New approach to managing cat allergens

In a world first, Purina scientists have identified a proactive way to significantly reduce active levels of the major cat allergen, Fel d1, at its source in cats’ saliva. The breakthrough has been incorporated into a new range of cat food released in Australia, Purina Pro Plan LiveClear, shown to reduce allergens in cat hair and dander by an average of 47 percent starting in the third week of daily feeding.

As many as one in five adults worldwide are sensitised to cat allergens. Avoiding cats is a cornerstone of managing allergens, an approach that may leave cats looking for a new home. Taking advantage of natural allergen-antibody interactions, Purina researchers discovered how to safely neutralise Fel d1 in hair and dander by incorporating an egg product containing anti-Fel d1 antibodies into a cat’s diet. This in turn reduces active Fel d1 levels in the environment. 

The approach maintains normal allergen production by the cat, without affecting the cat’s overall physiology. This breakthrough method, discovered by Purina Institute scientists can transform the way people manage cat allergens, reducing exposure to the allergen, but not to the cat.

“These allergens have created a huge barrier to cat ownership and may limit the loving interactions between cat lovers and cats,” Zara Boland, Purina Veterinary External Affairs Manager for Australia said. “This discovery has the potential to transform how people manage cat allergens as well as strengthen the vital human-animal bond.”

Contrary to a 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 per cent of reactions in cat allergen-sensitive people are caused by Fel d1.2 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 (dried flakes of skin).2,3

Boland said physical contact is an important component of the human-cat relationship and allergies weaken that bond.  “Studies show that sensitivity to cat allergens is the most common pet related allergy, which is a problem that impacts one in five adults – that’s more than three million people in Australia alone. Sadly, an allergy is often cited as the reason for relinquishment of pets to animal shelters, or a barrier to cat ownership or adoption. I’m delighted that Pro Plan LiveClear is now available to Australian cat lovers and I’m very optimistic about the positive difference incorporating this scientific breakthrough in cat food might make to break the existing pattern of relinquishment and adoption.” 

A response in people sensitised to Fel d1 occurs when the allergen comes into contact with the individual and then binds with specialised immune defense proteins in their body. In this groundbreaking 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. 

According to a Purina study, published in Immunity, Inflammation and Disease, when cats were fed a diet including this egg product with IgY, 97 percent showed decreased levels of active Fel d1 on the hair and dander.3 On average, there was a 47 percent reduction of active Fel d1 on cats’ hair, starting in the third week of daily feeding.3 Decreasing active Fel d1 on a cat’s hair can reduce cat allergens shed into the environment on hair and dander. Reducing the allergen load in the environment has been shown to be beneficial to allergen-sensitive people.5 This was validated in a recent environmentally controlled study conducted by researchers at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri.6

Boland said she has seen results from the Purina Institute studies presented at different international conferences over the last five years. “While the initial concept was relatively simple, this innovation has evolved to provide a unique solution that embodies our core belief that Aussies and their pets are better together.”

For more information about this research and the Purina Institute, please visit:


1.  Bousquet, P.J., Chinn, S., Janson, C., Kogevinas, M., Burney, P., & Jarvis, D. (2007). Geographical variation in the prevalence of positive skin tests to environmental aeroallergens in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey I. Allergy, 62, 301-309. Doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2006.01293 

2.  Zahradnik, E., & Raulf, M. (2017). Respiratory allergens from furred mammals: environmental and occupational exposure. Veterinary Sciences, 4, 38. Doi: 10.3390/vetsci4030038 

3.  Satyaraj, E., Gardner, C., Filipi, I., Cramer, K., & Sherrill, S. (2019). Reduction of active Fel d1 from cats using an antiFel d1 egg IgY antibody. Immunity, inflammation and disease, 7(2), 68–73. doi:10.1002/iid3.244

4. Newgate Research (2019) for Animal Medicines Australia Pty Ltd. Pets in Australia: A national survey of pets and people. National Survey of 2,013 respondents

5.       Wickman, M. (2005). When allergies complicate allergies. Allergy, 60 (Supplement 79), 14-18. 

6.       Wedner, J., Satyaraj, E., Gardner, C., Al-Hammadi, N., Sherrill, S., & Mantia, T. (2019, June). Pilot study to determine effect of feeding cat food made with egg product containing anti-Fel d1 antibodies to cats on human allergy symptoms. Presented at the the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Congress, Lisbon, Portugal.

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