Purina has introduced a cat food called "Pro Plan LiveClear" that reduces cat allergens. According to Nestlé Purina, LiveClear is the first and only cat food that reduces the allergens in cat hair and dander.
Managing cat allergens is a struggle for the one in five adults worldwide who are sensitized to cat allergens. "Many people think that cat hair is the root of their problem," explained Ebenezer Satyaraj, PhD, immunologist for Nestlé Purina Research and lead investigator on the research that led to the development of Pro Plan LiveClear, "but it's actually what's on it – the major cat allergen called Fel d 1, a protein that cats produce naturally in their saliva."
All cats produce Fel d 1, 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 eventually into the environment.
The Reducing Factor
The key ingredient in Pro Plan LiveClear is a specific protein sourced from eggs. When cats eat LiveClear, the protein binds to the Fel d 1 and safely neutralises it in the cat's mouth. By reducing active Fel d 1 in the cat's saliva, it reduces the allergen that is transferred to the cat's hair and dander when they groom, ultimately reducing the allergen in the environment.
In a published study, feeding the product was shown to reduce the allergens in cat hair and dander by an average of 47 percent, starting in the third week of daily feeding.
Cat safety was critically important when developing the product. Explained Kurt Venator, its Chief Veterinary Officer: "Because scientists don't know exactly why cats produce Fel d 1, our goal was to neutralise it rather than inhibit its production." A six-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.
"These allergens have created a huge barrier to cat ownership and may limit the loving interactions between cat lovers and cats," says immunologist Dr Ebenezer Satyaraj, Director of Molecular Nutrition at Purina and lead investigator on the research. "Our discovery has the potential to transform how people manage cat allergens."
No Truly Hypoallergenic Cats
Contrary to popular perception, there are no truly hypoallergenic cats. All cats produce Fel d1 – regardless of breed, age, hair length, hair colour, sex, or body weight. Up to 95 percent of reactions in cat allergen-sensitive people are caused by Fel d1. Produced primarily in cats' salivary and sebaceous glands, Fel d1 is transferred to a cat's hair and skin during grooming, then dispersed in the environment via hair and dander.
A response in people sensitised to Fel d1 occurs when the allergen comes into contact with the individual and then binds with specialised immune defence proteins in their body. In this research, spanning more than a decade, Purina scientists found that an anti-Fel d1 antibody (IgY) can block specific sites on Fel d1 produced in cats' saliva, thereby neutralising the allergen.
Purina makes it clear that this cat food is not intended to replace other allergen-management strategies, like vacuuming or extensive cleaning of the home, but it offers an additional tool to reduce cat allergens in the environment.