The boy has been dealing with some asthma-like symptoms for a while now. He's on an inhaler and has been visiting the pediatric asthma clinic since spring.
|In the ER when his breathing troubles began in earnest.|
The specialist felt his asthma symptoms were related to prolonged exposure to an allergen, so they set up an appointment for an allergy test. He just had that test last week.
The doctor asked the usual questions. Any pets? Two cats, yes, but we've had them since before he was born. What do you and your husband do? He's an electrical engineer, and I'm home with the kids. Does he have trouble breathing after physical activities? No, never. Do his allergies seem to be tied to a particular time of year? Not really, no.
And so on.
Then came the test, which was very quick and simple. Ten minutes of waiting - no scratching! - and a physical exam, then the results.
"I'm afraid no one is going to like this news." I couldn't think of what she could possibly mean. She continued. "This dot here? The only one with a reaction? That was the cat dot."
Our cats? We've had those cats for as long as we've had the boy. And I mean that quite literally - we got the cats the same week we got pregnant with him. Apparently, though, these allergies commonly develop around 4-6 years old. Who knew?
The boy is heartbroken. He cried that entire day, sitting on the floor with the cat in his lap. Nothing hurts a mother's own heart like seeing her baby in pain.
|Cat pillow, 2011|
Although he was still holding onto the hope that he could convince us to keep the cats, he was ever-so-slightly comforted by the thought of them going to a home where he would still be able to visit them sometimes. He had particularly hoped his Oma could take them, since she already has a cat, but she was already looking forward to a cat-free home and was unwilling to take on two more. We've asked cat-friendly friends, posted on Facebook, pleaded in local email lists, contacted residential care facilities in the lower mainland, all to no avail - after all, how many people are interested in taking two cats? It's been a heartbreaking and discouraging process, and as each day goes by, the cats' prospects look increasingly bleak.
Simon is our outgoing black-and-white cat who takes an immediate liking to everyone he meets. He loves to be stroked, snuggled, and have his tummy rubbed. He enjoys spending his nights cuddling with the boy in his bed.
Lucy is our more reserved white cat who prefers a quieter show of affection, making her an excellent lap cat for those who just want some company. She loves a cozy warm fireplace to curl up in front of.
Both cats are friendly and gentle with no displays of aggression, having patiently tolerated the fur-yanking stage of five different babies without so much as a warning hiss. They were adopted as a pair when they were kittens and often spend time grooming or sleeping next to each other; it hurts our hearts even more to think of them being separated. These are lovely cats who just need a new home to call their own, and it is so frustrating to me that we can't find a single family or care facility willing to welcome them into their home.
When we moved out here, the husband and I briefly talked about giving away the cats so we didn't have to bring them halfway across the country. The boy, only two at the time, overheard us. "But they're my friends!", he passionately protested. That ended the conversation right there; how could we give away his friends? And you know, I have complained about these cats more times than I can count over the years. Cat hair and litter boxes and hairballs and meowing just as I'd get the baby to sleep - they're good cats, but they're still cats, and they lost their cherished baby status as soon as the first human baby arrived. Now, though, there's little I wouldn't give if only my baby could keep his beloved pets.
But he can't, and these cats need a new home.