I have allergies. Thankfully, they are not the severe kinds that make people have to walk around with an EpiPen® (epinephrine injection). Some of my allergies are seasonal and haven’t required much attention by way of taking antihistamines or other remedies for many years. Others are along the lines of sensitivities to foods (e.g. dairy) and the environmental kinds that one can’t escape, such as dust and mold. I also have a couple of odd ones that don’t merit discussion because they are so out in left field. However, there is one allergy that fits perfectly with the image that popped into my mind for the Day 16 prompt: Fat.
I’m allergic to cats. The hairier and the more they shed the worse I react to them. I may sneeze, cough, become itchy from the top of my head down the length of my body, and I have, on occasion, gotten red very-raised hives on different parts of my skin. All of these symptoms can arise without direct contact with a cat. Luckily, taking antihistamines – usually ahead of visiting the home of people who have cats – is helpful with coping. Luckier still, although I’m asthmatic, I can’t recall ever experiencing severe issues with my breathing because of my proximity to cats.
The incredible thing about being allergic to cats is that they ALWAYS seem to know who is. It’s as if they have an internal radar that helps them to hone in on people who are allergic to them. In my case, I’ve had a broad range of experiences that confirm this theory. First, there’s what comes across as a simple friendly behaviour cats engage in to say hello to the new person in the room: purring and rubbing themselves against, around, and through your legs with their entire bodies starting with the tip of their whiskers to the end of their tails. I’ve been told this is just their way of letting you know you’re liked, but I suspect it’s a way of collecting intelligence then marking you for further action(s).
Those further actions may include but may not be limited to sniffing parts of your body, usually exposed parts like feet and hands. There are the frequent strolls-by that involve more, sometimes extended, contact between their bodies and the bodies of the allergy-inflicted. The main goal of this and other contacts being maximizing the transfer of their allergy aggravating hair and dander. However, for me the ultimate action that cats take against the allergy-inflicted is the “I’m-going-to-make-your-body-my-bed-by-stomping-all-over-you-until-you’re-as-soft-as-I-can-make-you” dance.
What this entails is a cat, either stealthy or in one pouncing motion, finding its way to your lap. The most memorable of these stompings came under the feet of a rather large, hairy, old, fat, orange cat. This cat landed on my lap then unceremoniously raised its hind end and tail and started moving in a tight circle on my lap. Each turn caused more hair to fall off its body to my clothes, yet all I could do was sit there until it found the exact position in which it wished to plant itself to take a nap. The length of that nap seemed eternal and I can still picture that fat mound of orange hair rising and falling as it breathed in and out.
When the cat had slept satisfactorily, it slowly stretched its body then lowered itself to the floor and walked away without the slightest hint of a thank you or an apology for lowering my allergic defenses. This action and others like it is why I believe that cats can sense when someone is allergic to them, and no one can ever convince me otherwise.