Real ones. Live ones. With fur and everything.
Consider this blog entry a public service announcement.
I grew up with cats. First we had Tiger. Huge, orange and gorgeous. He wasn’t much of a lap-sitter, but he was super smart and would do things like knock on the door when he wanted to come in and wait outside school every day to walk me home from kindergarten.
After Tiger died, we got Mischief. Sweet as can be and dumb, dumb, dumb. Mischief was my cat. He loved me more than he loved anyone else in the world and I loved him right back. I still regret not taxidermying him when he died so he could be sitting next to me right now as I write this blog entry.
When my husband (who prefers anonymity, so I refer to him by his scrambled letter name, iNck) and I decided to get married, I knew I was making a big sacrifice. Not the personal freedom. Not the immaculate living conditions I crave (iNck is just a couple of psychological wrong turns away from being featured on “Hoarders.” He would argue that amassing stuff and leaving it everywhere is an expression of artistic temperament. I would argue—sorry, TMI?) No, the sacrifice I made was living with cats. Because iNck is allergic to them.
Not sniffy nose, leaky eyes allergic. Full on closed throat, hand me that Epipen allergic. I understood I could either have iNck or a cat, but not both. I picked iNck (his breath is better).
Twenty years passed, and then, all of a sudden, I discovered Siberians.
Not the people—I’ve known about them since my sister told me I should get the hell out of our house in Jersey and go live in Siberia, alone and naked, with KGB officers watching me through little cameras they installed in both rooms of my cinderblock apartment (we’ve since made up). No, I’m talking about the cats.
Spoiler alert: I’m about to talk quasi-science.
You see, people with cat allergies are actually allergic to particular proteins in cats. So when someone says it’s the dander or the fur or the saliva they’re allergic to, they’re both right and wrong. What they’re allergic to is a protein (or proteins, but we’ll get to that in a second) that exists in every cell of a cat’s body. And the cat protein that most people are allergic to is called Fel d 1.
Siberian cats have naturally low levels of Fel d 1!
Now, there’s no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat. Siberians don’t have no Fel d 1, they have low Fel d 1. And often it’s low enough that allergic people can tolerate them. Cats have other proteins that make people allergic, but Fel d 1 is the most common one. In general, the more allergic you are, the higher the likelihood that you’ll react to one of the other proteins. In an average Siberian litter, 50% of cats will be born with low levels. If you breed for low levels (and some breeders do), you can get that number to 75%.
But enough about science. How’s this for a happy ending:
Meet Ember and Magnolia.
They’re nice, normal, friendly, cats (obviously, they’re much more than that but I’m trying not to sound like a psycho cat lady) who live in with us in our apartment and sleep in our bed. Best of all, after an initial few weeks of mild runny nose type stuff, iNck has no allergy symptoms whatsoever.
See? Miracles do happen!
P.S. Actually, the fact that my allergic husband is able to live with two cats has nothing to do with miracles or my magic powers. It’s pure science.