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Cat against catallergy?!
2011.08.31.
Even though the title might be shocking at first sight, I needed to call attention of the following topic. First of all, this story is not based on scientific research, neither can be called an article since I do not know about the formalities but tells my personal story.

And who I am? I am Bianka, 21 year old girl allergic to cats and lives happily together with one. But let's see how I got here. My story starts in my childhood.
When I was about 3-4 year old I had my beloved dog, "Johnny", who I shared my bed with and followed everywhere. He only was with us for a couple of months before he got stolen. And after this my life got upside down: my dog was not with us anymore, I missed him, therefore my parents wanted to cheer me up with a new furry friend but I had an allergy test coming up and the results influenced my life up until now. The test showed I am allergic to both cats and dogs. (Back then I had no idea that some dog (like puddle) and cat breeds (e.g. Siberian) are causing less allergic reactions than others, but being honest I do not mind it at all!)
After having the test results, everything got worse. If a furry or feathery animal got close to me, I had an allergic reaction. The only animal that my body tolerated for a while was a little chick, even though our story did not end happily. I was the girl who gave all her heart to a chick that got sick from the overwhelming petting.
My parents had to take me and "Csörike" to a vet, where she got vitamin injections. Despite the treatments, her little body gave up and we had to let her go. From this point on I only had fishes that gave nowhere the same pleasure that a furry friend could.
I remember being in the 8th grade I begged long enough to get a puppy. According to the ownership, "Mimike" was mine (long haired Chihuahua) but was living with my grandmother and I happened to see her less and less because of my studies. I had no idea that even these little visits will have a good influence on my allergy in the future. And little did I know that my grandma will be so grateful having the dog for herself.
During high school I met my boyfriend and he changed my world completely - although I did not realize it back then. He had two cats, "Bendegúz" and "Luca", and I was surprised when I met them for the first time. If you are allergic like me, you can imagine the symptoms I got (e.g. running nose). When I planned to visit, they had to clean the house, especially when I slept over. My boyfriend loves cats and said I can get one also one day. "No way!" I thought, sharing the opinion of both my doctor and my mother that if you are allergic to something, you should not expose yourself to it unless necessary or unavoidable. However visiting my boyfriend frequently, I started getting used to the idea of having a purring thing.

It was not until a year ago that I made up my mind: I needed a cat! It might be connected to the fact that my girlfriend just got a tiny kitten that stole my heart immediately. One morning I told my boyfriend that I am longing to curl up with my own cat... and then I noticed that after 4 years of constant visits, I was able to share a bed with "Bendegúz".



Soon enough I had a new allergy test coming up. I had to wait for the results for 2 long months but it was oh so worth it. My cat allergy decreased and my dog allergy totally disappeared eventhough you cannot grow out allergy. This was all I needed in order to come up with the "getting-used-to" theory. The proof for this theory was that beside the cats and dogs that were present in my daily life, my other allergies did not decrease at all. Unfortunately my mom still did not allow a cat in our house. The reason is simple: all the anti-allergy experts suggest that you avoid the allergy causing environment including animals, foods etc. as much as possible.
Nowadays if you Google the words "allergy" and "having a cat" you get more and more articles, new researches and views about the topic, moreover seeing article titles such as "Preventiving animal allergy by having a cat!".
If you dig deeper into this topic you can even find forum threads talking about cases similar to mine: "I have animal allergy even though I have 3 cats. It might sound silly but I kind of got used to them." Or another story: "I have animal allergy and asthma since my childhood, but always had animals around me. I smuggled home a couple of cats every once in a while, feeding them secretly for weeks and when I got busted I was begging to my parents for keeping them. I had to promise they will not sleep in my bed, but after my parents went to sleep I let them in. Now at the age 25 I have no more dog and feather allergy and have a little allergic response to cats."
Going back to my story, for my university graduation I got a cat finally. It was not any cat, it was an Abyssinian. "Nefi" sleeps with me, lives in my room, I broom her, clean her cat litter, feed her that is I do everything for her without taking any medication. When she scratches me, my skin gets a little irritated but thankfully that is all! I am living the happy life of the cat owners and enjoy saying that "Yes, I also have a cat!". In the near future I would like to have another cat, a friend for "Nefi".



Now you can ask why I wrote this story? If I do not have the situation of sharing my life with 2 cats, maybe even today I would still suffer from allergy. It is obvious that this theory of mine will not work for everybody, but hopefully my story will call people's attention to the problem. You should not give up your dream of having a pet just because you are allergic to them. You have to search for new researches and articles about the topic - it might work for you. My story is dedicated especially to parents to check for new results about the allergies. I am sure my mother wanted the best for me and did what the doctors told her. But I also know how it is too long for a pet and seeing the other kids having them. Now I finally know how it feels having a pet. I wish me and my mom could have visited the other kids who had pets in order to cure my allergy much earlier. Do not misunderstand me, I do not blame my parents just want to get the conclusion. I suggest everyone to consult with their doctors and always have a stack of anti-allergy medication within reach when trying to follow my footsteps. It is important to raise awareness of having pets even despite allergies can teach children and adults so much about themselves and responsibilities. The love we get in return, is not comparable to the amount of stress and work involved fighting the allergy!
I am lucky to have my boyfriend, his 2 cats and my dog. I thank my mother who was kind enough to gift me my "Nefi" and I thank "Nefi" that she makes my days special.

Bianka Simon (21)
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