Have you always wanted a cat but you or someone in your household suffered from an allergic response to them? Sometimes we adopt them into our lives despite our allergies and just wave the itchy, watery eyes and sneezing off as a small price to pay for our beloved fur babies. Historically, cat allergies have been managed by taking medication, limiting exposure to the animal, or excessive grooming and cleaning habits. However, scientists have made major breakthroughs in the cat allergy dilemma. First, they have recognized the specific allergen that most people experience a reaction to. It’s called the Fel d 1 protein and it is produced in the cat’s saliva. The second, and more applicable breakthrough is that chicken eggs contain Anti-Fel d 1 antibodies when the chicken who produced that egg is exposed to cats.
Here is how it works:
Like humans, chickens can pass down their immune responses to their offspring. However, instead of passing through a placenta, like in humans, the antibodies from the hen are concentrated inside the egg yolk. This means that when the egg yolk is consumed, it gives the consumer a dose of those Anti-Fel d 1 antibodies. When these eggs are fed to the cat, the Fel d 1 protein gets neutralized by the Anti-Fel d 1 antibody by an average of 47% but was seen as high as 71%. Less Fel D 1 protein in the saliva leads to a smaller allergic reaction and potentially no issues at all. The scientists also looked at the health effects of adding eggs to your cat’s diet and found it to be perfectly safe.
Now, if you are living in a city apartment and are wondering how you’re going to get chicken eggs from a chicken exposed to cats, don’t worry! First, you could always check out a local farmers market or reach out to local farmers and talk to them about buying directly from them. A barn cat on your local farmer’s land will likely do the trick in lowering your cat’s Fel d 1 production. Plus, it is a great way to support a local business and invest in your community! Alternatively, large pet food corporations are currently incorporating this into their products and an allergen control line of pet products will likely be widely available in the near future. Either way, this discovery can offer a closer connection between cats and humans. It can contribute to more emotional well-being from the human/animal bond and could potentially lead to more cats being adopted from animal shelters as people are able to dismiss what was previously a major barrier in pet ownership.
Matulka RA, Thompson L, Corley D. Multi-Level Safety Studies of Anti Fel d 1 IgY Ingredient in Cat Food. Front Vet Sci. 2020 Jan 8;6:477. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2019.00477. PMID: 31970163; PMCID: PMC6960183.
“Neutralizing Allergens – the Breakthrough: Purina Institute.” Neutralizing Allergens – The Breakthrough | Purina Institute, www.purinainstitute.com/science-of-nutrition/neutralizing-allergens/breakthrough. Accessed 12 Sept. 2023.
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