Your pal’s feline friend jumps onto your lap for a cuddle, and what’s supposed to be an ‘ah, cute’-moment, ends up being an episode of uncontrolled sneezing and the puffiest of eyes. Yup, this is the sad reality when you are allergic to cats. Now you find yourself shooing little Ginger away while trying to recover from the encounter. Very sad indeed … ☹
Having an allergic reaction to cats is no matter to be taken lightly – especially if you are an animal lover. But don’t despair yet, we’ve got some good ‘meows’ to share with all the sneezing fur victims out there. Drumroll, please. Scientists have invented a vaccine for cats that can stop humans from being allergic to them.
The brilliant minds behind the vaccine are scientists from HypoPet AG, a Swiss-based company. Martin Bachmann, one of the researchers who played a lead role in making the vaccine a reality, says “We have been working on this project for more than five years as cat allergies are a big problem for cat owners”.
Cat allergies are often caused by the protein Fel d 1, which cats secrete through their saliva and tears, which is then spread to their fur through grooming. Once they shed hair, traces of this protein is left behind on every surface their pretty little paws touched.
The vaccine consists of antibodies which bind with the protein Fel d 1 and lowers its allergy inducing effect in humans. The clever Swiss scientists safely tested the vaccine on 54 cats, and the results proved its ability to disable Fel d1.
In the studies, each cat was administered three doses of the HypoPet vaccine in the form of an injection into the hind leg over a period of nine weeks. Some of the participating felines were also given a booster shot six months later. The injections may have involved some ‘meowches’ that felt like a quick bee sting, but other than this, was completely painless and safe with no side effects. Blood samples from the vaccinated cats were mixed with blood samples from humans diagnosed with cat allergies which revealed that there were less allergy-related chemical reactions than usual.
According to Bachmann, the vaccine will become available sometime in 2022. “We can’t say an exact price at this point but it’s definitely going to be affordable for pet owners and in-line with other veterinary products”, says HypoPet.
The promise of the vaccine being available in South Africa within the next 3 years is encouraging, and especially exciting for humans who are allergic to cats. It’s also good news for felines as they would be able to enjoy the TLC they are most deserving of and not be neglected or left at animal shelters due to their human family’s constant sneezing. It’s a win for everyone!