LiveClear – With Cats!
**This is a sponsored post for Purina but all views are my own**
As many as one in five people are allergic to cats. This can be a huge barrier to ownership, result in significant household conflict and often, sadly, relinquishment of the cat to rescue centres or other families.
Like allergic animals, allergic people will have a range of environmental allergens they are sensitive to. For those who react to cats, although there are 8 major feline allergens – Fel-d 1 to 8, Fel-d 1 is by far the most significant, with 95% of cat allergic people reacting to it.
A new diet from Purina, LiveClear, has been developed which neutralises a significant amount of the Fel-d 1 allergen and has the potential to have a massive impact on the ability of allergic owners to keep their cats, or get the pet they have always longed for.
Fel-d 1 is found in the saliva and secretory glands of cats and although the amount a cat produces is varies between individuals, they all do to some degree, so there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat! There is also no breed related variation in the levels.
Fel-d 1 is groomed into the coat by the cat, so it is not the hair or the dander themselves which are allergenic, again another ‘old wives tale’, but the presence of the allergen on them. This is why hairless breeds can be just as triggering as fluffy ones.
Fel-d 1 is also an extremely small molecule. This allows it to remain suspended in the air for significant periods of time and be very adherent; easily sticking to a variety of surfaces. Which is why many sensitive individuals will react while just inside a house or area where a cat lives, even if the cat isn’t present or deep cleaning has taken place.
A reaction in a sensitive person occurs when the Fel-d 1 antigen binds to a complimentary IgE immunoglobulin expressed on the surface of a mast cell. This binding triggers a degranulation of the mast cell, histamine release and a reaction in the form of itchy, runny eyes, nasal congestion and others, dependent on the individual. These reactions can vary in their severity but can cause significant distress, even if mild, particularly if the sufferer is an animal lover.
The innovation from the Purina has been to discover that this Fel-d 1 is bound by a chicken derived antibody, IgY, which acts in a similar fashion to the Ig-G antibodies found in mammals. The Fel-d 1 antigen binds to the IgY antibodies in several places, changing the structure to such a degree that it is no longer recognised by the IgE of sensitised individuals and and no reaction cascade is triggered.
The IgY antibody occurs naturally in chicken eggs, where its function is to give passive immunity to the chick. Egg is a safe and nutritious protein source for our cats and the Purina Institute have discovered a way to coat the kibble in the Purina LiveClear with the egg extract that contains the specific Ig-Y required. As the cat eats the food, the Fel-d 1 interacts with the IgY and the bond is permanent. So although the new molecule continues to be groomed onto the coat and then shed with the fur and dander, it no longer triggers a reaction in sensitive people.
The exact function of Fel-d 1 in the cat is unclear. Which is why this diet aims not to stop its production but to neutralise it once it is in the saliva. Extensive research has been carried out to ensure it’s safety and nutritional profile, with cats fed LiveClear undergoing regular and thorough physical and behavioural assessments including comprehensive and wide-ranging blood tests. IgY has also been used for decades in both human and livestock dietary supplements.
The Purina Institute have also conducted trials to ensure that not only the theory is sound but that the LiveClear diets work in practice as well. They have shown that Fel-d 1 levels dip markedly after 3 weeks of feeding and the production of the allergen reduces by an average of 47% with 97% of cats showing a difference. This is considered by human immunologists to be significant enough to reduce allergic reactions in humans and to bring them under the allergic threshold. The diet has been on the market for a few months now in America and the initial feedback has been very positive.
If you have a client who is allergic to cats but loves them despite this and their allergies are a barrier to ownership or are making them consider rehoming their pet, Purina LiveClear could be the key to ensuring they are able to keep their pet or realise their dreams of ownership. The diet comes in dry kitten, neutered adult and senior varieties, with formulations for sensitive stomachs and in both chicken and salmon flavours. Although it doesn’t need to be an exclusive diet, it must make up the majority of the cats food and it works best when fed little and often, either 2-3 meals a day or ad-lib.
For some individual owners and cats, just this diet change may mean their allergies are no longer an issue but it should be emphasised that it is advisable to continue with a comprehensive cleaning regime (which many sensitive cat owners are used to anyway) to further reduce the Fel-d load in the house but armed now with your knowledge of how this allergen behaves and spreads, you will be better able to advise on this as well.
Purnia LiveClear represents a unique and remarkable innovation in pet food. Just with a small, safe and nutritious alteration in the diet we can have a huge impact on the human-animal bond, keep pets with their people and give others the joy of cat ownership.