Science is working to make sure you can snuggle any animal you want to.
In June 2019, Purina shared the news that they potentially found a way to curb cat allergies by feeding felines an egg product that is a natural allergen-antibody, and which can reduce a cat’s active Fel d1 levels. Fel d1 is the allergen that causes the majority of cat allergies. Fel d1 is found in a cat’s saliva, but most humans come in contact with it through a cat’s dander or fur, where Fel d1 is transferred through a cat’s self-grooming routine.
Now, after more than a decade of research, Purina Pro Plan has found a way to transfer this exciting discovery into a cat food that can benefit cat owners, and potential cat owners, with cat allergies, who are looking for a way to bond more closely with their felines — without discomfort.
In April, Purina Pro Plan LiveClear, “the first and only cat food that reduces the allergens in cat hair and dander,” according to Purina, will be available for purchase.
“This breakthrough diet is the culmination of more than a decade of Purina research dedicated to finding a safe, effective way to address a problem that impacts countless cat-owning households worldwide,” Purina said in a release obtained by PEOPLE about the unique food. “When fed daily, LiveClear significantly reduces the allergens in cat hair and dander in as little as three weeks. It is outstanding nutrition that has the power to change lives, helping cat owners be closer together with the cats they love.”
The egg product, discovered by Purina scientists to be a natural allergen-antibody for Fel d1, is the food’s key ingredient, and it works by binding to the Fel d1 present in a cat’s mouth, while the cat is eating, and safely neutralizing the allergen before it can come in contact with one of the one in five adults worldwide that is sensitive to cat allergens.
“Eighty-six percent of cats had a 30% reduction, 50% had a 50% reduction, and on average there was a 47% reduction of active Fel d 1 on cats’ hair starting with the third week of daily feeding. This means that Pro Plan LiveClear neutralizes enough of the allergen so that cats who typically disperse moderate or high levels of active Fel d 1 from their saliva now disperse low or moderate levels of active Fel d 1 from their saliva,” Dr. Ebenezer Satyaraj, Ph.D., an immunologist for Nestlé Purina who worked on the food, told PEOPLE about the food has had during testing. “I like to think of it as the red/yellow/green levels you see on the Weather channel when it comes to environmental allergen counts. LiveClear is neutralizing enough of the cat allergen to move from a red or yellow count to a yellow or green count.”
But it is not only human comfort that Purina Pro Plan has in mind. The pet food company says they chose to release this new food only after they were certain it didn’t negatively impact cat health.
“Pro Plan LiveClear doesn’t affect the cat’s overall physiology. In fact, the cat will continue to produce allergens and shed as normal. The key ingredient in LiveClear, which is a specific protein found in eggs, simply binds to the Fel d 1 allergen in cats’ saliva and neutralizes it, safely, in the cat’s mouth,” Dr. Satyaraj said. “The cat will safely digest this egg product ingredient like all other proteins. As odd as it sounds, at this time, the scientific community does not know the exact function of Fel d 1. That is why we felt it was extremely important to identify an allergen management approach that does not interfere with the normal production of Fel d 1 by the cat or impact the cat’s overall physiology.”
The hope is that this food, paired with other allergen-reduction strategies, will bolster the bond between cats and pet parents with cat allergies — and will help more felines find homes.
In support of Purina Pro Plan LiveClear’s release, Purina and the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) conducted a survey among 2,062 American adult cat owners — fielded Dec. 2019 by data and analytics consultancy LRW — to see how cat allergies played a role in a pet parent’s relationship with their feline.
“37 percent of households with sensitivities to cat allergens have had to change their lifestyle to accommodate their cat, a significant increase over those without sensitivities (22 percent). In addition, 26 percent of households with cat allergen sensitivities stated that cat allergens have caused huge problems in their life. We also know that in their efforts to manage cat allergens, they’re limiting their interactions with their cats – whether that’s keeping them contained to certain rooms, keeping them out of the bedroom, or limiting the time they spend with them,” Dr. Satyaraj said. “They’re also spending more money, time and energy on cleaning and cat maintenance than those without sensitivities. The impact even goes beyond the owner/cat relationship: about a quarter of households with cat allergen sensitivities say their personal relationships have been strained due to cat allergens, with 11 percent having had to end a relationship or friendship due to the strain of cat allergen sensitivities.”
These are a sample of cat allergy hardships Purina Pro Plan is hoping to ease with their allergen-reducing cat food, and Dr. Satyaraj has one of his own.
“Personally, this particular area of study around managing cat allergens through pet food had intrigued me once my wife and I learned that my daughter was sensitive to cat allergens,” he said. “She had always wanted a cat, but due to her sensitivities, we were not able to have one. It was my hope to one day help find a way for cat lovers like my daughter to be able to experience the joy that cat ownership can bring.”
Thanks to the work of Dr. Satyaraj and many more minds at Purina, little dreams like this might be possible.
To learn more about Purina Pro Plan LiveClear, visit Purina Pro Plan’s website.