Huzzah, Huzzah. A genuine boon to a hurting world:
A small California biotech company says it is ready to deliver the Holy Grail of the $35 billion pet industry: a hypoallergenic cat.
At the start of next year, the first kittens — which the company calls “lifestyle pets” — will go home to eager owners who have been carefully screened and have been on a waiting list for more than two years.
Since it announced the project in October 2004, the company, Allerca, of San Diego, says it has received inquiries from people in 85 countries seeking to buy a cat bred so that its glands do not produce the protein responsible for most human cat allergies.
Cats ordered now will take 12 to 15 months for delivery in the United States, 15 to 18 months in Europe. Cost: $4,000. And owners must pass Allerca’s finicky screening tests.
Prospective buyers are interviewed for motivation and warmth, approved as if they were adopting a child. Will they punish if kitty has an accident on the floor or scratches the furniture? Their families and their homes — from carpets to curtains — must also be evaluated for allergies and allergens.
“You’re not just buying a cat; it’s a medical device that replaces shots and pills,” said Megan Young, chief executive of Allerca. “At the same time, this is a living animal, so the well-being of our product comes before our customers. This is not some high-priced handbag that you put back on the shelf if it doesn’t match.”