Chances are, you know someone who absolutely loves cats, but wouldn't dare pet them because of allergies. If you're not a cat person on account of your allergies, or you're an itchy-eyed, hive-ridden cat mom who just can't quit, you'll want to know about the vaccine combatting human allergies to cats, pronto. This game-changing effort is being led by a team of Swiss scientists and has been dubbed HypoCat, due to its hypoallergenic capabilities. Though preclinical data on the vaccine was published back in April 2019, the cat vaccine isn't available just yet.
The issue that many of us have with cats is not so much their hair (despite popular belief), it's a protein compound called Fel d 1, and it's found in cat's saliva, sebaceous glands, and skin. If you have a sensitivity to Fel d 1, you'll experience swelling and itching of the skin, and eyes, and if you're around the protein compound long enough for spores to collect in your lungs, you might experience respiratory complications. For people who already suffer with asthma, cat allergens can also trigger asthma attacks, proving that cat allergies can vastly range in severity — for some people, an antihistamine does the trick, but for others, a trip to a hospital might be necessary after exposure to a cat.
So while this vaccine will be a great win for people living with cats and suffering from allergies, or people who have always wanted cats, it will also be a great preventative measure. We might be looking at a future in which cats get vaccinated with HypoCat just in the same routine way that they get neutered or spayed.
According to HypoPet's official news release on the study, in a total of four separate studies, including a total of 54 cats, the vaccination showed very promising results.
The published work, led by HypoPet’s Zurich-based research team (in collaboration with researchers from the Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Centre Riga, Vetsuisse Faculty University of Zurich and the Functional Genomics Centre Zürich, University of Zürich), showed that HypoPet’s virus-like particle vaccine targeting the major feline allergen (i.e. Fel d 1) to which humans are allergic, successfully induced Fel d 1 binding antibodies in cats and that these antibodies neutralized the allergen. Furthermore, the HypoCat™ vaccine was reported to be well tolerated without any overt toxicity.
AKA, without any apparent dangerous side effects, the cat's allergens were essentially switched off.
As for when this will be available in the states and how American vets are going to receive it, Dr. Lori Gil at Mount Kisco Vet Clinic says that she'll definitely need to wait and see how this product continues to pan out to ensure that it doesn't have any negative effects on vaccinated pets. "If it works, that will be amazing. It will help so many people," Dr. Gil tells Bustle. Though she mentions that there are some new foods coming onto the market that will help cats shed less (which might reduce the amount of allergens spread around the house), nothing of this calibre has been introduced to the market.