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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1997 Sep;100(3):307-12.

Evaluation of different techniques for washing cats: quantitation of allergen removed from the cat and the effect on airborne Fel d 1.

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University of Virginia Asthma and Allergic Diseases Center, Charlottesville 22908, USA.



The purpose of this study was to examine the quantity and distribution of the major cat allergen, Fel d 1, on cats and to evaluate the efficacy of washing, both in removing allergen from the cat and reducing airborne allergen levels.


Airborne samples were collected on four glass fiber filters in a 30 m3 room, before and 3 hours after serial washing of eight cats (45-minute sampling at 18 L/min for each filter). Aliquots of hair and bath water were also collected and assayed for Fel d 1 content.


Extracting cat hair with tap water or pet shampoo for 3 minutes removed mean levels of 191 and 245 microg of Fel d 1 per gram of hair, respectively; the quantity of allergen on samples of cat hair ranged from 1 microg/gm to more than 1770 microg/gm. The highest concentration of allergen was found on hair from the neck. Estimates of the total Fel d 1 on the cat, based on shaving the whole cat, ranged from 3 to 142 mg (mean = 67 mg). Washing cats reduced airborne allergen 3 hours later. Washing three cats at weekly intervals for 5 weeks in a veterinarian's office produced a mean decrease of 44% in airborne Fel d 1 (n = 15, p < 0.02). Washing three cats by immersion for 3 minutes at weekly intervals for a 1-month period produced a mean decrease in airborne allergen of 79% (n = 12, p < 0.001). However, after repeated washing, the airborne levels before the next wash were not consistently decreased. The quantity of Fel d 1 removed by immersion varied from 1 to 35 mg.


Cats carry large quantities of Fel d 1, only a small proportion of which (approximately 0.002%/hr) becomes airborne. Washing cats by immersion will remove significant allergen from the cat and can reduce the quantity of Fel d 1 becoming airborne. However, the decrease is not maintained at 1 week.

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[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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