All my life I've been allergic to cats and dogs. Never as severe as in the past several years, but allergic all the same. In the past three years my pet allergy has gone through the roof, and the moment my face gets near a dog or cat, presto! Instant blowfish. If it were only as simple as keeping my face away from an animal, I'd be more inclined to visit my friends with pets more often. Other factors that make or break an allergic reaction include, but are not limited to, cleanliness of the house, cleanliness of the pet, friendliness of the pet (a dog that doesn't want to sit in my lap causes a far smaller reaction than one that does), etc.
Now I want to tell you a story. The story of the big-hearted idiot. This is my story, my friends.
About two weeks ago, on Monday evening, NAH came home from work and left the garage open, b/c it was garbage night. As he was in the house collecting the garbage, I heard crying coming from inside my garage. It was growing louder and louder, and increasingly more frantic. If I'd had to place bets, I would've told you there was a small goat being strangled in my garage.
When I opened the garage door, there was a very frightened cat sitting there, asking to come in. Not really asking, so much as trying to dive-bomb herself into my house the moment I opened the door. I quickly shut the door and called NAH (who himself grew up with a cat). Together we got a small bowl of milk and a small plate of tuna and took it outside.
He/She/It (?) Ate hungrily for a while, and we sat on the driveway while it did, trying to figure out what to do. The cat, when finished, jumped right into NAH's lap, purred a thank-you and promptly fell asleep. We noticed immediately that the cat was declawed, and had a perfectly smooth coat, ergo, she was someone's pet. No collar. When she woke up a few minutes later, she ran into our garage and frantically tried to get back into our house. So, we let her in. And yes, allergic parents and non-allergic parents, it was stupid. And I'd do it again (so there!).
See, a coworker of mine told me once that you don't adopt a cat, they adopt you. We spent that first night at the windows, hoping somebody would be outside looking for her. Nope. We knocked on every door on our block, hoping somebody would know to whom she belonged. Nope. So we had a house guest. NAH ran out to Petsmart, picked up food & a litter box, I started on Allegra and my inhaler, and we said a silent prayer that we'd find her owner before we left for Vegas.
Day 2 - Called every animal shelter and vet in a 30-mile radius. She hadn't been reported missing. Not helpful. Posted fliers around the entire neighborhood, at the local polling stations, with vets, animal shelters, etc. Nobody called. Allergies getting worse, breathing getting worse. Your allergic diner was growing increasingly frightened. I couldn't very well take someone else's pet to a shelter, so we were just going to have to keep her(like I said. I'm an idiot. But my heart is in the right place). In the midst of this, allergic mom calls from her vacation to check in and see how things are going (knowing nothing of the cat). "You're wheezing," she says to me. "Must be the connection," I said to her. She didn't buy it. We walked the cat around the block that evening trying to see if she'd go up to one of the houses,or recognize anything. She simply kept running straight up our driveway and back to our house. While I was pleased that she was happy there, I was getting a little worried. Again, asked around the neighborhood, but nobody seemed to know where she belonged. In the meantime, the cat owned our house. It was really quite funny. She took to a chair in NAH's office and would spend HOURS curled up on it, purring and rolling around.
Day 3 - took her to the local vet to see if she was microchipped. She wasn't. But we learned she was a she, in good health, and relatively getting up there in age. Local vet had no record of having treated her. We both sent frantic emails to everyone we worked with explaining the vacation situation and requesting the possibility of "foster parents" until we could locate her owners? Night of Day 3, it finally happened. Despite my attempts at preventive medication, I woke up with an asthma attack, gasping for air. I think I woke NAH out of a dead sleep by grasping at his arm while choking. It was official, our friend had to go. (Mind you, we weren't letting the cat upstairs or in our bedroom, and I was still having so much difficulty).
Day 4: Just as I resigned myself to the possibility of having to hand her over to our local no-kill animal shelter, I got a phone call from NAH -- "Her name's Delilah." -- Owner found! Yes!
The kicker? They lived four doors down. We'd knocked on their door 5 times over the course of the four days. Never reached them. Put a flier in their door on day 2. Nothing. Trust me when I tell you, this is not a cat who knew what to do outdoors, so she either wandered too far and got lost, or they just didn't care. I love people. Really, I do.
Regardless, Delilah went home, we did a very good thing. I spent the evening before we left for Las Vegas de-catting the entire house (it was very nice to come back from vacation to a spotless home). I know it was stupid, and like I said...I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Interestingly, this seemed to solidify for NAH that we can never get a pet. I still refuse to say NEVER, though I will also never pay the thousands of dollars for the non-allergic cats they are breeding, but that's a story for another post. Have a nice weekend!
Your Allergic Diner,
The Big-Hearted Idiot