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Keep My Cat -- Or My Boyfriend Who Has a Cat Allergy?

I'd never considered having to make this decision, until fate forced my hand.

 |  Nov 28th 2012  |   57 Contributions


Many years ago, when I was single and dating, my priorities were on finding a compatible person, and, of course, my cat had to like the person too. What I didn’t think about was cat allergies. After all, in my online dating profile, I mentioned that I had a cat. Wouldn’t that automatically exclude people who were allergic to cats?

It didn't.

I met a really awesome guy named Zunaid who is handsome, smart, and funny. We hit it off on our first date at a sushi restaurant. Zunaid mentioned that he loved animals but was allergic to them. 

I didn’t give this much thought when he told me. Most people I knew with cat allergies got itchy eyes and sneezed a bit after a few hours of cat exposure. I figured Zunaid would be the same and that it wasn’t a big deal because it was so early in our relationship. Who knew if this guy would be The One?

The first time Zunaid visited my place, he petted the cat, and Furball gave his purr of approval. It seemed like the allergies weren’t so severe after all.  

About five minutes later, Zunaid mentioned that his eyes were starting to feel a bit itchy. Ten minutes in, he started clearing his throat. At the 15-minute mark, he started coughing and said his eyes were burning. I asked whether we should go outside, but he decided to tough it out. Five minutes later, he was wheezing and said that his throat was closing up. We exited the apartment in a hurry and spent the next hour hanging out in the hallway.

It was clear we had a problem, but because we really liked each other, we continued dating. We just avoided spending any prolonged amount of time at my place. 

Weeks of dating turned into months. Then, the months added up to two years. The time had come to answer the question that had always been the elephant in the room, or in this case, the black cat. 

Did we keep the cat or give him away? 

I loved my cat. When I adopted Furball, I made a lifetime commitment. I had always judged people who gave their pets away. I couldn’t be one of those people, or could I?

But if I didn’t give my cat away, Zunaid would be forced to suffer with his allergies. Was that fair? He was tired of the sneezing, wheezing, and coughing. What was I going to do? Who was I going to choose?

The answer will surprise you.

Close up view of cat by Shutterstock.

It turned out I didn’t have to choose. Zunaid told me to keep the cat and he would live with the allergies. We moved in together into a bright, spacious townhouse. We had a half dozen air filters running 24/7. It sounded like a wind tunnel when they were on. 

With the air filters running and the bedrooms designated as cat free zones, Zunaid managed to survive by taking allergy medication. However, over time, the pills became less effective. Many nights, Zunaid would go to sleep wheezing. The poor guy suffered a lot.

One fateful day, Zunaid decided enough was enough and sought out alternative healing methods. A decade earlier, he had cured himself of ulcerative colitis solely through meditation and visualization. He decided to try it for his allergies.

I also showed him several Chinese reflexology points that he could massage. These points corresponded to energy meridians in his body, which in traditional Chinese medicine were related to allergies. Zunaid began massaging his feet daily.

Zunaid and Furball have bonded.

He also began seeing one of my acupuncture professors to strengthen his “lung qi.” The professor gave him bags of stinky Chinese herbs to make into herbal tea. 

With the combination of meditation, Chinese reflexology, acupuncture, and herbs, Zunaid’s allergies began to improve. Over the course of two years, the shift was so gradual, we almost didn’t notice it happening. And then one day, we realized that Zunaid was no longer allergic to the cat. 

Zunaid’s been allergy-free for more than three years. We’ve been married for more than five years and have a beautiful son and one awesome cat. 

P.S. As I was writing this article, I asked my husband why he started dating me even though he knew I had a cat. His charming answer, “I thought you were hot.”

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