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Oregon Teen Discovers Trick to Avoiding Cat Allergies

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For anyone who has ever wanted to have a cat for a pet but was prohibited by allergies, one Oregon teen may have found a solution.

Savannah Tobin, 17, is a high school senior in Oregon who volunteers at a local humane society. Savannah's love for cats was never a question, but she could never keep one as a pet because both she and her mother suffer from allergies. Her work at the Willamette Humane Society in Salem, Ore., made her wonder whether there were certain types of cats that would not affect her or her mother.

After doing some research, Savannah found out that it isn't hair or dander that causes allergic reactions, but rather the cat's saliva that prompted her allergy attacks.

"As they groom themselves, they're covering their body in that protein. So we're actually allergic to the saliva and it's not the hair," Tobin says.

Now, Savannah can perform swab tests and analyze a cat's saliva to determine which of her furry friends are hypo-allergenic. Her idea won her the Intel bio-chemistry award this year. This autumn, Tobin will attend the University of California-Davis.

No word yet on whether she will bring along a furry friend.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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