Cat allergies, cat hearts, cat cuteness: an update on all things cats.

Many apologies to people who don’t come here to hear about the cats.
This won’t take long.

I just wanted to give two quick updates. The first is to let you all know that Phoebe is doing amazingly well despite having an insanely malformed heart. The meds have perked her up, so she and Trout are playing all the time. To look at her you’d never think anything was wrong. So thank you so much for allΒ  your supportive thoughts and let’s hope she stays with us a good while.

The second update is on allergies. I’ve posted about this before. When we got Phoebe I was technically allergic to cats, but I decided to push on through that little impediment, powered by the twin engines of Denial and Will, just as I’d done when we got our dog. It worked.

Then Trout came into our lives. I hoped that I’d get a pass on the allergies, as I’d already adjusted to Phoebe. But instead I had to start all over fresh with him. And it was worse this time around. Not least because Trout is super affectionate and is always, quite literally, in my face. (He kisses!)

I worried that I might have overloaded my system beyond all tolerance, but guess what? The symptoms have been gone for almost a month now, long enough for me to declare victory over pet allergies–my third victory so far.

The secret? Pig-headedness. Willingness to be constantly snotty. Absolute faith in mind over matter. I took nothing for relief, nothing at all. Not even nettle tea this time, because I was out of nettles. I think it’s important not to have a crutch, to force your body to work through it. The whole process took about three months.

I realize that there are people with worse allergies than mine, and I don’t mean to underplay anybody else’s experiences. I’m sure some allergies are so severe that they can’t be ignored. But I’m intrigued that this works, for me as well as for others I’ve heard from, and just wanted to say that it is possible to break free.

Leave a comment


  1. I’ve been suffering from some sort of mystery allergy for almost 2 months. I’ve tried eliminating everything I can think of and still my body from the neck up is just crazy and itchy. I’m pretty sure this is some sort of chemical/environmental reaction. Do you know if the nettle/licorice thing works on any sort of allergic reaction or is it just seasonal allergies?

  2. @Jennifer: Sorry to hear about your allergy. I only have heard of nettle being used in conjunction with seasonal allergies. On the other hand, nettle tea is really good for you, so it can’t hurt to drink it anyway, if you are curious. But it sounds like you’d do best to consult with a professional herbalist.

    When I have itchy, irritated skin my first, simple recourse is mashing up cooling plants and spreading their juices on my skin–plants like aloe vera, chickweed (stellaria media), mallow (the weed, common mallow) and plantain (plantago major).

    If you live in cold country, these won’t be growing right now, unfortunately. Here in LA they’re all coming up fresh. If I don’t have any fresh, I use salves that I make (as described in the Caledula posts; and–but your condition sounds more systemic, less local.

    Sorry I can’t be of more help!

  3. @Parsimony: I knew someone would say that! πŸ™‚ I wish I could bring my mother forward to testify on how allergic I am to cats, how I my eyes swelled shut in the pet store that one time & etc, etc., how inherited it from her mother, who was terribly allergic, how my brother is so allergic that he can’t visit me now that I’ve gone and got cats. She’s amazed.

  4. Pigheadedness is a very useful tool, sometimes. I’m doing the same with my non-life-threatening food allergies.

    Hugs for Phoebe and Trout.

    Some cats have more allergenic dander than others, I have noticed. I had one that was a kisser like Trout and he gave hugs. Unfortunately I had the worst reaction to it! (I still let him smooch and hug me for every one of his 17 years.)

  5. My brother had the same experience as you. He used to be quite allergic to cats (sneezing, red eyes, runny nose, etc.), but he married a cat lover. At some point, not long after he and his wife got their first cat, his allergic reaction lessened considerably; now, he doesn’t react at all. So maybe you’re on to something!

  6. Yay Phoebe!! And yay for overcoming allergies. I’ve lived with cats all my life, literally from the crib (“they’re going to smother her!” was the chorus from horrified grand and great grandparents at the sight of cats sleeping peacefully alongside baby me), but I did pass through a time when I thought I was suddenly allergic, which would have been a tragedy of epic proportions. I would pet them, and then if I touched my face near my eyes or nose I would have a terrible reaction – itchy red eyes, sneezing, the whole shebang. Well it turned out that it was not the cat but the cat’s fleas that I’m allergic to, so if I came in contact with fleas or their poop it would set me off. The new (well, they used to be new) once a month flea meds like Frontline, etc. were like magic for me.

    Sending healthy happy kitty vibes from Venezuela. πŸ™‚

  7. Some people are successful at building up a tolerance to cat allergies. I had pretty bad cat allergies–itchy swollen eyes, runny nose, itchy lips and swollen tongue–pretty major reactions. But my husband and I adopted two senior cats from the pound one day and it took about 2 months, but now I am complete fine around them. One sleeps on my pillow/face at night. The other gives kisses too. It’s possible to build up an immunity to cat allergies and probably more common than people realize.

  8. I used to be severely allergic to cats (couldn’t be in a cat home more than 20 minutes). At one point I quit smoking and became a vegetarian, only to discover that all my allergies (cats, anaphylactic-reaction food allergies) had disappeared. Apparently I had accidentally cleaned my system and it could tolerate the allergens again. I’m still a non-smoker and no longer a vegetarian. My allergies to cats linger, but are extremely mild. We have two cats πŸ™‚

  9. It’s so wonderful to hear good news! I hope Phoebe continues to out-perform expectations. And Trout . . . what an absolutely handsome guy!

    We just adopted another abandoned kitten. She came to us in September at 4 weeks old with a respiratory infection, ear mites, and a chlamydia infection in her eyes. She’s all better now and the vet is a few hundred dollars richer, but it’s hard to remember life before Charlotte. She’s still quite small for her age, but there’s no question who’s in charge around here now.

    Continued good luck with the allergies!!

  10. Marriage gave me an opportunity to overcome my cat allergy and I had the same experience. Former sneezer, now happiest when a cat is curled on my chest purring.

  11. Good for you! That’s wonderful news. When you first posted about the allergies I was worried for you; kittens often don’t cause problems but grow into adults who make cat allergies really bad– and then their poor humans are attached to them! I’m happy for you.

  12. Congrats on overcoming your allergies! I love cats, had one for the first dozen years of my life, until my little sister developed an allergy. We adopted my cat about 5 months after my little sis was born, and she was fine for about 8 years. Then, she developed such severe allergies that she lost 50% of her lung capacity. She has gained most of that back, though complications of that brought on asthma as well, which she is still plagued by. She owns a chihuahua now, as they’re a pretty allergen friendly dog, but she still has trouble being around cats…lung capacity starts declining, she starts wheezing…it’s something she has tried to power through and has not been able to. Simply too severe.

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