Oct. 6, 2006 — -- "AL721" is an Allerca GD. That sounds like a piece of machinery, maybe an android like R2D2 in Star Wars. But it's not -- it's a cat.
Obviously no ordinary cat -- AL721, otherwise known as Josh, has been specially created by the San Diego-based company Allerca for a special market.
Josh is one of the world's first hypoallergenic cats.
"No itchy eyes, no scratchy throat, no welts, no bumps. Just a little furry," says Allerca veterinarian Dr. Bernardine Cruz, who is herself allergic to cats. Josh has been selectively bred to not give you an allergic reaction.
What makes most people allergic to cats is a protein secreted by the cat's skin and salivary glands. Allerca found a way to identify some cats that are "genetically divergent" -- hence the GD in Josh's trademark title. These cats don't produce the protein that makes humans itch and sneeze.
There is no genteic engineering involved in the process; Josh is no "Franken-cat." Allerca selects the cats that have the right attributes and by breeding from them creates non-allergenic cats.
For millions of people like Cruz, this is an incredible scientific break through.
"It's huge. I am so excited. I can't wait to get my cat,"said Judy Smith, a cat lover from Boston, who developed allergies in adulthood. "I can't wait to be able to be with a cat without having trouble breathing. It's amazing."
Judy is on Allerca's waiting list. The Allerca cats will be bred to order in a variety of colors with medium hair.
They come with a price tag of $3,950, plus $900 for shipping and handling, but for allergic cat lovers they will be priceless.