Allergy-fighting cat food safe in feeding trials

Cat allergies affect an estimated 12.1% of people older than 6, but a cat food coating derived from chicken eggs may help those folks embrace felines without sneezing fits.

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(photo by Andrea Gantz)
(photo by Andrea Gantz)

Cat allergies affect an estimated 12.1% of people older than 6, but a cat food ingredient derived from chicken eggs may help those folks embrace felines without sneezing fits. In a feeding trial, 42 cats ate an anti-allergy diet, made using IgY antibodies found naturally in eggs. Scientists with Nestlé Purina PetCare reported no health differences in those cats compared to felines on a convention food after 26 weeks. They published their results in Frontiers of Veterinary Science.

“The study results show that the ingredient is safe for cats; there were no differences with regard to clinical observations, in body weight, food consumption, eye examination, bloodwork or urinalysis, between the control group of cats fed a diet without the ingredient, and cats fed diets with the varying levels of the ingredient,” Dr. Ebenezer Satyaraj, Ph.D., director of molecular nutrition with Purina PetCare. “Our key ingredient simply neutralizes the Fel d1 allergen in cat’s saliva. This is a safe, feline-friendly approach and does not interfere with Fel d1 production or the cat’s overall physiology.”

Purina PetCare released the cat food Pro Plan LiveClear, using IgY antibodies, at pet specialty and online retailers. The allergy-fighting cat food comes in three formulas: Adult Chicken and Rice, Adult Salmon and Rice, and Adult Sensitive Skin and Stomach Turkey and Oat Meal.

Why cats cause allergies in humans

Cats naturally release an allergen, Fel d1 glycoprotein, in their saliva. They spread that chemical to their fur while grooming. After it dries, flakes off and goes airborne Fel d1 can trigger allergic reactions in humans. Another animals’ secretions may help solve that problem. Chickens produce an antibody in eggs, known as IgY, which attaches to and neutralizes Fel d1. Currently, IgY can be administered directly to people with allergies.

Antibodies start fighting infection in animals’ bodies by attaching to invading organisms, or other things the body identifies as a threat such as allergens. Once attached, the antibodies either block the foreign body’s activity or mark it for destruction by other cells. By adding IgY directly to cats’ diets, Purina Pro Plan LiveClear neutralize FEl d1 before it becomes a problem.

“The egg product ingredient was added to our existing Purina Pro Plan dry cat food formulas, which are complete and balanced and highly palatable,” Satyaraj said. “The addition of the ingredient did not affect the palatability... When combined with other cat allergen management strategies, it can help cat owners be closer together with the cats they love.

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