The Things We Do In The Name Of Family
I was never around cats as a kid. Dad was terribly allergic which severely limited the selection of animals we were able to open our home to. I grew up with dogs.
But through an unfortunate series of events, my first pet as an adult living on my own was a cat. She came to me by way of a tweeked-out ex who was flying home for Christmas and couldn’t be bothered to bring her indoors while he was gone. That’s how Sasha came into my home.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t until about three months later—well past the point where I’d ever give her up—that I developed a horrible cat allergy and ended up spending the next two years living on antihistamines and rescue inhalers until I moved to a no-pet apartment building and she went to live out her days with Mom.
The cat allergy has never really gone away. I can spend very brief periods around them without medication, and even being doped up on Benadryl I can last about an hour or so before my eyes turn red and I start sneezing.
All these years I’ve fancied myself a cat person, in spite of the allergy, but after having dogs for the past three years, that’s not so true any more.
This past week I’ve been tending to my sister’s cat herd (she has seven of the beasts) while she and her husband are out of town. I wasn’t going to turn down $200 if it meant taking a few Benadryl now and then—and because she was loading them up with self-watering/feeding bowls I could get away with looking in on them only every other day.
The first day (the day after they left) wasn’t bad. The seven litter boxes (yes, seven) were mostly empty and I was able to scoop out everything and put it in a single grocery bag to be deposited in the trash. I’d pre-medicated and didn’t seem to suffer much.
Last night, however, was an entirely different story. Every litter box was full, and I ended up using four grocery bags to haul the mess out to the trash. One bowl (the recirculating water bowl) had gone empty and one feeder was also bare. I figured since I was in and out so quickly the last time with no lasting repercussions, I could afford to stay a little longer last night and really make sure everything was done completely.
One of her cats (the newest member of the family) is very affectionate. And very talkative. Another one, an older white female who lives in the sink in the guest bath makes it quite clear she doesn’t want to be touched in any way. The remainder are friendly but aloof, with one only being found deep under a bed and who has steadfastly refused to come out when I’m around.
After being at her place about 45 minutes last night (despite pre-medicating again) I went on a sneezing fit that seemed to last forever. I’m not surprised. My sister’s house is clutter central; she has knick-knacks and doo-dads everywhere (it makes me want to come home and start tossing stuff out) and from the looks of it the majority of them haven’t been dusted in ages. Add to the usual stuff are holiday decorations of every size and shape. In other words, it’s a dander-trap. By the time I left fifteen minutes later the areas where Simba (their newest) brushed against me had broken out in hives and my eyes were red and watering. As I locked up after finishing with the task at hand I was ready to tell my sister, “Please don’t ever ask me to do this again.”
I came home, ripped my contact lenses out and doused my eyes with anti-allergy drops. I took a couple puffs from my rescue inhaler and after about 30 minutes I felt more or less back to normal.
This morning, however, I have a scratchy throat and my eyes are itching again.
Thankfully my sister is back home midday Saturday so I won’t have to go over there again before they get back…