OK, I’ve been wanting to write something on this subject for a while, and I just hadn’t gotten around to it. Last night, I was once again forced to leave a really nice party early, and it annoyed me enough to finally do this. I should add, though, that this is in no way meant to be an attack on pet owners, simply an attempt at greater understanding.
1. Everybody is different. Every animal is different. Every day is different. Just because I could hang out at Dick’s house yesterday without a problem doesn’t mean I can hang out at Jane’s house today without a problem.
2. Just because your sister’s boyfriend—who has REALLY bad allergies—didn’t mind Captain Mittens doesn’t mean I’ll be OK.
3. When I get to your house, I’m drugged. I try to get drugged up at least an hour before I arrive. I’m not having a bad time, I’m simply stoned.
4. Sometimes, I can’t stay long at all. No really, it was a lovely party, but my throat is closing, and I should be on my way.
5. When I leave your house, I have to strip off everything I’m wearing, put it in the laundry and take a long shower. I don’t mind, but just understand that my night is not over when I leave your place, so I may be leaving early.
6. I appreciate that you put the cat in the bedroom and vacuumed before I got here; it does help. However, unless you have a really nice vacuum with a microscopic filter, vacuumed all the carpet, rugs, upholstery and linens, wiped down the walls and ceiling, mopped the floors and sealed the cat in a completely isolated room, it’s no guarantee that I won’t still be breaking out in hives in 3 minutes. Pet dander is like radiation: removing the source doesn’t eliminate the danger.
7. You may have accepted the fact that everything you eat and drink will have hair in it. I haven’t. Please keep that in mind when you toss the fur-and-slobber-covered Frisbee over the buffet line. Seriously, that happened once.
8. I’m not criticizing your housekeeping, really, I’m not. I’ve been in homes that were meticulously cleaned daily and still had horrible allergy attacks. I’ve been in homes that were disgusting to behold with giant balls of fur in every corner and been fine. It’s not you, it’s me.
9. Sometimes, I may be feeling OK, but I just don’t feel comfortable blowing my nose every 2 minutes at your house. Call me old-fashioned, but at some point, I think it’s better manners for me to simply go home than to subject you to a never-ending orchestra of sinus gurgling.
10. No, your cat is not different. Just like every parent believes their child is above average, every cat owner I’ve ever met believes their cat is somehow an exception to everything. “Señor Furrypants isn’t like other cats, he has his own personality and everything. I just know you’ll love him!” It’s not a question of whether or not I LIKE your cat (dog, parakeet, weasel, marmot, koala), it’s a question of whether or not the makeup of his saliva reacts badly with my immune system.
BONUS: A few facts about allergies:
• There is no relationship between the pet’s hair length and allergen production.
• There is also no such thing as a non-allergenic breed.
• Allergens can be brought into places where a pet has never been on the hair and clothing of pet owners.
• Unless special steps are taken, pet dander can remain in a home for up to six months after the pet has been removed.
Long story short, don’t take it personally, but if you have a pet, I may not ever be able to hang out at your place for more than a few minutes. I’m not alone; roughly 10% of the population is allergic to animals to some degree. And I don’t have it as bad as some people.