295: Cat Allergies…achooo

295: Cat Allergies…achooo

Brain Junk
Brain Junk
295: Cat Allergies...achooo

Up until 2020, If you loved cats but your allergies didn’t love them back, you had to live with runny eyes, hop yourself up on Benadryl, or live a sad cat free life. Now there’s something that might reduce the amount of Fel d1 that cats produce! The less Fel d1 in your environment, the less severe your allergic response. Stay tuned at the end for Amy’s recap of how Thanksgiving and Christmas went with her allergenic eldest kiddo!

Show Notes:

NIH National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biological Information: Anti-Fel d1 immunoglobulin Y antibody-containing egg ingredient lowers allergen levels in cat saliva by Ebenezer Satyaraj et al.

Very Well Health overview of the paper

In case you’re curious, here’s the Purina cat food (not sponsored)


[00:00:03] Speaker A: Welcome to Brain Junk. I’m Trace Kerr.

[00:00:05] Speaker B: And I’m Amy Barton. And today we’re going to talk all about cat allergies and the people you love who get mucusy and how to solve that problem.

[00:00:18] Speaker A: Okay. Because we need to do this because Beckett’s person, Cam, who comes over to visit quite a lot, is slightly allergic, although I think they’re improving. And I think I might have read this study. So I have some theories. So let’s go.

[00:00:32] Speaker B: Yeah. I’m excited, because this is the thing. So, for those of you who don’t have cat allergies, which is 80% to 90% of the population, so high five for you. So ten to 20% of the global population do have an allergy to dogs or cats, cat allergies are twice as common. For those of you blessed with not allergies, it manifests as sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, wheezing skin. My eyes get itchy. Oh, it’s not great. And the solutions in these modern times are antihistamines and immunotherapy, which is you go in once a week and you get a shot, and you slowly build up an immunity. So it’s just exposure therapy is what it sounded like. Oh, long and slow can take a really long time, and it’s expensive. Insurance is like, you could take Benadryl.

[00:01:19] Speaker A: You could just not have a cat.

[00:01:22] Speaker B: Yeah, exactly.

Well, and this would be, too, for, like, if you have a pine allergy and those kinds of things. But their insurance is, maybe it’s better, but mine has never been like, oh, yeah, we support that. They’re like, benadryl.

Anywho, there is a solution, so here’s why the problem happens. There is an allergen that cats have. It’s found on their skin, in their urine and saliva. So it’s not actually initially their hair that is the problem. The allergen is called. It’s a protein called feld one, and they get it on their fur because they lick. And so there’s saliva. That sticky allergen sticks everywhere, and it also can be fluffy and airborne and stays in the air for a long time. That dander. So it’s not great if you have a cat allergy. Just not being in the room with the cat is not really enough.

[00:02:19] Speaker A: At the height of my catness, we had three, and I have sat next to people out in public who have turned to me and gone, do you have cats? Because I’m stuffy.

[00:02:31] Speaker B: And what’s happening there? Their body is responding to the felD1one with an antibody known as IgY.

I didn’t look up how to say this. I tried with one, and I’m like, they don’t pronounce this, so I’m going to assume. They say IgY. Shall we assume that?

[00:02:49] Speaker A: I feel confident.

[00:02:51] Speaker B: Good. It activates an inflammatory response. Your body is saying, oh, problem. And it’s trying to isolate that and uses mucus to do that.

[00:03:01] Speaker A: Mucus.

[00:03:01] Speaker B: Lots of mucus. So the way that I learned about this was a picture of cats and chickens. And people have figured out that when their cats lived with their chickens, they were less allergic to their cats. And so there clearly was enough evidence there, or there was some other scientific way. They’re like, we think, blah, blah. I’m going to say all the blah, blah later, but that’s the shortcut.

[00:03:24] Speaker A: Okay.

[00:03:24] Speaker B: There was some evidence that when cats and chickens live together, this is the folk version of how this occurred, and maybe the real version, but Purina nestle Purina pet care has a Purina institute, and they do research things.

And for those of you that have an immediate bristle, Purina is like many other companies, they’ve got some great stuff and they’ve got some kind of things in their past, but this is a great one. They have a scientist named Ebenezer Satyaraj, and he found a way to neutralize that felD1 on cat dander. And so I want him on a t shirt if it works. I am in the initial stages of studying, but he has studied the felD1 allergen and found a way to help us. And he is the director of Purina’s molecular nutrition division.

[00:04:11] Speaker C: Wow.

[00:04:12] Speaker B: Yeah. That’s crazy. So 2019. He did a study, and his method was he had, of course, the two. He’s got his control and his study group, and they had one trial where saliva for the test group was collected at 00:13 and 5 hours post feeding. So they’ve worked this into a food and then the other group. That’s a lot of collecting fit cat Saliva. Can you imagine that part of it? That’s really why I wanted to tell you about it. I’m like, I know our cats. And they would see me coming the second time and be like, I don’t think so.

[00:04:43] Speaker A: Yeah, you come at them with a q tip, and it would be over. Yeah.

[00:04:47] Speaker B: So Ebenezer and whoever else worked in his study did that for a six week period.

[00:04:52] Speaker A: Oh, my gosh.

[00:04:53] Speaker B: four times every day.

[00:04:57] Speaker A: Wow.

[00:04:58] Speaker B: Six weeks. And what they found and what the solution is. Is that they need an antigen one polyclonal egg IgY antibody. So, chickens have this igy antibody. It’s a blood protein produced in response to and counteracting a specific antigen. For those of you who are like, I know what antibodies are, but I’m a little hazy. It combines with a substance in the body that recognizes as aliens, such as a bacteria virus, latches on, neutralizes it. Right? Neutralizes. Is that a good way to say that?

[00:05:34] Speaker A: Yeah, sure.

[00:05:36] Speaker B: Exactly. So felD1 in cats and on people and in the air, everywhere in chickens. I-G-Y. So good. We love it. It neutralizes the felD1 one amazingly. But how do we get those together?

[00:05:54] Speaker A: Peanut butter, chocolate. Dip them to get.

[00:05:56] Speaker D: No, wait.

[00:05:59] Speaker B: Really fascinating stats. So, for this, the feeding cats egg product, this is how they did it. They fed cats egg products with that IgY, and it reduced the active felD1 in 97% of cats with an average reduction of 47%, which, to me, is very worth it. Rather than feeding your cats chicken products, there is now a purina product that you can feed your cat. And theoretically, within about three weeks, you should be the beneficiary of this 47% reduction in felD1.

[00:06:37] Speaker A: You know what’s so funny? See, this is why you don’t skim studies. Because I saw that study very late at night, and I skimmed it, and I came away from that going, you expose your chickens to cats. The chickens lay eggs that are, like, magical somehow, then people who are allergic eat the eggs, and then they’re all better. I was not thinking that you just feed the cats. Oh, my gosh.

[00:06:59] Speaker B: Well, and it doesn’t naturally occur in the chicken eggs, either.

So you would have to expose chickens to a lot of the felD1 proteins. It’s got to be a whole passle of cats in there with the chickens. So somehow they expose the chickens to this felD1 so that then they can get that antibody bonds with the allergen and hay. Presto.

[00:07:24] Speaker C: Wow.

[00:07:25] Speaker A: That is really a remarkable reduction of.

[00:07:27] Speaker B: It is. And 97% of all cats.

[00:07:31] Speaker C: Wow.

[00:07:32] Speaker B: Side note, furless cats, I always assumed they were hypoallergenic, because no fur. But the fur is not the vehicle for the felD1. So you could are still likely, if you have a cat allergy, to potentially have an allergic reaction to a furless cat. But do you suppose it’s less likely to get in the air because it’s not on there for when they lick it? I don’t know.

[00:07:56] Speaker A: I don’t know. And then they look like uncooked chicken.

[00:08:01] Speaker B: I saw a picture just today of a hairless cat looking at a crock pot full of chicken legs.

It’s gross.

They’re not my jam. But I love this idea that you could feed the chickens, the felD1, and then the cats get to eat the allergen neutralized that they get that antibody.

It’s amazing.

So I just started feeding the cats on what’s today? I think I started feeding them the new food on Tuesday because Allie comes home for Thanksgiving. If I can talk her into staying over for a night or two. So that’ll be like our test run. It’s about three weeks out right now, so it’s very passive, but.


[00:08:49] Speaker C: Wow.

[00:08:49] Speaker A: Of course, you know, this also means that you’d have to deep clean the house.

[00:08:54] Speaker B: Yes. So there’s nothing that can be done about our couch, which is probably as old as will, and he’s a junior.

But I invited people, the moms, over for Thanksgiving, so I have to anyway, so this is a good time to be doing this.

[00:09:11] Speaker B: Wow.

[00:09:12] Speaker A: Oh, I’m so excited. So I feel like we might have to save this one to the end of November. For the end of November update. Smack together, because make Ali come over.

[00:09:26] Speaker B: And spend the night. I might even see a reduction in symptoms. The bummer is that this must be, I mean, to get the chickens to eat the felD1 and then take the chicken protein thing, and however they do it, the magic that happens in that process, it’s expensive. It’s about $24 for three and a half pounds.

[00:09:45] Speaker C: Wow.

[00:09:46] Speaker B: Unless I have a really life changing response to the reduction, too. We’re just going to do it before Allie comes home for holidays because she has a much more dramatic response than I do. She gets the wheezy, bad asthma type symptoms.

[00:10:04] Speaker A: Wow.

[00:10:08] Speaker A: You did such a good job of burying the lead. I had no idea that was coming. I was just thinking, oh, we need somebody to do this. And you were like, I’ve already started.

[00:10:17] Speaker B: It’s out there.

Yes. I’m so excited when I saw this. I don’t remember what time it was or what I was doing, but I immediately started looking for the food. I’m like, this is happening for us right now.

And the cats like it. One of our cats has teeth issues. She’s had some extractions, and so we buy her the tiny baby foods, and it is tiny.

[00:10:45] Speaker C: Wow.

[00:10:46] Speaker B: Maybe Allie won’t be risking death when she comes home.


So more to come I’ll do a little video or record a little tag on for the end of this episode.

[00:11:00] Speaker A: Yeah. Okay. Well, we’ll see where we wind up. But that’s fantastic.

[00:11:04] Speaker B: Wow.

[00:11:06] Speaker B: That’s one of the more practical. I’m like, brainjunkies, we’re going to change your lives. Or maybe you go to the pet store and you cruise the aisle more. But I do not. I just threw a thing in my chewy cart two years ago, and that’s what the cats still get. I don’t go and look.

[00:11:21] Speaker A: No, I don’t either. Oh, man, that’s fantastic.

[00:11:24] Speaker B: Yeah.

[00:11:25] Speaker A: Now here I was thinking I would just go out there and rub cats up against my chickens and I would make a fortune. But I see that’s not so true.

[00:11:32] Speaker B: I feel like that’s the real low, slow roll version.

Real low.

[00:11:39] Speaker A: And the neighbors are like, she’s out there being weird again. Please make herself.

[00:11:43] Speaker B: Yeah, she’s rubbing the cats on the chicken and then trying to get the cats to eat eggs.

[00:11:49] Speaker A: Oh, man. Cat. The pet farts would be bad.

[00:11:53] Speaker B: Yes, they would.

[00:11:55] Speaker A: They would be so bad.

[00:11:57] Speaker B: Yeah, exactly.

[00:12:00] Speaker A: I need the update. I need to know what the science says.

[00:12:04] Speaker B: So, Trace, today is December 22.

[00:12:08] Speaker A: Yes.

[00:12:09] Speaker D: Allie Barton, extremely allergic to cats. Child who adores cats very much, is home, and she has been home since it’s seven days because she came home a week ago Saturday. Okay, so here’s the scoop. Cats have reduction in their felD1 thing. That’s the scientific term, but I can’t be troubled to look at my notes again.

[00:12:31] Speaker A: You don’t need to look at your notes. I would say that when I was looking at the paper, I think that was like 40. Whatever was the best you could do. And some of them were much, much less.

[00:12:41] Speaker D: Yeah. Okay, so that’s a good clarification. Brain junk. So here’s the scoop. Here’s our personal experience. The cats have been on the food since the beginning of November exclusively. And Allie came home in the past, what we would experience is immediate itchiness and often respiratory symptoms. She did not have that as bad when she lived at home all the time. But then when she moved out to college and came back, it was much more dramatic. And we’re like, whoa, this isn’t great. This time, respiratory distress is not happening. She is itchy. It is a reduction in severity. But I feel like if you get hit by a truck at 60 miles an hour, wouldn’t it be nicer if you got hit by a truck at 30 miles an hour? Which, yeah. Yes, it would. Be, but it’s still not advised.

She will survive the rest of the three weeks before she can move back into her dorm. But she probably can’t be a cat owner without some allergy shots.

[00:13:38] Speaker A: Wow.

[00:13:39] Speaker B: Yeah, that was interesting. It is an appreciable difference.

[00:13:43] Speaker A: Okay.

Because you’re also kind of sensitive to the cats too, right?

[00:13:49] Speaker B: Yes.

[00:13:49] Speaker A: Have you noticed any difference?

[00:13:51] Speaker B: Not really, but I don’t normally get itchy with them unless I’m petting them. And then I touch my eyes, my body has made peace with them, I think, and I haven’t moved out. I’m still about the same amount of stuffy. And the cat every other day or so will come lay on my pillow next to my. So the cat food is definitely worth a try. You might have an improvement. Enough that it makes it worth it. I don’t know that I personally have, but Allie has had enough that it convinces me we’re going to do this for sure. At least when she’s home.

[00:14:23] Speaker A: Right?

[00:14:23] Speaker B: But here’s the fun behavioral thing. So Allie’s been away at school since the end of August and hasn’t come home and been home a lot since then, until just this last week. And so her cat, that is normally her cat in her room, has adopted us. Once she decided Allie wasn’t coming back, she came. And now our room is her room. And she’ll bring. She’s got a couple plastic grocery sacks. I roll my grocery sacks into a ball and then put them wherever they’re going to live. She somehow found a couple and brought them down here. And I thought she just plays with them. But now that Ali’s. She has been bringing Ali grocery bags, so don’t just have these randomly laying around where she could find them. So she’s actively searching out more plastic bags. I do have a tote that has them sitting in it by the back door. So I think she’s getting into the tote and getting a bag and bringing it to Ali. So now the decision is because she loves Ali and she’s decided Allie is going to stay, or is she worried that Ali is not taking care of herself? Cat behavior, it’s super great.

[00:15:29] Speaker A: I’m imagining she was like, okay, this is where you live, remember? So, like, leave again. Oh, that’s funny. Either that or it’s. Here’s a grocery bag, kid. Get out. Yeah.

[00:15:40] Speaker B: Yes. This is my room. She does tromp around. She’s got a food bowl in Allie’s room and then I moved one down here. So now if one of the bowls is empty, she will roam around until you follow her like Lassie to the problem, which is an empty food bowl in one of the two places. So she is having a little bit of trouble adjusting, but she’s happy.

And here’s the thing. You cat allergy people, they spend a lot of time together. She’s really marinated in cat.

So there are things that she could be doing to protect herself a little bit more and might be having an even better experience with this food.

[00:16:15] Speaker A: Wow.

[00:16:16] Speaker A: Well, I mean, at the very least, it sounds like it’s working some, which is what they said in the study. Like it’s going to work a little. It’s not going to get rid of everything.


[00:16:27] Speaker B: So it’s definitely worth a try, everybody, because the respiratory symptoms are bad.

Just being itchy is definitely more manageable.

[00:16:37] Speaker A: I’ll call that a partial win.

[00:16:39] Speaker B: Me, too. Yeah.

[00:16:40] Speaker A: Wow.

[00:16:41] Speaker B: If this were mythbusters, we would say it’s plausible.

[00:16:46] Speaker A: All right, well, thank you all for your reviews and comments. Oh, and if you try this, too, no sponsor from Purina. Let us know.

[00:16:55] Speaker B: Purina, if you’d like to sponsor us, we’d be open to a discussion. Absolutely.

[00:16:58] Speaker A: We could talk. I would sit down for that meeting. You can email us at brainjunkpodcast@gmail.com, we’re on Facebook. You can find us on Instagram, wherever you listen like. And please, please. We love it. Gets a cat. They’re little wings. They’ll be less allergenic if you like and subscribe.

[00:17:20] Speaker B: The magic of the.

[00:17:21] Speaker A: Oh, it’s so great. Amy and I will catch you next time when we share more of everything you never knew you wanted to know, and I guarantee you will not be bored.

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