You just might be interested (slightly) in an update (belatedly) on a business called Lifestyle Pets a.k.a. Allerca Cats. At the time they were touted by the business founder as being hypoallergenic. There was and still is a big market for hypoallergenic cats and the founder of this company, Simon Brodie, wanted to cash in on that market. The latest product to tackle the problem of people who are allergic to cats is Purina’s LiveClear cat food, which seems to work.
Brodie created a range of selectively bred cats all of which were ostensibly hypoallergenic. The top of the range cat was in my view an F1 Savannah cat which he called the Ashera GD. There were photographs of what looked like an F1 Savannah cat on a lead (see below). They were very expensive as are F1 Savannah cat in any case ($26k). But even the bottom of the range Allerca cat cost around US$7000; way above the normal price for a purebred cat.
There was a lot of controversy about this business. It has all died down and they are now part of the history of the world of cats in America. They were based in Delaware.
There was never any proof that the cats were hypoallergenic. There was an Allerca-funded study by Sheldon Spector published in the journal Nature in September 2006 which found that Allerca cats were less allergy-inducing than the control cats. In other words, they were to a certain extent hypoallergenic. But the author of the study advised caution and the report was never published.
In February 2006 Allerca was evicted from its San Diego headquarters, which is where the founder lived. Simon Brodie had a chequered history as a businessman leaving behind, it is alleged, unhappy clients and unpaid employees plus debts and lawsuits and court judgements et cetera. He had been convicted of fraud in the UK.
For a while the business offered a franchise program. It is said that Brodie accepted payment from some franchises.
The business essentially failed because the product did not work 🙂 . And also because of the controversy surrounding the founder and people didn’t believe the claims because they were unsubstantiated. In addition, there is a general understanding by people who know cats that all domestic cats produce the Fel D1 allergen in their saliva which is deposited on their coat. So, to be honest, no claim regarding hypoallergenic cats should be taken as entirely truthful.
In January 1, 2010 the company announced that it was going to cease their breeding activities. The website remained active at that time. As at March 2012 their website was still up and there were complaints that they were still in business.
There was a report by ABC News in July 2013 which claimed that the Lifestyle Pets cats were no more hypoallergenic than any other cat.
Lifestyle Pets never submitted any studies for peer review and, as mentioned above, never published anything to support its claims. They were secretive and in a 2006 interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune the chief executive officer at the time wouldn’t tell the interviewer where the company was located or how it was funded and how many people are employed. They wouldn’t even disclose how many cats had been selectively bred or where they were housed; ultimate secrecy which would have been catastrophic publicity I suspect.
Wikipedia reports that some customers did not receive any cats. Some people suggested that it was “vaporware”. I take this to mean an entirely fraudulent online business taking money but producing and selling nothing.
One customer filed a lawsuit against Lifestyle Pets for the return of the purchase price of a cat he had bought. There were repeated delays in delivering the cat until in March 2009 he was told that delivery had been affected by “decreased kitten production”. At that point the customer asked for his money back due to a major breach of the contract.
Another customer went to the news media and complained. That happened in 2009.
The business announced in 2009 that they would stop taking orders for new kittens and focus on “veterinary diagnostic products” instead, but would continue to fulfil orders for cats through 2010 and 2011.
The business fizzled out and stopped and is now entirely dead to the best of my knowledge. There is no website. The URL of their website was http://www.allerca.com/. If you go there today, you get the above warning from the browser.
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