Cats nip allergies in bud


Allergy-free CatsTo continue previously published news about allergy-free cats.

A California company is busy breeding seemingly magical kitties that won’t make you tear up, ending the misery for allergic cat lovers everywhere but hitting them hard in the pocketbook.

The fancy felines, called “lifestyle pets,” cost $4,000 and are selectively bred because they lack a protein in their saliva that in most cats produces the allergens that give people so much grief.

“We look to provide really special animals for people who have been deprived,” said Steven May, spokesman for Allerca, the San Diego company that is taking applications for the hypoallergenic kitties, including several from Boston customers.

The cats, which will be shipped in a specialized cushy cargo carrier, won’t be ready until next spring, but requests are piling up - although May wouldn’t say how many. He stressed that the company is not cloning cats but instead breeding the ones without the protein.

Not everyone thinks the idea is purrfect or even felicitous.

Up to 4 million cats end up at animal shelters each year, including nearly 4,500 in Boston, according to the U.S. Humane Society.

“It’s always discouraging to hear of a fad animal or an animal that’s going to solve everyone’s problems. We don’t need more animals created. We need more homes created,” said Meagan Rock, manager of the animal care and adoption center at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Jamaica Plain.

“We struggle to find cats homes because there are so many of them,” Rock added.

Nancy Peterson, an issues specialist at the U.S. Humane Society, worried some formerly deprived cat lovers might not be prepared for the messy litter boxes, yowling and couch scratching.

“It seems that for people who have never been confronted with normal cat behavior, they may find it objectionable,” she said.

Anyone with cat allergies who is thinking about buying an Allerca pet should check with their doctor, said Elaine Rosenburg, executive director of the New England chapter of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

“Many physicians will tell you that nothing is necessarily guaranteed hypoallergenic,” she said.