Allergy Free Cats

by F.

News@Nature reports on Allerca, a San Diego company currently taking orders for sneeze-free fuzzballs:

This week witnessed an event that will have some animal lovers cheering: the arrival on the market of long-promised ‘allergy-free’ pet cats. But you might be surprised at how low-tech these cute kitties are — especially considering the almost US$4,000 price tag.

The cats are being sold by Allerca, a company based in San Diego, California. It is currently taking orders for deliveries next year.

Founder Simon Brodie says he started by trying to genetically engineer a low-allergy cat, but during the early testing stages the team accidentally stumbled on animals that seemed to be naturally sniffle-free.

“Maybe you could say we got lucky,” he says, with the “totally naturally occurring cat.”

Rivals express doubts:

“I don’t think you can have a non-GM hypoallergenic cat,” argues David Avner, founder of Felix Pets in Denver, Colorado, which is attempting to use genetic modification (GM) to create low-allergy pets.

Avner says that Allerca should publish data showing whether or not proteins from the cats’ skin and hair bind to human antibodies in the test tube, a process that underpins the allergic reaction.

Full article here. Allerca’s website is here. This is almost certain to be our family’s fiscal demise, since allergies are the only reason we don’t have more cats. “So, where did all your money go?” the bankruptcy trustee asks. “Well, we have 1,134—What? Oh, yes, that’s right, honey, thanks for reminding me—1,227 allergy free cats, and….”