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Researchers may have a new drug to help people with cat allergies

Researchers in Alburquerque are working on a new type of allergy shot geared specifically for people with pet allergies.
Researchers in Alburquerque are working on a new type of allergy shot geared specifically for people with pet allergies.
Eve-Angeline Mitchell

Researchers in New Mexico are studying a drug that may help people who are allergic to cats actually have cats. According to a Feb. 17, 2014 story on the KOAT-Albuquerque website, the drug, called Catpad, does not yet have FDA approval, but it requires significantly fewer shots than other allergy shot regimens.

Dr. Steven Tolber, of the Allergy and Airway Treatment Center in Albuquerque, said that many people put up with allergy symptoms in order to keep their pets. With the new drug, however, they may not have to. They may also not have to go through the years of "build-up" and maintenance that traditional allergy shots require.

One of the most common reasons people give up their cats to shelters is allergies. There are measures you can take to reduce your allergy symptoms, such as brushing and bathing your cat regularly to reduce dander, installing air purifiers in your house, and more. But sometimes, the allergies are just too severe. Shannon Downen Cook, of Bloomington, Ill., has allergies so terrible that having cats are not possible at all.

"I would go to work and have no problems all day. Within 30 minutes of coming home I would be sneezing, my eyes would start watering and I would just be itchy everywhere," she said. "At first it was tolerable and I thought if I just kept everything super clean I could make it work. However, one day I forgot to close the door to our bedroom and the cats were in there. About an hour after I went to bed I woke up with a full on allergy attack and was even having trouble breathing. Apparently laying my face on a pillow they had been on was just too much. It was at this point I had to make the very tough decision that they had to go back and join their siblings."

Thankfully, their siblings were with another loving person, so the cats, Seiko and Katana, had a good chance of finding another good home.

According to WebMD, researchers at Cambridge in the U.K. have also been working on something to block the immune response to the protein responsible for most cat allergies. This particular protein is prevalent in cat dander.

With so much work going on to reduce cat allergies and help people keep their cats, perhaps sometime in the near future, we'll start to see a reduction in owner surrenders at shelters. This is promising research.

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