On Cats, and Allergies, and Marriage.

It took a long time for my husband to warm up to the idea of getting a cat… but when he agreed, he felt good with the decision. From his perspective the cat was Mine and My Responsibility, both fiscally and emotionally. We agreed. I got the cat.

My husband suffers many food allergies – by many, I mean 13 of the most common food items you could think of – no bread, no chocolate, no beef, no dairy, etc. His immune system is kind of a pansy. He also gets seasonal allergies, and is really sensitive to dust.

Since we’ve gotten the cat (over 1 year ago), he has the occasional allergy attack (hay-fever like symptoms.) He suffered these periodically long before we got the cat, but it seems to be at least a bit more frequent. We’ve found that weekly dusting, vacuuming, and laundering of the comforter and sheets makes a significant impact on these allergy attacks.

I love my cat with all of my heart and soul – I’m sure a number of Dopers can understand this. I have never cared more for an animal–never imagined I would ever be so happy with a pet.

Despite this deep and abiding love, I’ve told my husband a number of times that if it became necessary to find the cat a new home due to his allergies, then that’s what we’d do, but I requested that he see a doctor to at least test the cat-allergy hypothesis. His doctor told him that it was extremely unlikely he was having an allergic reaction to the cat, that it was probably dust. My husband preferred lifestyle changes to allergy medication and that’s how we started with the regular cleaning (which we probably should do anyways.)

But every time my husband mentions his sniffling to certain family members, we get an earful about how absolutely imperative it is to get rid of the cat and how it’s so obviously the cat because his father is allergic to cats. I feel like the worst wife ever for even asking to get a cat. I feel like they think I am subjecting him to an unhealthy situation because of my selfishness. Nobody’s ever actually said that part–I just feel guilty I guess.

Anyways, this week I’ve been really sick, and he’s been busy taking care of me. The house needs cleaning. And on the tail-end of my own recovery, my husband has come down with a major cold. We think. Seasonal allergies? Maybe, but I find it unlikely in December. The cat? I don’t know!!!

I told him again: I will lose the cat if it will make you healthy. ‘‘It’s not the cat,’’ he says dismissively. ‘‘Honey, snort, snuffle I appreciate that you would be willing to do… AAACHOOO!…that for me, but I really don’t think it’s the cat.’’ You see, my husband now loves the cat. It is no longer just ‘‘Olives’ Cat,’’ it is our cat. I see the adoration in my husband’s eyes when he gazes lovingly at kitty in his lap and whispers softly, ‘‘You will perish.’’ Hell, I think my cat likes my husband better. I don’t know if my husband is not allergic to the cat, is in denial, or he just doesn’t want to ask me to part with the creature I love so much… but I love no other creature as much as the one I married, and I’d rather have a healthy husband-creature than a sniffly one.

I guess I’m just seeking feedback–on animal allergies (which I know nothing about), on controlling allergens in the home, on how to tell a cold from allergies, on whether we should be investigating the cat hypothesis at more length, or what. It seems like an overall good opportunity to fight my ignorance on cats, allergies, and marriage.


Why not cleaning and allergy meds? I take zyrtec and there are no side effects–it’s 24 hours, non drowsy. Helps a ton.

Well, dust and such are extremely common culprits and if you aren’t cleaning regularly it’s most likely the problem. Questions to ponder: Do you have carpets? Have they been steam-cleaned lately? How often do you vacuum the mattress? Do you wash the bedding in hot water? Are you running the heater and not opening the windows? Do you have a good air filter on the intake and is it regularly changed?

Also, I’ve had good results from buying a portable HEPA filter and running it in my bedroom when my hay fever acts up. They’re not that expensive.

Anyway, about the cat. Has he actually been tested for cat allergies, or was the doctor just speculating on the chances? Seems to me he ought to get properly tested. It sounds like you’re just guessing right now.

Are you saying you think his cold was caused by the cat? Because colds are caused by viruses. Sometimes I get allergy symptoms so bad that it seems like a minor cold, but if he obviously has a major cold like you say, then it’s not the cat.

Shave the cat?

I don’t know, but your OP was sweet so I wanted to say hi.

For your own peace of mind, get him tested for cat allergies. You are not going to be comfortable until you know for sure.

I also recommend checking into allergy medications. Why doesn’t he want to take them? A friend of mine is allergic to cats - and she has three. Her meds keep her symptom-free (all of her allergies) and she says she doesn’t have any side effects.

I don’t get the angst. Get him tested for cat allergies. If he’s positive, there are some very tolerable medications for it. If they don’t work out, then worry about ditching the cat. This also has the added benefit of shutting up your nosy, ignorant in-laws.

We have 2 dogs and 4 cats.
My husband is allergic to cats, and also has seasonal allergies.
He chooses to take medication for his allergies, for which his doctor tested him, and prescribed meds.
He loves our pets, and wouldn’t even think of getting rid of them.
The allergy meds work great for him, and with regular cleaning, which I do anyway, things are going quite well.

My husband is an OTR truck driver, and he has his own cat (That he found as a tiny kitten, at a truck stop, in a blizzard, freezing, starving and dehydrated, which he promptly gathered up, took to his truck, warmed, fed, watered, took loving care of, and that has turned into his ‘trucker cat’ buddy, and they are inseparable!) that goes with him on every run.
He keeps a litterbox in the truck, food, water, treats, toys and a cat bed in there, too.
His cat chooses to sleep with him, though.
Cat allergies and medication can work out beautifully!
He’s proof of that.

I wish this worked for me. Zyrtec makes me drowsy.

An it’s an interesting OP. My boyfriend had a dog. (She just passed away recently.) And he’s talking about getting another one in the spring. He’s looking for some kind of lab mix. This is really frustrating for me because I’m allergic to most dogs except for the poodle mix varieties. So I can’t understand why he’d want to get another dog that will make me miserable. I’ve tried allergy meds and the only one that works without making me drowsy is Sudafed. But, it’s only a 4 hour thing. Not exactly a great fix.

So, I don’t really have an answer for you. I do know that cleaning always seemed to help when Angel was alive. Just before she died we purchased some air cleaners for his house. We have air cleaners where I live and also have 3 Schnoodles. And everyone seems to breathe easily here.

On Marriage and Cats:

As a sungle man I hated cats because I was allergic to them for one, and two because they had this mysterious quality that I thought they could see right through me…the way they looked at me and skulked around all the time, there was nothing about them I liked.

Then I got married to a cat lover. It is amazing what the power of love [read feline love] can do to a relationship. I stated over and over , “no, no, no, no” to having cats, she could have a fish if she wanted.

Oh yeah, right!

The after constant nagging and loving pleas she said how about a siamese cat, they had a tendency to be easier on the allergies and they were kinda cool looking, and didn’t have long hair.

Well, after years of saying no, one morning almost 5 years ago my wife said, “Hey honey! there is a breeder in town who has siamese cats! And she has kittens right now…

For some reason I said, fine, let’s go take a look. We got their and the breeder, a woman in her 60’s had a great sales technique. She asked us ot sit down in a beautiful living room, then she disappeared into a back room. She returned with an ARMFUL of siamese kittens and plopped them down on my wife. Who immediately melted…then the little pouty eyes came out, and not soon after my wallet came out.

Now we have two siamese attack cats who are complete joys. For this former cathater I can say that when you get cat’s as kittens your allergies tend to disappear as the kittens age. As they grow you get increasingly larger doses od their dander and your body reacts accordingly. At least that is what happened to me. As some of you can tell with my copious posting about my siamese I do love them dearly, they are cool little attack hurricanes. And I must admit they keep my legs warm when I’m watching TV. :slight_smile:

As for the OP, Olives is so damn sweet to begin with, I find it hard to believe anyone married to her would have a hard time accepting into their lives something she loves so much.

The air filter seems like a good idea no matter what, it’ll help with the seasonal and dust allergies even if he’s not allergic to the cat.

Get him tested anyway, just for peace of mind. And stop guilt-tripping yourself! :stuck_out_tongue:

After years of allergies, including to cats, we accumulated over a dozen of them (all very well cared for). I get shots and use inhalers and sprays and pills and top-performing air filters (thousands of dollars worth) and frequent alcohol wipes and soap washes, but for other allergies and pulmonary illness and to avoid colds. My cat allergy disappeared.

So, I absolutely sympathize with the love of the little guys.

It is easy to believe hubby has no cat allergy.

No matter what his allergies are, all these things can help. It is amazing how many things you can do.

Also amazing, I guess, that doing them all isn’t enough…

No helpful answers here, but I know cat allergies. I’m allergic to my cat to where I have to keep steroid eyedrops because my eyes swell shut at times. I love my cat, I’ve had her for 6 years and even though she kills my allergies she and I shall never part!

Another vote for getting tested. I got tested years ago, and it really does help to know exactly what you’re allergic to (trees and grass for me - not pets or anything else). Once you’re armed with the knowledge of what he’s allergic to, you can start fighting your battles from there - air filters, washable covers on furniture (I use old sheets wherever the cats sleep so I can just toss them in the washer - the sheets, not the cats), no cats in the bedroom, etc. My husband is allergic to cats (so we have limited ourselves to two :smiley: ), and these things all help a lot.

And tell your family members that your decision to have a cat was made by both of you - strongly implying that it’s none of their damned business.

I loved my cat, and still really miss him, but preventing my daughters allergies was more important. She didn’t want the cat to go, either.

I need to get rid of the cat bed in the garage - for some reason it makes my eyes water when I see it… I must be allergic too



Get hubby tested for cat allergy; you can even get him tested for allergy to your cat, so I think that’s what you should do (after all, he could be allergic to angora cats but not to yours). And allergy attacks don’t follow the cycle of “feeling like shit… ok, did someone get that truck’s plate… uhm, I think I can breathe again… oooooh, it is so nice to breathe!” in 7-10 days; colds do.