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I’m Going to Have To Give Up The Cat

pantaloons laying in sink

I recently came to terms that I’m going to have to give up my cat Pantaloons.

My girlfriend is allergic. She’s a good sport when she visits and takes a Benadryl which clears up her symptoms. But how long am I going to make her pop meds to be comfortable?

We’re only six months into our relationship. Neither of us has gone ring shopping or started practicing the Viennese waltz for our first dance. This partnership is healthy and progressing at a normal clip. We both have our own homes and see each other a few times a week. That’s plenty.

This is the healthiest relationship I’ve experienced. Part of it is choosing the most compatible woman for my craziness. The other part is all the work I’ve done to minimize my craziness. While we just crossed the half-year mark in the relationship, I just passed the five-year relationship mark with my therapist. I work on stuff.

My cat is important to my well-being. She’s coming up on six years and has been a loving companion. When I arrive home from work she runs over and brushes up against my leg. Pantaloons is affectionate without being needy.

She’s also in love with the dog.

You already know that I bring my dog to work in a backpack that I take on the subway. After greeting me she rushes over to the backpack and waits for it to be unzipped. The dog springs free and the cat follows her and starts to rub her head against the dog’s body. They sleep together, too. Pantaloons is actually much bigger than Meepers the chihuahua. The often curl up together next to my body while we all pass out. I’ve noticed that their sleep cycles are synced – within seven minutes of falling asleep (I’ve timed this) they start dreaming simultaneously and have paw, nose, and eye twitches. It’s wild to see them shaking together.

There’s a ritual that happens every night before we drift off. The dog, since she’s the alpha, walks over to Pantaloons and extends her neck in front of the cat’s face. The dog is then groomed, first with the neck, then moving down to her shoulders and back, by the cat’s tongue. She licks the dog for five minutes. Since cats have that sandpaper tongue thing, I imagine the dog likes the sensation. Pantaloons is purring wildly during the entire cleaning.

Now, many cats are stinkers. We’ve all met some. Your grandmother’s, for example. Standoffish and stoic, these unholy terrors bite and scratch anyone who dares come near. For these felines, drowning them in a river would not be unjust. So, it’s not like I’m a de facto cat lover.

But mine is solid. Sure she spees on anything I leave on the floor, and I don’t trust her not to soil the bedspread in my second bedroom, but other than the urination thing, she’s great.

The cat also loves my girlfriend, Beth. Even though Beth cannot touch her due to allergies, Pantaloons is crazy for her. She constantly brushes up against her while sitting on the couch and tries to sit in Beth’s lap. The cat never even sits in my lap, for chrissakes. Also, when we sleep Beth will wake up with Pantaloons perched atop her belly, purring loudly.

The reality is, though, that you can’t marry a broad who is allergic to cats and have a cat. It’s unfair.

Last week I started to come out of the denial that we would all live together. I’m sure if Beth and I were to take the next step it would be at least a year away. That means I have some good time left with Pantaloons. It’s sad to look at her and realize that she won’t be with me forever. I know this horrible inevitability that she doesn’t.

Once it happens I’ll be sad and then get over it with time. Loss has a predictable grief cycle. However, I’m wondering if now isn’t the hardest part. To stay with the discomfort of a future loss is not easy for me. There’s no solution for this pain except to celebrate the cat as often as I can.

Now, if you excuse me I have to go beat the shit out of her for missing the litter box. AGAIN.

pantaloons laying in sink

Taken this morning. I was naked at the time. Naked, people!

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Comments 58

  1. Angelique

    As much as I would like to say a lot of things I will hold my tongue and just say that I am glad that you aren’t rushing into getting rid of Pantaloons. A lot can happen in a year and that doesn’t necessarily mean a break up. Also, I am sad for Pantaloons :(

    1. Katy Bug

      I’m sorry, but I agree with Fadra, here. You could potentially find another home for Pantaloons where she may be as happy as she is now, but I feel like you and your girlfriend should exhaust all possible solutions before getting rid of P. My brother-in-law is allergic, but Claritin helps him a lot with my sister’s cats. While I can’t blame you for not wanting to force your girlfriend to medicate herself whenever she visits, it’s not like the cat is being hateful to her or anything. Chat with your girlfriend about it. See if you can compromise somehow. A pet is a commitment and you really ought to at least try some air purifiers.

      Allergies are kind of funny, too. Sometimes they fade. Regular workouts can help alleviate them to a point, as well. And, honestly, a lot can happen in a year. I hope everything goes smoothly and fantastically with your relationship, but it seems that you’re making this decision a bit prematurely.

      As for P peeing (or P-ing… couldn’t resist) everywhere, have you tried to figure out what might make her act out that way? If you haven’t had her spayed, that needs to be done. You may need to clean her litterbox more often, too, or move it. Some cats dislike having their box near central air systems and other stuff that makes noise. Try asking your vet about P’s peeing habits. You can get something called Feliway to help P chill out. It mimics cats’ “facial pheromones.” Like, you know how cats rub their faces on stuff? They do it because they have special scent glands around their faces that give off a “this place is safe” smell.
      Katy Bug recently posted…Oh, Yarn. You Deceptive Devil.

  2. Annie

    I’m glad I’m not the only one against giving Pantaloons up. Pets are family members too, and all due respect to your girlfriend who may or *may not* become your live-in girlfriend/wife: she CAN (continue to) deal with it. How would she like to get rid of a fam member b/c you’re allergic? Nuh-uh.

    Get a kick-ass air purifier (or two+), research some natural allergy relievers, etc. but P.’s already an important part of your and M’s life, so it wouldn’t be fair!

    Love does conquer all. She doesn’t want you resenting her for having gotten rid of P. anyways so stay put and keep the cat.
    Annie recently posted…I Guess We Can’t Be Friends Then… And That’s OK!

  3. Kristina

    I know you didn’t ask, but my two cents — keep Pantaloons! Adopting an animal is not just for your benefit, but also for theirs. She loves you, loves your dog, and has a routine and a life she enjoys. You clearly love Pantaloons, too. If you and your girlfriend end up moving in together, there are usually long-term ways to handle allergies. And if your relationship is solid, she probably wouldn’t want you to give up your “loving companion” who is “important to [your] well-being” anyway.

    On another note — miss your regular posts, but glad you’re happy!

  4. pam

    I can really relate to this. I had a cat once that meant so much to me I think of her every day still. It was my sister’s originally. She couldn’t keep her at her apartment so I was lucky to get her. Maybe, if you do need to give up your cat, a friend can take her so you can still see her. My sister always enjoyed a visit

  5. Shae

    Please don’t! Allergy shot, kennel, the relationship between the cat and dog? The fact that you have written about it seems like you have some doubts…..?? I kinda agree with Fadra.

  6. Kristi

    Hey, I used to have five cats (just enjoy that in your head – I’ve heard em all). I had a roommate that was allergic, and had the same trouble. I found a vet that was able to make a medication that I put in the cats’ food each day that killed off whatever he was allergic to. My understanding is that it’s not the dander that we’re allergic to, but to an ingredient in the saliva or something fancy that I may not even remember right now. But, in short, google, or call a couple vets. Pantaloons may not need to leave you yet.

  7. Sarah (est. 1975)

    “They sleep together, too. Pantaloons is actually much bigger than Meepers the chihuahua. The often curl up together next to my body while we all pass out. I’ve noticed that their sleep cycles are synced – within seven minutes of falling asleep (I’ve timed this) they start dreaming simultaneously and have paw, nose, and eye twitches. It’s wild to see them shaking together.”

    PICS OR GTFO.

  8. Carmen

    If you decide to keep the cat, there’s hope. I am allergic to dogs, and I very recently brought two….yes two(2)….new little puppies into my life.

    The allergies were bad at first. I keep the dogs out of the bedroom. They are restricted to certain parts of the house as my allergies get better.

    My allergies have significantly reduced over the last 3 months where I don’t have to take any meds. I still have a stuffy nose which is progressively getting better. My guess is in a few more months I won’t even notice any symptoms at all.

    If you don’t keep her, then you might have to replace the cat with another dog, because Little Miss Meepers may not survive the loss, so I’ve been told by my brother who almost lost a dog to grief. He felt compelled to get another dog, and the grieving dog immediately got better.

  9. Sandra

    This is just ridiculous. Give up a pet who is an integral part of the family? Have you considered the trauma she and the dog who is so fond of her will face? I’ve been in a relationship for over two years now and had my canine companion around for eight. If I were put in a spot – having to choose – there’d be no contest. The boyfriend goes. Stop being a fathead and get Beth (who can’t be THAT nice a person if she’s okay with a family member being booted out of house and home on her account) some anti-allergens for Chrissakes!

  10. Casey

    Im pretty allergic to cats and dogs, but I love both and I dont mind popping allergy pills. Have you even broached this subject with Beth?? She probably doesnt WANT you to get rid of the cat! Properly cleaning, medication, and acclimation will help her allergies (I grew up with cats and didnt even notice I was allergic until after I moved out- I acclimated to them).

  11. avra

    Please Please do not give away your cat! Allergies can be dealt with. Your cat is part of your family. II can’t believe your girlfriend would go along with this. Doesn’t seem like anyone could.
    Please rethink.

  12. Kim

    Keep your cat. Ditch the woman. The woman has less chance of being euthanized if she doesn’t find somewhere else to go.

  13. Christine

    Pets are not temporary fixtures in our lives.. they are forever or at least the span of their lives… don’t give up the cat! buy your girlfriend Costco sized allergy medicine…

  14. Diana

    The cat was there first. You and the dog are the cat’s family, don’t get rid of her. When I married my hubs he came with 2 kids, 2 dogs, and a cat. I’m allergic to animals, but thanks to allergy meds, a great air purifier, and constant exposure to them, it got so much better. Point is, if girlfriend loves you, she’ll accept you and your furry kids. You’re welcome. Lol

  15. Kat

    First of all, you and Beth are not at the “moving in” stage yet so no real decision has to be made right now. In the meantime, talk to your vet and have Beth speak to her doctor. Perhaps there are solutions that will enable you to keep your cat without your girlfriend having to be drugged up all the time. If she cares about you and your relationship, she’ll be willing to work with you to find a good solution.
    Kat recently posted…Old School Blogging – March Edition

  16. Patricia

    I have to agree with the comments that pets are family members, too. I have a mild allergy to cats, yet I’ve had cats my entire life. I couldn’t imagine not having one around. In fact, between my boyfriend and me, we have 5 right now. There are ways to deal with the allergy – extra cleaning is key, but a good allergy med helps, too.

    Also, the behavior issue with your cat urinating where it shouldn’t can often be a sign of a urinary tract or bladder infection. It’s their only way of “showing” you that something is wrong. If it’s not a health problem, then more than likely it’s a dominance issue, perhaps, an issue having to do with the girlfriend. Cats are finicky like that, especially if they “sense” a person is uncomfortable with them. Cats are notorious for finding that one person in the room who dislikes cats to claim dominance over them. One of the reasons I adore them! LOL

  17. Yvonne Croke I

    I have to say I agree with most of thee above comments. I am animal lover and owner of horses and I’m allergic to horses and have hayfever but hey you suck it and it on with it.I also wonder what are your thoughts on having children,if they have problems will you be moving them on too??

  18. Rebecca

    Please keep the cat. Pantaloons is a family member. Things really do have a way of working out and there’s lots you, your girlfriend, etc. can do. Ditch the Benadryl and talk to both a doctor and a vet. Zyrtec at night might be a much better choice, anyway. But in the meantime, love, be loved and enjoy your life!

  19. Jenny E

    I too, wouldn’t get rid of my kitty unless there were absolutely NO OTHER CHOICE. My boyfriend is allergic to him too, but he really loves the kitty and wouldn’t let me give him away even if I wanted to. The cat sits on his lap and purrs and gives him mental healing, lowers his blood pressure and brings love and joy. Those things are more important than open sinuses. When we move in together he says that he’ll probalby look into getting allergy shots–the medications mess with him. For now he’s good with the minor suffering for the kitties sake. I love that man, and my cat!

  20. Jennifer

    Don’t get rid of her! She just needs something from you’ not sure what but you can figure it out!

  21. Jess

    As someone who has been in animal rescue for a long time I can tell you that rehoming a cat is not easy. Whatever you do, do not take her to a shelter. Her chances of getting out alive are 1 in 10 or less. Cats just don’t get adopted. Especially cats with unreliable bathroom habits. It’s the sad truth.

    As you said, you have a lot of time left with Pantaloons which gives you time to start looking for a home for her now because it might take a year or longer to find a home for her. Ask family first, friends second. If that fails ask a rescue group to help you rehome her safely while you foster her. Never give a pet away for free (dog fighters are looking for bait, bunchers are collecting animals for medical experiments and then there are some just plain evil people out there). If you go through with rehoming Pantaloons there are ways to do it safely and responsibly.

    A few people have mentioned that allergies can fade. I know some people who are no longer allergic to their own cats with the help of allergy shots or simply time living with the cats. In the immediate present you can help your girlfriend by not allowing Pantaloons to sleep in the bed. Try giving her her own bed in the bedroom. Pantaloons, not the girlfriend. Cats are very trainable! It might also help your girlfriend to have Pantaloons groomed on a regular basis. Not shaved, that will make allergies worse, but groomed to remove dead fur and skin.

    I truly hope you do not rehome Pantaloons. I can’t find homes for perfect cats and dogs that sit in rescue for months and years. Heck, I couldn’t even find a home for a dog that was trained to be a service animal. Sometimes I find a foster home but can’t find a rescue group to take the animal on and he or she is killed in the shelter. In the span of your lifetime together with your girlfriend, Pantaloons lifetime is a blip on the screen. A pet is family and is a lifetime commitment. I was extremely lucky to find someone who understands this and puts up with my crazy, behaviorally challenged pack of dogs. He’s counting down the 8 years or so until they have all passed on. IF he can hang on that long.
    Jess recently posted…Peter Pan Figured It Out And So Have I

  22. maurnas

    Ha! You have a dog named Meepers? My brother nicknamed my sister’s cat Meepers. And I am sorry you are going to have to get rid of your kitty.

  23. Goosebug

    Sorry, but the wench (as wonderful as I’m sure she is) be damned–the cat would stay!

    I relocated 2000+ miles away this past summer with “the love of my life.” We had been together for 3+ years at that point. I was forced to give up my Brit when we moved (thankfully, my son adopted him with his father’s blessing, so I know he’s being cared for and then some). So-called love turned into a yuppie douchebag twat after our relocation (thank you, California!), and our relationship ended the day after we hit 4 years.

    Sh*t happens. People leave. Cats’ raspy sandpaper tongues are there for you forever.

  24. Mrs Fringe

    What a rough spot for you to be in. I’m glad you’re taking time before moving to rehome Pantaloons. I am most definitely not a cat lover, but at one time I had a cat, and I loved him. I was “lucky,” he died (of old age) not long after my 2nd child was born–if he hadn’t, I would have known by the time my son was 1 that the cat needed to be rehomed, because of severe allergies.

  25. jen

    Don’t get rid of the cat.. There are far too many in shelters. Have your girlfriend go to the doctor for something better for allergies. Talk to your vet about what you can do to reduce the car dander. There has to middle ground. The cat needs to stay.

  26. Amy

    I used to have a kitty who would sit like that in the sink whenever I would take a shower. I freeing loved that cat. I had her for over two years until someone stole her. I was devastated. I can’t imagine having to give her up after six years. Even if she does pee on everything

  27. Andrea

    Ya gotta really like a person who names their pet-people Meepers and Pantaloons…really gotta like ‘em. Hate to say it – but will anyway. If you have to give up a pet to keep a relationship – maybe it’s the relationship that needs rethinking. After all, there are allergy shots and Aerius – one pill a day, and you’ll never know you’re allergic. Plus, it’s good for the immune system to get used to things it thinks it doesn’t like. From a quilter’s perspective only.

  28. Tina Truelove

    I’ve been reading through some of your stories. You have had me laughing and crying and laughing and crying . . . and so on. You are hilarious and honestly, I can’t wait to see what happens to you next.

    Now, as far as this girlfriend/cat situation . . . I used to think people could just deal with their allergies and get over it . . . then I developed them. I’m miserable and meds don’t help. I’m also a cat-lover so I don’t think I could give up my cat.

    My opinion: I don’t know the heck you should do. Best wishes to you both – and the cat – and the dog.
    Tina Truelove recently posted…Free Printable Daily Schedule from “Next Comes L.”

  29. Meow Meow Kittie

    I’m glad I was led to your blog, it was great. But gosh darned it, you just can’t get rid of the cat!!!! I’m allergic to cats and dogs (very) and have had both all of my life. It really is doable!

    When you make a commitment to a pet, it’s for good, in my opinion. Animals are so dependent on us!

    Anyway, I hope everything works out in a way that benefits everyone.

  30. Shelley

    I have asthma

    I have a long hair (Himilayan) cat named Gizmo (don’t hold me to that – I didn’t name him)

    I didn’t make the choice to bring a cat into our household – our daughter did (without the required family chat) but I fell in love with him at the get go. And now, he’s ‘ours’ because we aren’t reliant on a Landlord decision as to pets or no pets
    .
    I have to take medication twice a day, every day. I do because we consciously made the decision to accept this cat into our lives and I figure that is a decision for life. (That’s not always possible – I’ll grant you that, but that’s a story for another day).

    So, all I’m saying is I think you are on the right track to thoroughly examine any decision to find another (good, amazing, loving) home for Pantaloons. You guys have bonded – there is mutual happiness in your relationship. That is a good thing. I think your girlfriend would understand that.

    In the meantime – check with a vet as to how you can reduce cat dander. Vacuum often including anywhere the cat sleeps and of course on furniture. (We have a little robotic vacuum cleaner that is a big help). Get rid of rugs if you can. It is possible that your girlfriend will build up some resistance to the allergens – I know my brother has. That’s a positive thought ;o) And if I’m repeating anything here, my apologies. I didn’t read all 45 comments :-D

  31. Mel Maguire

    As one who has a cat and lives with a roommate (and best friend) along with a foster daughter who both have animals, I understand what some are saying here – that an animal shouldn’t be seen as disposable. However, I also did wildlife rescue at home when I was a kid. For a long time my family ran the local wildlife rescue. I know how important human relationships are and if you’ve found the right woman, maybe giving up Pantaloons is the only option. I would just hope that you find a suitable home for her where she’ll be loved and cared for. If you were in Phoenix I’d say I’d totally take her…
    Mel Maguire recently posted…Excuses, Excuses

  32. violafury

    I’m honestly disappointed in you, D.J. You have worked hard and admit lots of things about your life that frankly, are hard for anyone to admit, but that’s what good writers do. But, to even entertain the thought of getting rid of a cat you’ve had for six years over a girlfriend you’ve had for six months sounds callow indeed. As one of your other readers pointed out, it is not so easy to re-home a cat. One of the reasons I live where I live, in da ‘hood is a cat adopted me and my better 2/3s. I live in a very dangerous, high crime area and am perfectly capable of taking care of myself; I recently held off two muggers until they realized it wasn’t worth it and left me alone.

    The idea of me and mine pulling up stakes and moving is preposterous because Mama wouldn’t adapt AT ALL. When JC had a heart attack, I attempted to make her a totally indoor cat; she’s litter box trained and I thought it would be easy. I couldn’t be more wrong. She became depressed and wilted and it broke my heart to see what I had done to such a lovely creature. Sure, I fear for her when she’s outside, but that is her nature, and this is her home. She comes in to use her little box, eat some kitty food and some kitty treats, hang out with the old crocks and then she’s out playing Wild Mountain Cat. I cannot take that away from her.

    If you take Pantaloons out of her environment and take her away from her best friend, she will wilt and may never recover. Do you really want that on your head? Is your girlfriend that unfeeling, that she would let you do such a thing? If so, lose her, ASAP. I married someone like her and I regret it to this day. I will NEVER under any circumstances let another person override my value system. Do the right thing and keep Pantaloons. If Beth cannot adjust, so be it. The Vet does have things that can quell the allergens in Pantaloons saliva and skin. Think about it. You’re a good man; now, do the right thing! Mary xoxo
    violafury recently posted…#ROW80 1ST QTR 2014 – POST 2 – MOTHER’S DAY

  33. Keesha

    Ok, so I am going to sound like the bad guy (girl) here but Ms. Kitty has to go if it’s going to work with the lady friend. My hubby is allergic and we had the cutest little kitty (Penny) but Penny caused the hubby to have sneezing attacks and his eyes to swell up and what not…let me tell you, not sexy at all! Keep the sexy in your relationship! That is all. :)
    Keesha recently posted…Food: Cilantro Lime Pork Burgers & Mustard Green Salad

  34. Lynn

    Keep the cat!!! Not only will you be heartbroken, but your dog will be. The animals did nothing wrong to deserve being punished.
    I was allergic to cats all through childhood and my teens, but one day my brother brought one home to keep. After a month or so, my body started to adapt. Vacuum often, keep the bedroom door closed off to the pets, and keep the cat groomed.

  35. NeoMe

    Puleez! My husband is allergic to cats, from day one, we’ve been together & married now for 19 years this September…and we are happy & proud owners of 4 strictly indoors cats. My husband takes a Claritin tablet everyday as part of his daily vitamins & supplements. Like many have already said before, the cat was there before, this girlfriend, not yet earned the title of being “long-term,” might not be around much longer…who knows, but the cat…that’s your friend & responsibility. I cannot believe any therapist would agree for a patient to get rid of a pet for a newly/6 month relationship! *gasp*

  36. Julie

    you get one chance in life to make it right the cat and the dog even sleep together and are attuned to one another. If lAdyfriend loves you when it comes time then all 4 of you should be in the wedding to the tune of the wedding march played out in meows like the little friskies commercial. Has the dog started therapy with you to cope with the anti family ideas you are entertaining. Wow.
    Julie recently posted…Being mental is an interesting ride through life…I’m Blessed

  37. Mary Schneider

    I don’t know if your aware of this but it’s not the fur or dander on cats that cause allergies but the saliva the cats groom themselves with, they suggest you wipe the cat fur dog to eliminate this.So if it’s the saliva will Miss Meepers have to go too? Will Miss Meepers survive the separation? Can you live with this?

  38. She

    I’m the odd man out, I say keep the girlfriend. I would recommend you try some of the great things suggested above & if they don’t work, find the cat a great home. Good Luck :)

  39. Zaida

    ARUGH! I just discovered your blog (thanks for the twitter follow, sorry I don’t tweet much!!) and reading this post breaks my heart. I’m a huge animal lover and hate to hear when someone decides to get rid of a pet because it is no longer convenient. Not sure if you still have Pantaloons (who sounds awesome and has a kick ass name) but FYI, I’ve got 2 dogs and 3 cats and I’m allergic. I’m also allergic to nonsense like trees and dust mites. Regardless, I could never fathom getting rid of my pets! Now the dust mites? That’s a different story…

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