions for humans.
But what if there was a way to reduce the amount of Fel d 1 a cat produces? A new vaccine, recently tested by scientists at University Hospital Zurich in Switzerland, shows promise of doing just that.
The team recently published their research in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: “We developed a new strategy to treat Fel d 1–induced allergy in human subjects by immunizing cats against their own major allergen, Fel d 1,” they wrote.
According to their results, the vaccine worked in reducing the protein with no harm done: “The vaccine was well tolerated and had no overt toxic effect,” the study says. “All cats induced a strong and sustained specific IgG antibody response.”
The researchers see this as a potential breakthrough that could save countless cats from the shelters:
“Both human subjects and animals could profit from this treatment because allergic cat owners would reduce their risk of developing chronic diseases, such as asthma, and become more tolerant of their cats, which therefore could stay in the households and not need to be relinquished to animal shelters,” the scientists’ conclusion reads.
So if you’re one of the unfortunate people who’s both a cat person and an allergy sufferer, you might soon be able to finally take home a kitten without suffering or having to take daily medication. Hopefully the vaccination becomes approved and commonplace soon enough, and more cats will be able to go to good homes—and stay in the ones they’re in already.
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