Confessions of a Crazy COPD Cat Lady
With a cheery “See ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya,” the Mighty Tiger zoomed through the open door, out of his castle and into the wild jungle beyond. He stealthily (yeah, right) sprinted about 5 feet when he noticed his minions hadn’t turned the sun to exactly 74 degrees as instructed. After a few more feet he noticed a dog. He had expressly forbidden these…creatures. All of a sudden, the little one of his hairless monkey servants named Patrick scooped him up and trudged with him back inside. “It’s about time,” the Mighty Tiger thought. “There’s nothing good out here.”
The Mighty Tiger is also known as my huge orange tabby Jasper.
I adore him, as I adore most cats.
I got my first kitten when I was four and I knew I wanted a cat long before that, so it’s safe to say I’ve loved them all my life.
I remember the day it finally happened. I came home from a friend’s house, walking carefully, clutching my furry prize, grinning from ear to ear. I proffered the poor kitten to my mother and proudly exclaimed, “Look what Gina gave me!” Which Gina, aged 6, had handed over from her cat’s litter without asking either my parents or her parents. I knew I loved, loved, loved my new pet already. And it never occurred to me that maybe my parents wouldn’t be as thrilled as I was… But they let me keep her after carefully explaining the rules on how to care for her.
So that’s how Frisky came to be in our family.
She was grumpy, angry, and hated everyone except me. And I loved her with all my heart. After that, our house was never without at least one cat. My brother and my sister both got their own kittens, and still count furry felines as part of their households. As have my parents in the many – way too many – years since then.
As for Frisky, she lived to a ripe old age of 19 years. She lived by my side from my preschool days through elementary school, high school, and college. I grew up with her. Shortly before she died my fiance, a cat lover himself, got another kitten for me, a black and white fluffy one I named Sylvester. I am very original with pet names. He was the kitty love of my life for another 17 years and with him by my side I went from a college student to a married woman with a son and a career. By the time Sylvester passed, we had three kitties. Shortly after, we got my Mighty Tiger, Jasper.
I had always had cats. I knew I would always have cats.
She told me that all of my allergy tests came back positive, including for cats. She told me that my asthma and chronic lung inflammation was worse with my allergies. She told me that over time my lung function could suffer. She told me she understood it was difficult, but finding them new homes was for the best.
I listened in stunned silence.
And then I ignored her advice.
It was a difficult decision. I don’t put aside doctor’s orders lightly. I thought long and hard about it and I talked to my husband and my son. I talked to my allergists about medications to help and ways to help cut down dander and fur.
And I decided that the joy my cats give me outweighs the bad effects to my health.
I would be miserable without them and who wants to spend the rest of their lives being miserable? Not me. Not in this instance.
My cats don’t give me unconditional love – ha! they’re very demanding – but their antics make me laugh. Combing them calms me. Petting them soothes me. Snuggling together on a comfy chair with a furry, purring kitty does my depression a world of good. These guys give me joy. I love walking into a room knowing there will be a cat there snoozing and probably wanting a scratch behind the ears. And they do show me they love me. Every day.
Joy, love, and serenity are all things my mental health needs…
a bit more than my physical health needs less allergens.
For instance, Jasper cat is sleeping on my chest. He translated “Ow! Crap, you’re heavy! It hurts! Oh, god, it hurts!” as “Come settle down and stay as long as you want.” The Mighty Tiger will not be ignored. And now I’m like “Aww, you’re so cute and warm and purring. Feels so nice.”