Is it all just going to end in tears?
May 22, 2008 11:30 AM   Subscribe

Has any Mefite actually gotten one of the Allerca kitties or personally met somebody who had? Or is it all just a scam?

I found this comment by adiabat six months ago, but I'm wondering if anybody else has had any experience because, my God, I'd give my left kidney and a month's salary to spend the next twenty years brushing cat fur off my clothes.

(And yes, yes, rescue cats and shelter cats and low allergen breeds and HEPA filters and Zyrtec and getting used to my particular cat and Flonase. Unfortunately, my immune system is Godzilla. When I was in kindergarten, I used to clear space for myself at the first table to get dismissed by showing kids my allergy-induced atopic dermatitis. It looked like this, but over half of my body.

Not fun. I've grown out of that particular allergy, but to this day, most Siberians give me asthma in under fifteen minutes and the trailer for Return of the Beast from the Eczema Lagoon after two or three days of low-level exposure. If Allerca is a scam, there's very little hope for me keeping any feline for its full lifetime, and oh my God, coming back to my apartment is depressing after a twelve hour work day.)
posted by joyceanmachine to Pets & Animals (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
(I realize, having left that comment, that I'm not 100% sure it was an Allerca kitty. But it looked exactly like the one on the website banner, and I do know the owners shelled out a significant amount of money for a "hypoallergenic" cat, so that was an assumption I made, I guess.)
posted by adiabat at 11:54 AM on May 22, 2008

I dunno, it sure looks like a scam to me, just based on the google search results. Maybe you should contact your local Cat Fanciers association, or a university that teaches veterinary sciences? That's what I would do...
posted by zarah at 12:24 PM on May 22, 2008

I'm so sorry that you are allergic to cats. Looking over the links, Allerca hasn't gotten any of the study's that have done released to the public for review. I can think of two reasons for this, they have proprietary information they don't want known or they differences between the control and the breed aren't significant - i.e. it don't work.

But looking at the company website, they have a 12 month waiting period to even get a cat - so if you want one, they do have a money back guarantee - it might be worth it.

I would suggest trying to find one and spend some time with that breed first and see if you react to it - if your system is as violent as you say it is, it should show up pretty quickly.

Also, I would try spending time a Deveon Rex kitty - I've heard of many folks in your boat able to tolerate that breed - and they are fun too.
posted by bigmusic at 12:25 PM on May 22, 2008

I know a man who is allergic (don't know how severely, though) and manages to live with two Devon Rex kitties.

Here is some more information on cat allergies - it appears that female cats and light-colored cats may be less allergy-producing. Perhaps a light-colored, female Rex cat would be just the ticket for you.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 12:36 PM on May 22, 2008

Some Siberians will be more allergenic than others -- have you visited more than one breeder? (I can speak highly of Mike White in New Hampshire, though her cats are runty little ones instead of the usual Siberian size.) Also other breeds can be less problematic -- Rexes (not just Devon Rex, also Selkirk etc), Ragdolls & Ragamuffins (quite similar to the Allerca cats), Sphynxes if you're not into furry cats. Most breeders will be happy to have you visit.

Everything I heard about Allerca cats is that they're just carefully chosen purebreds at a huge price, and so not likely to be any more effective at preventing allergies than one of the breeds known to be less allergenic. Not a scam, though.
posted by jeather at 12:42 PM on May 22, 2008

The links I found in this blog post are enough to convince me that this is a total scam. That and a phone call to a ABoVP certified feline specialist who said it's a crock.
posted by zarah at 12:50 PM on May 22, 2008

I am allergic to cats, but I'm not allergic to my Cornish Rex. I'd suggest looking up a breeder in your area and checking out the Cornish Rex, or Devon Rex, as someone mentioned earlier in the thread (I've never been around the Devon Rex, so I have no first-hand experience there).
posted by necessitas at 12:58 PM on May 22, 2008

(for the record, my rex is female and light-colored)
posted by necessitas at 12:59 PM on May 22, 2008

For an informed decision on the hypoallergenic cat front - I wouldn't recommend a sphynx.

I got a rescue sphyx (a retired show cat, so he was very hairless).

He didn't have fur. He was an awesome cat personalitywise. But you know how pet foods include lots of vitamin e to make coats "shiny"? He needed a bath at least twice a week or else housedust would stick to his oily lack of coat and he would leave spots on things where he sat. Except where he wore a sweater. And my ex, who is allergic to cats, was allergic to the sphynx's skin grease.

So, basically, meet and spend time with any cat that you're thinking of bringing home. One man's allergy-free is another's greasy, cuddly allergin factory.
posted by Gucky at 1:30 PM on May 22, 2008 [5 favorites]

Regarding the Devon Rex... yeah it's not really that hypoallergenic. My parents' white Rex sheds more than almost any cat I've seen, and it definitely wreaks hell with my recently (last few years) developed kitty allergies. I spend a few hours in their house and it's 24 hours of sniffles for me.
posted by yellowbinder at 1:37 PM on May 22, 2008

Response by poster: As an additional point of information on the hypoallergenic cat search (I totally don't mind the shift in conversation, for the record, as it sounds like the outlook on Allerca is depressing as hell): I'm allergic to FelD1, so this pretty much nixes the *Rexes, who, as pointed out by yellowbinder, generally produce as much of that glycoprotein as any other cat. Ditto for Sphynxes. I haven't tried Ragdolls or Ragamuffins because the verdict on their FelD1 levels is mixed; Siberians and Russians have had the best press about FelD1 levels, which is why I mentioned Siberians in the original post.

An additional wrinkle, in addition to the fact that my allergies get much, much worse with continued exposure, is that I have subsidiary allergies under to all manner of fun thing, and when I exposed myself for a week to the dander produced by a white, spayed Siberian kitty of medium FelD1 levels, I end up asthma-attack allergic things that I am normally completely fine with. Tree pollen! Dust! Shellfish! Inability to breathe through the nose! A face that felt like it was peeling off!

So yeah, unless I want the next two decades of my life to be hell, I should get a cat that comes close to be non-allergenic. In lieu of a magical kitty, I'd be eternally grateful for recommendations, a la jeather, for particular Siberian or Russian breeders.
posted by joyceanmachine at 1:53 PM on May 22, 2008

Best answer: I have a Siberian and a husband who is super-allergic to most cats, and not at all to her. In the course of getting her, I accumulated a lot of allergen info. Here's some of it... A lot of it is from one of the founders of Siberian Research, who is also the first breeder linked below. (Allerca claims weren't trustworthy enough for me to pursue beyond a certain point.)

Lots of sites will talk about how every Siberian is individual, and you should visit with particular kittens. In fact, if it's Fel d1 you're allergic to, Siberians can be lab tested. Only some Siberians are low in Fel d1. When they're kittens, they can't be tested reliably, but levels are inherited, so knowing the levels in the sire and dam is indicative. Saliva tests are best, and fur tests are also possible. You want saliva ranges of a few micrograms or less.

In addition to Fed d1, Siberians and all other cats have other allergens. If you are allergic to dogs, horses, or hamsters, Siberians have the allergens that they have, at levels comparable to other cats. Similarly, if your skin reacts to egg-white brushed onto the underside of your upper arm, Siberians and other cats share that allergen (serum albumin). Finally, asthma is a Type 1 allergy, which are moderated well with Siberians. But eczema is a Type 4, which are less well moderated.

Two breeders of low-allergen Siberian lines are here and here. The former is an amazing expert, with thousands of Siberians in genealogy charts and tons of information to share. He can also refer you to other breeders. The latter is the woman from whom we got our kitten. Her dam was one of the former breeder's kittens, he referred us to her, and he's helped her get established. In addition to our kitten being low-allergen, she's the best behaved, sweetest cat ever - a real testament both to her dam and her upbringing.

If you have any other questions about Siberians, I'm happy to try to help -- I spent so many hours getting this figured out that now I want to share the info!
posted by daisyace at 2:17 PM on May 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

Best answer: A few months ago I was in morning rounds with a bunch of allergists, and one of the presentations was on this. As far as I can remember, it was very shady. They had, I believe, one published paper that was very poorly done and not convincing. They really haven't presented the research to back up their claim that they knocked out the Fel-d-1 antigen. Also (again, if I remember correctly), I believe the guy who owns the company has a history of specious claims on past products.

Hope that's some help.
posted by deliquescent at 2:23 PM on May 22, 2008

A few folks in this thread said they were going to or already had put deposits down on the Allercat. Maybe send them a MeFi mail and see what they have to say?
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:23 PM on May 22, 2008

Joyceanmachine, my apologies for this comment being NOT what you asked, but: did you know you can get a series of personally-tailored allergy shots that (after a year or two) make you immune to your previous allergies? Maybe you don't have to look for a hypoallergenic cat after all?
posted by GardenGal at 7:58 AM on May 24, 2008

« Older divx? DVD? what?   |   Whatever happened to Pretty Levine? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.