In the beginning… before Chooni and Stumpy

Hello you!

Lets be clear. Kittychat is not all about cats. Yes, you will find reference to them and pictures and clips of their antics that have amused me over the years but that’s not all that this is about. My name is Kitty and I am of the older generation. I have experienced a lot of things in the time I’ve been around and I see nothing wrong with having conversations with people I don’t know about things that I care and have an opinion about? So… that’s what I want to do. I am an ex infection control nurse and teacher. I am married with two children. I love sport and politics and reading and knitting. We have a house in Spain and love to travel but that’s another story. I’m going to start with my cats!

I love cats but for a long time I couldn’t physically stand to be near them because I suffer from allergies brought on by animal dander (dust and hair). If I came into contact with, or was in a room where cats or dogs had been I would begin to sneeze and wheeze and cough. My eyes would stream and I would have to go running for the Piriton. Usually I would avoid going back to where I suffered. Don’t get me wrong. I was brought up in a household that always had cats and dogs but in the main they lived outside so contact with them was limited and also, importantly, fitted carpets and central heating were not the norm so the amount of debris in the air was not so significant. Even now I cannot touch my eyes if I have touched my cats because they start itching and the sclera blisters and hangs out of my eye sockets like bubbles. This is potentially dangerous because of the risk of ulceration so handwashing

is particularly important after touching any animal.

The first cat I remember at home was called Timmy. I don’t remember that much about him other than his demise. He developed rather a large tumour on his head which I was told was the result of syphilis! I guess he put it about a bit, certainly more than the current ‘neutered generation’ of cats tend to do! I live in town and we’re not woken here by the noise of tomcats loving or fighting as was frequently the case when I was growing up. We kept him for a long time, even with the tumour, but he was eventually put to sleep when it began to interfere with his everyday life.

My sister is and has always been ‘cat mad’. Hers was one of the houses I avoided because of the effect the atmosphere in there had on me. I didn’t touch her cats but obviously there was dust in the atmosphere which exacerbated the allergy issue for me and made me miserable. Imagine her surprise in the 1990s when I told her we were now the owners of a cat! More of that particular story later.

In 2002 we bought a house in Spain. An old farmhouse with stone floors and window shutters. During the winter months we had an issue with mice getting in there (wooden doors were a bit rotten with some gaps underneath which the mice took advantage of) and so decided we would get a cat. I rationalised that the cat would spend most of the time outdoors and so exposure would be minimal. It is obviously true what they say…short, frequent exposures to allergens build up your immune system and eventually the problem caused by allergies diminishes or goes away entirely. I now enjoy handling my cats both here and in Spain and the only problem I continue to have is with my eyes. So, I remain cautious when handling them about touching my eyes and fastidious with my hand hygiene.

I wonder how many people have had similar experiences where perhaps changing fitted carpets for laminate or wood flooring or just continued exposure to animals has resulted in reducing allergy problems?

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