Are you an avid cat lover but unfortunately also allergic to them? I can’t imagine how exasperating it must be for those people who are undergoing a conflict that is so incredibly frustrating.
Years ago when I discovered a company called Lifestyle Pets offering “scientifically proven” hypoallergenic” cats for sale that they developed using a “highly selective process” I thought to myself “here was an option for folks longing to be owned by a cat, but were sadly allergic to them”. I hoped these kitties could be an answer to their prayers.
But my initial optimism concerning “hypoallergenic” cats faded away shortly after learning that Lifestyle pets were selling these cats for an astronomical cost. The price of these “hypoallergenic” cats was only within the reach of affluent buyers. Additionally, if prospective clients’ allergy tests revealed high levels of feline allergen, Lifestyle Pets refused to sell a kitten to these people. I couldn’t help but wonder what “dirty little secret” was up Lifestyle Pet’s sleeves.
Allerca kittens (whose appearance is identical to a domestic shorthair cat) were fetching $4,000 USD in 2006. Today the company is asking $8,950 USD for Allerca kittens. In 2006, the Ashera GD, (the larger of the “hypoallergenic cats”) was about $22,000 USD. Today one would have to shell out as much as between 26,950 USD up to $125,000 USD to buy a cat whose appearance is identical to the Savannah breed¹.
According to their website, Lifestyle Pets kittens sell at 13 weeks-of-age and come with a complete and updated vaccination records upon delivery. Also included in the kitten’s cost is a Lifestyle airline “certified” cat carrier, a veterinary health certificate (required for travel), and a one year replacement guarantee in the event of [the kitten’s] death through accident or illness.
After I watched a recent re-airing of the ABC’s “20/20” investigation into Lifestyle Pets, my suspicions were entirely validated that these cats are no more hypoallergenic than the average stray cat roaming through your neighborhood.
ABC’s Lookout Team submitted a sample of cat hair for study to Indoor Biotechnologies, a company that specializes in allergy, asthma and indoor air quality. After finishing their study, the company concluded that:
..while” [Allerca’s] claim is based on the Fel d 1 allergen [four Allerca cats] being somehow different than that perhaps of normal cats. … That difference is something that we weren’t able to show when we look at the immune response of allergic patients.”
Based on Indoor Biotechnologies findings, the Lookout Team said:
“Indoor Biotechnologies found that the four Allerca cats it tested, including two from owners who thought their cats did cause fewer allergic reactions, were no more hypoallergenic than other cats.”
Remember the old fable “The Emperor’s New Clothes”? In my humble opinion its message fits this scam to a “T”.
Making matters even more disgusting, after interviewing Allerca Cat’s founder, Simon Brodie, pressing for answers, they learned that a classic brown tabby, one of the Allerca cats that he was selling for $8,950 USD, was purchased from a British Shorthair breeder in London for $250 USD. The Ashera cats turned out to be Savannah cats, but sold as “hypoallergenic” to buyers at a skyrocketing price tag.
My heart goes out to the people who have been snookered by the “hypoallergenic cats” and have paid dearly for these cats; some of which have never been delivered to the buyer. I think it is nothing but a dirty, rotten scam.
Unfortunately there are no cats that are 100% hypoallergenic (although some individual cats might produce less Fel D1 allergen than others). Some breeds such as the Rex cats, Bengal and the Sphynx and others are sometimes claimed to have some hypoallergenic properties. The Siberian is often claimed to be hypoallergenic but tests prove otherwise.
Most folks think that it’s the fur to which people are allergic, it’s the dander (flakes of skin mixed with saliva – containing the Fel D1 allergen) that causes allergies. All cats shed dander. Ahhhchoo! Michael actually argues that the problem is as much about people as it is about cats.
There are ways in which cat allergies can be minimized with regular vacuuming, washing hands after touching a cat, and of course getting allergy shots.
So if you’re allergic to cats and have sufficient spare cash to purchase a“hypoallergenic” kitty, don’t bother. Save your money. Make a sizable donation to an animal shelter.
How do you feel about this outrageous scam? Tell us in a comment.
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- photo credit Flicker User: AussieGold