Miss Sugar Writes: Allergen-free? No, Not Me!

Miss Sugar's face and paws as she continues a deep sleep

Greetings my little coat shedders! Thank you for returning to my cozy corner of the blogosphere. I’m happily curled up on what Mother calls the “cat barrier” to the guest bed. The silly woman doesn’t realize that this fleece throw is one of my favourite things! What’s meant to keep the bed free from my dander is making me as happy as can be!

Speaking of dander, fur, stray whiskers and such, I have a family secret to share with you. Mother is allergic to cats. It’s true! She makes this little joke whenever a medical professional asks if she has allergies. They mean medication, of course. But she replies, “Only dust and cats. You’re not planning to do a cat scan today, are you?” Oh nyuk nyuk. What’s the female equivalent of the Dad Joke? That’s my Maw.

Anyway, she hasn’t let her sneezing and stuffiness stop her from welcoming me (and my late pal Spice) into her life. She’s the hands-on type, too. I can always count on her for a good brushing that makes me writhe and purr with delight. But she washes her hands often and when it gets bad, she pops a Claritin. She has never let this allergy come between us. She says she’d rather have runny eyes than miss out on a forehead-bump from me. Now, that’s love!

Hairs The Thing

Perhaps you’re wondering why she didn’t simply opt for the somewhat creepy little animal above: the Sphynx cat. Surely without fur it has no dander and must be hypo-allergenic? Ah my friends, that’s a fallacy. There is no such thing as a non-allergenic cat. It doesn’t exist. And Mother spooks easily so inviting one of these translucent little aliens into her home wasn’t an option.

Allergies from cats are caused by a protein called Fel d 1 found in our saliva and oil glands. Even a hairless cat produces this protein. In fact, if you brought one of those Sphynx creatures into your family, you’d have to bathe it often and come in direct contact with Fel d 1. There’s no easy solution to the sneezies. Just because a cat has long hair doesn’t make it more likely to ruffle up someone’s allergies, either. That’s just another kitty-cat myth.

Scientists are working on all sorts of possibilities to eliminate this protein. They might be able to suppress it by feeding us a special cat food. Maybe they can eliminate the gene from the broader gene pool with some genetic manipulation. And they’re exploring the possibility of developing a vaccine. Oh, I can just hear the anti-vax reaction to that one! “First they came for us, then our children…then our CATS!” I promise you that if a vaccine would help the woman who cleans my litter box, I’d roll up my arm hair and take the shot!

Here, Have a Tissue

But until then, go easy on those who suffer in our presence. Mother’s allergy is only medium-strong. And not everyone reacts the same. So, if someone says they suffer in the presence of a cat, believe them. If they say you must get rid of the cat for them, tell them to take a hike to the drug store and choose from a wide variety of antihistamines. And don’t forget the points card!

Science is awfully busy these days, isn’t it? What with space travel, and vaccines, and making people-food that looks like meat but doesn’t contain meat. One day, I suppose it will get around to making us cats even easier to live with for the rest of the population. I for one welcome my scientific overlords! Until I grow opposable thumbs, what choice do I have?

Dispelling myths and spreading love and joy. That’s what I’m about my little pantleg grabbers! Until next time, I remain your friend,

Miss Sugar

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