Do Hypoallergenic Cats Exist?
Making a Hypoallergenic Cat continued...
Founder Simon Brodie says he has sold cats to more than 350 clients. However, the company has also faced allegations of fraud by customers who said they forked over the money and never got a cat -- or a refund.
Scientists want Brodie to let them independently verify his claims. Brodie says the satisfied customers speak for themselves.
Judy Smith, 37, of Westwood, Mass., who suffers from asthma and severe cat allergies, bought her first cat from Brodie in 2007 for about $7,000. She recently got a second.
Smith says they're not 100% hypoallergenic; she occasionally gets itchy eyes if she touches her face after hugging them. But it's nothing like the symptoms that flare up around other people's cats.
"They sit on my lap and sleep with us in bed and lick my face and I play with them all the time," Smith says. "It's really worth every penny because otherwise I wouldn't be able to even have one cat, let alone two in my house."
Another company, Felix Pets, claims to be engineering a hypoallergenic cat by removing the gene that makes the major cat allergen.
But Zuckerman, who is not involved with either company, says, "It's a difficult task to eliminate a gene from an animal." Plus, Zuckerman notes that scientists also don't know why the cat produces the protein, so it's unclear how removing the gene would affect the cat.
Even if you find a cat that doesn't bother you, Zuckerman recommends taking certain precautions:
- Have someone without allergies wipe the cat frequently with a damp towel.
- Vacuum frequently and thoroughly with a sweeper that has a HEPA filter.
- Keep the cat out of the bedroom.