Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dear Mom:

My boyfriend is allergic to my cats. Every time he comes over he gets sick. What should I do?

Sincerely, Furful

Dear furful: I have a nephew that is allergic to cats. Last week he and his family came over for a visit. My sister had forewarned me-"Remember, my son is allergic. Can we keep the cat away from him?" I promised her that I would vacuum the floor and the furniture; especially the furniture our cat loved to sleep on, and that the cat would be kept in the basement.

When my sister arrived with her children, however, our cat Spooky had managed an unwelcome visit on her favorite TV chair. I was surprised. Spooky usually hid from children.

After showing the cat downstairs and apologizing to my sister for the oversight, telling her son to stay clear of "that" chair, we got down to business-eating dinner. The evening went smoothly enough, and surprisingly, there were no allergy related symptoms from her son.

I was relieved. The last thing I wanted to have happen was for her son to get sick and the family wary about coming to visit us again. Fortunately, my sister had taken precautions as well. When I told her how relieved I was that her son hadn't gotten sick, she said, "Oh, I gave him some allergy medicine before we left." So that was it. She had planned for the worst, and had ended up with the best case scenario.

Though I have no idea how your boyfriend's allergies compare to my nephew's. You might be wise to choose alternate places to get together-making sure when choosing your place that you have done everything you can to make your boyfriends visit as "fur free" as possible. A friend of mine suggested covering the sofa with a recently washed blanket.

Of course hardwood or vinyl floors are best to reduce the furry problem, but if you are living in an apartment or a rental unit this is no option. Fortunately, where your greatest problem's lie, you have the greatest control: fabric upholstered furniture and curtains. Limiting these two items helps, say the experts, as well as limiting your cat to only certain rooms, not including the main living space. Some experts even suggest that if your cat is washed weekly there is a decrease in allergen levels, though I'm sure my own cat would have a scratching fit if I tried that one on her.

Your cats are members of your family. Getting rid of them is neither a valid nor a humane solution in my opinion. But getting rid of the boyfriend? Well, that's an entirely different story.

Good luck!


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