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On The Prowl with Nick Mays

Heather Mills to speak on animal welfare for major international conference

Former model turned animal welfare campaigner Heather Mills is set to join the speakers at the 8th International Companion Animal Welfare Conference held on 26-27 October

ANIMAL WELFARE experts and enthusiasts from over 40 countries will be gathering in the charming city of Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia, for the eighth International Companion Animal Welfare Conference (ICAWC).

The headline guest for this year’s event is Heather Mills, renowned across the world as a passionate animal welfare campaigner.

Organised by the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, Dogs Trust, and the USA’s North Shore Animal League International, the event is expected to attract around 300 delegates over two days.

ICAWC is established as the foremost companion animal welfare conference in the world. The international conference was founded with the aim of working towards a world where no healthy companion animal is destroyed for want of a caring home, with responsible owners.

World specialists in many fields essential to successful animal welfare will be providing expert speeches. Topics include animal welfare legislation; veterinary care and prevention of disease; behaviour challenges in shelter dogs; and education.

Co-chairmen Clarissa Baldwin, Dogs Trust Chief Executive, and Roger Weeks, Director of North Shore Animal League International, explain:

“ICAWC is simply the best place to find out about the very latest and best in animal welfare. Anyone caring for companion animals cannot afford to miss out on this opportunity of hearing from such expert speakers, as well as the chance to learn from fellow practitioners from around the world. It’s only by listening to other people about what works, and what doesn’t, that we can hope to improve the lives of pet animals across the globe.

“We are absolutely thrilled this year that Heather Mills will be speaking at the Conference. Her renowned passion for animal welfare will unquestionably help spread the word of the importance of companion animals to a wide audience in many countries, and we are delighted that she is giving us such wonderful support.”

Booking details:
Conference registration fee: 40 Euros per person
Workshop attendance fee: 10 Euros per person
There are two Workshops: Building a Shelter, and Feral Cats.
Delegates need to complete and return a registration form. This is available online at www.icawc.org

Or please contact:
Tina Barker, ICAWC, 17 Wakley Street, London EC1V 7RQ, United Kingdom. Fax: +44 (0) 20 7833 2701.

Hypoallergenic cats go on sale

FOR ALLERGIC animal lovers, it’s the answer to a prayer. An American biotech firm has bred a cat it claims is ‘allergy free’.

Although several companies and scientific facilities claimed to have produced hypoallergenic cats, California-based biotech firm Allerca has finally delivered the goods – albeit at a rather hefty price tag.

Allergic reactions to animals are caused by a protein that is excreted in saliva, skin glands and urine. The special felines were selectively bred by reducing this trigger protein.

The hypoallergenic felines are now on sale in America and will appeal to people who would normally develop red eyes, sneezing runny noses and breathing difficulties when around cats.
However, the cat will cost far more than one from your average cat breeder. Prices start at £2,000 each - plus a £500 shipping fee.

Despite this there is already a long waiting list from people in both the US and UK who would like to own a cat they can stroke and hug without sneezing.

Allerca tested thousands of cats trying to find the tiny fraction that do not carry the glycoprotein Fel D1, which produces allergies. A number of cats that had been identified as having a genetic divergence in the code of the feline D1 gene were then selectively bred.

Natural Method

Company spokesman Steve May said it was a natural method. He said: “This is a natural gene divergence within the cat DNA - one out of 50,000 cats will have this divergence.

“So naturally divergent cats were found and then bred so there is really no modification of the gene.”

Dr Bernadine Cruz, one of Allerca’s leading scientists added: “These cats have been naturally bred. Allerca found a naturally occurring divergence in the specific gene sequence and bred from there. Since it is natural, there are no long-term effects to worry about beyond natural evolution.”

In the US alone 38 million households own a cat, and around the world an estimated one in three humans suffer from allergies.

According to the World Health Organisation, throughout Europe asthma and allergies have become increasingly prevalent over the last few decades, affecting more than ten per cent of children.

Dr Sheldon Spector, an allergist and clinical professor at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) who conducted an independent trial which tested the hypoallergenic nature of the kittens, said: “This observation exposure shows the Allerca cat has hypoallergenicity.

“I believe our design is very unique and a first of its kind since observing exposure to a hypoallergenic cat is so new to out field.”


However, animal rights groups are insisting that the breeding of these cats is unethical and that they will be prone to health problems later in life, such as deafness, blindness, physical deformities, and a host of other ailments, although they have not produced any evidence to back up their claims.

A spokesperson for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) said: “While companies like Allerca irresponsibly treat cats as nothing more than today’s latest designer handbag just to earn a buck, millions of animals die each year due to lack of good homes.”



When top Siamese breeder/exhibitor Christina Knowlson discovered lymphoma in a line of Siamese bred out of her two-year-old Seal Tabby Point Siamese, Imperial Grand Champion Drestothril Daktari (the first adult Imperial Grand Champion Siamese in the world), she was horrified.

In just six months, four of his progeny developed Lymphosarcoma and were put to sleep. She was desperate to know what to do.

It looked as though Lymphoma in Siamese cats was set to become the breed’s own bette noire like PKD in Persian lines and worse, Christina was receiving very little help from fellow breeders who denied that there was any genetic tendency within certain bloodlines for the cancer to develop.

To find out what Christina did next and how the Lymphoma might be isolated by genetic testing, read the in-depth, hard-hitting article in the 20th October issue of OUR CATS.