For all of my twenties, I wanted a dog but was not in a place to get one.
“Why don’t you just get a cat?” my stepmom would suggest. To which I would respond, “Bah!” I’d also follow-up with “Well, I’m more of a dog person and that doesn’t seem fair. And I’m kind of allergic . . .”
But now my boyfriend and I have decided to get a cat. Life without a pet isn’t real life at all, and his brother, who owns the house we live in, hates dogs and doesn’t want to change his homeowners insurance policy. Since we’ve decided to stay put for now, that leaves us with either no pet or a cat. It’s also very hard to deny a cat to a guy who rubs the bridge of your nose when your eyes are closed and says gleefully, “Just like a kitty!”
So I started doing some research into how adopting a cat might work.
The allergy plan of attack is to start small. Kittens usually don’t bother me much, and adult cats that I’m used to don’t bother me at all. When I stay with friends who have cats, my allergies go nuts when I first arrive, and then usually calm down by the end of the weekend. The local vet I spoke to said people usually get used to their own animals, so I figure getting a kitten will allow my immune system time to adapt. There’s also best-practices to consider, like bathing the cat regularly and keeping a clean house (ugh).
If all else fails, there’s always acepromazine. There’s been plenty of chatter on the internet about cat-allergy drugs and vaccines you give to the cat so it won’t bug your allergies, but nothing’s gone to market yet. What IS out there is the tranquilizer acepromazine, which the local vet said will subdue allergy triggers when given to the cat orally in very small doses. It’s also cheap, far cheaper than diving into human medicine to treat myself.
There’s also softer science to consider. Studies that have been disputed but are in the “hey, worth a shot” category: female, long-haired, and lighter-colored cats are supposedly less likely to antagonize human allergies. This is also helpful in that I’m a sucker for ginger kitties but would have otherwise been guilted into getting a black cat owing to their difficulties in getting adopted. It’s a convenient excuse to get the color of cat I prefer, even as I wonder about the science behind it—is there a psycho-somatic link between people reporting worse allergies around a black cat versus lighter-colored cats? Were the people allowed to see the cats? Also, the boyfriend and I both prefer long-haired cats. I find long cat hair easier to remove from my clothing because it tends to rest on top of the fabric, where short hair wedges itself into the fabric. For his part, the boyfriend’s sole feline requirement is that our pet be “fluffy.”
It’s about to be kitten season at the local animal shelter, so we’ll see how this goes. I’ve just now realized that I don’t know if the boyfriend thinks it is acceptable to give our cat a human moniker, so this research could all go to hell in just a few minutes. I will not foist upon the planet another animal with a human’s name, as only imbeciles, my parents, both of my closest friends and half of the cool people I know commit such an atrocity.
Image via Helen Haden on Flickr.