Cats Make Me Scratch

Cat Lovers Are Unconvinced

cat scratch makes woman allergic

I wanted this blog to be positive, free of fiery and fierce political rhetoric. I did not want to make it a forum for hate speech or rigid doctrinaire policy statements.

In the interests of free speech, I even let a friend post a “Go Cleveland” comment in response to my “Go Golden State Warriors” essay. That’s how fair-minded I am!

But the time has come for me to take a stand. I need to state for the record – clearly and loudly: Please believe me. Please accept that I really am allergic to cats. Do not think ill of me. They just make me ill. 

To cat fanciers everywhere, I say: I do not challenge your love of felines. I even accept your Facebook photos of your furry friends. In return, all I ask is that you accept that I am highly allergic to cats and cannot be around them.

Believe it or not, cat lover or not, this is actually a problem. Cat owners almost universally refuse to accept that people are allergic to their pets. They just cannot believe it. When I tell them/you this, they/you pepper me with questions like I’m some sort of pot roast.

Let Me Count the Ways

“How allergic are you?” “What happens?” “Do you ‘just’ sneeze?” “Do you break out in hives?” “How sick do you really get?”

It’s like the Spanish Inquisition (minus the rack, of course). These questions and doubt make me want to scream and cry. I mean nobody challenges you when you have a broken bone. They never ask “Is it really broken?” or “How broken is it?”

But say you’re allergic and you’re required to detail your symptoms. So, for the record: First, I feel an unpleasant, impossible to appease tickle in my throat. Then my scalp starts to itch causing me to discretely try to scratch my head without looking like I have lice or bed bugs. Then my eyes water and my mascara runs. That’s just the warm-up.

Then my throat constricts. My skin starts crawling. I feel like there are ants all over my body. My skin gets blotchy and bumpy, resembling a lunar landscape. I sneeze till my head aches. My nose runs like Niagara Falls. My breath shortens and wheezing sets in. It’s not pretty and it’s not fun.

In my dating days, being allergic to cats was no big deal. When you’re young, you don’t go to dinner parties at someone’s home. You eat out. If you’re inclined to spend the night at a guy’s place, it’s unlikely that the manly man in question has a kitty. He’s probably a dog kind of guy.

Anaphylactic Shock on the Menu?

However, now in middle-age, when we all have become hostesses-with-the-mostesses, dinner parties are de rigueur. Sure we eat out with friends, but mostly we take turns eating at one another’s homes. This makes the “no-house-with-a-cat-shall-I-enter” policy a problem.

And I have to confess, Handsome Hubby (HH) is part of the problem. After 31 years of marriage, he sometimes forgets to ask the critical “Do you have cats?” question when he’s the one accepting a dinner invitation.

Once as we headed out the door for dinner at his colleague’s home, I asked, “You did check, right?”

“Check what?” he cluelessly asked.

“If they have a cat,” I replied, my body tensing.

HH looked like I had just zapped him with a Taser. He hadn’t asked. Of course. So, 30 minutes before we were supposed to arrive, hubby calls and asks if they have a tabby. They do. Of course.

I say, “You have to go alone.”

He says, “We’ll cancel.”

I say, “Twenty-six minutes before the dinner? I don’t think so.”

He says, “I cannot leave you alone.”

I say, “We cannot both not go at the last minute.”

He says, “Oh, I guess not.”

So, he goes solo. I stay home, eat PB and J, and fume. After 31 years, how does he forget to ask?

Reciprocity or Death

Friends come for dinner. They generously want to reciprocate. Take my dear friend Selena. I am using her real name because I have only nice things to say about her. Selena and her husband, Dan, came over for dinner some months ago. They must have had a nice time because they want to have us over now. In fact, they keep insisting on it. We’d love to, but we cannot go, because they have a tabby.

Selena has employed a number of cunning strategies to lure me to their abode. 1. She has promised to schedule a house cleaning the day of a dinner, coupled with keeping the cat in the basement. 2. She has suggested dinner on the deck. 3. She has “conned” me into picking up a book at her house and standing at her front door, sort of a first step to stepping into the house.

Meanwhile, she and Dan have spent a medium-sized fortune treating us to amazing dinners out. It’s very generous, but also embarrassing. Can’t we just do potluck dinners at our house? HH and I repeatedly suggest, but to no avail.

Dinner and Cat Naps

Several cat-loving friends who like to entertain at home suggest I take Benadryl before coming over for dinner. I explain that Benadryl knocks me out. “So?” they always say.

“Huh?” I reply, trying to imagine how a dinner party can be fun if I sleep through it.

One afternoon another fiendish feline fan/friend suggested we go to a movie. Her top pick? Kedi, a Turkish feature-length film about a few of Istanbul’s hundreds of thousands of street cats, and their human friends.

The Hollywood Reporter hailed the film as “Enlightening if you’re not a cat person, straight-up catnip if you are.” I thought not and told my friend to go alone.

In Conclusion, It’s a Doggy World

And so it goes. Friends have cats and dinner parties we cannot attend. Just the other night, a group gathered for a lobster feast. It sounded fun, but HH and I could not attend because of my allergy. We dined at home, accompanied only by Olga, our new Labrador/greyhound pooch rescued from Florida’s Hurricane Irma.

Olga was airlifted to Northern California and came to us via the Berkeley Humane Society. She is skittish, suffers from separation anxiety, and overall is a bit of a challenge, but at least she doesn’t make me itch. Despite her whiny ways, I’ve already grown to love her.

Olga is, in fact, the cat’s meow.

2 replies
    • Karen
      Karen says:

      Ah, you knew who remembered you were the “Go Cavs” post … and my autocorrect just changed it to “Go Cats”! How funny.


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