My kids, well the 11 year olds anyway, love cats. They have ever since their mom got a cat when they were 6.
After we split she had as many as 5 cats in her house. It absolutely annoyed the shit out of me because the boys would come over covered in cat hair, and sometimes they would smell like cat piss because the cats would piss on their backpacks or even their coats.
I never really said anything, though, because they loved those cats.
The twins have also had seasonal problems with asthma since that age. Normally each year for a week in Spring they would have one horrible, week-long asthma attack. We’d take them to the doctor, get oral steroids, and they would have to do breathing treatments every four hours for that entire week.
Now I had always suspected that the boys were allergic to cats and had suggested to my ex on a couple of occasions that she might think about losing a few of the cats. During our annual asthma visit for my first-born (we’ll call him Baby A since that was his name until he was born) this year, the doctor asked if we’d ever had him allergy tested. We obviously haven’t and he recommended that we did.
Well, about a month and a half ago we had the test done. Two weeks ago, we got the results. He’s allergic to the normal things: mold, dust, and grass. He is allergic to dogs. He is off-the-charts allergic to cats. I don’t recall the unit of measurement they use to chart it, but according to this chart anything over 17 is extremely allergic. Baby A measured at 57.
My ex finally relented and is looking for a home for the cats. Both Baby A and Baby B are devastated. They don’t want to get rid of the cats. The doctor explained that if allergies are controlled and exposure to allergens minimized, 80% of asthma patients have no symptoms and eliminate attacks entirely. The twins don’t like it, but they understand.
Last night, myself and the rest of the family went to a friend’s house for a cook out. They have a cat (an outdoor cat) that occasionally comes inside to eat. She came in last night and Baby A asked if he could pet her. I very obviously said no, because of how allergic he is to them.
I looked back a second later and he was in tears. I felt so shitty. I walked over and hugged him. I couldn’t think of anything reassuring to say so I just held him. After a minute or so, I asked him if holding his little brother would cheer him up, and he said yes.
Even though getting rid of the cats (we got rid of ours a couple of months ago and he cried then, too) is the right thing to do, it’s still tearing me apart to see how much this is hurting him. I was able to finally get him to talk to me about it this morning and he understands, but he’s still having trouble accepting it.
Being a parent is sometimes frustrating, sometimes fun, and other times downright painful. Last night was downright painful.