Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mr. Whiskers Feels Your Pain, Simba

Mr. Whiskers, a disgruntled feline who grudgingly acquiesces to bathtime for the sake of his family's respiratory health (with no shortage of growls and hisses), was a hit among readers when his column recently appeared in the Holiday Issue of Allergy & Asthma Today magazine. AAT reader Brenda Cruse has a cat who can relate--and she sends us the following tale.
Also be sure to check out my recent post featuring photos of my daughter-in-law, Kristin, administering a cat bath with a sensitivity that even Mr. Whiskers might admire. (Click here to read the post.)

Here's Brenda's cat-washing story:

"I have asthma, and our cat Simba is my constant irritator. He takes a nap on my pillow, and I spend the night coughing, wheezing and puffing albuterol. We've made lots of other comfy spots for him to rest, but he does seem to enjoy our bed!

We've found that if Simba gets a bath every two to three weeks, my symptoms are much better. My husband is usually the bather. Simba is a LARGE cat. He's about 25 pounds of well-fed, spoiled kitty-with-an-attitude.

One day last summer, I had asked hubby to give Sim his bath. He choose to do this while I was out somewhere. I came home and parked my car in front of the house, as I usually do. I hear this terrible screaming noise coming from a cat. I thought I had hit the neighbor's cat, it was so terrible and painful! I jumped out, got on my knees and started looking for an injured kitty. No kitty anywhere.

I hear more painful screams from a cat. I go in the house and start looking for my cats to make sure they're all OK. Devil Cat and KC are in the front window, Simba is nowhere around.

I go upstairs, still hearing screams from a cat. I see the bathroom door is closed--and I hear curses coming from my husband. I open the door to find Simba in the tub with my husband just about lying on him to keep him in the tub. The shower is running and the screams and curses are getting louder. The cat is doing his best to get out of the tub, and my husband is doing his best to keep cat in the tub. Curses are flying, claws are out and kitty is not happy.

At this point I'm laughing like a loon and my husband is screaming to close the door. I pull the door to close it--and clean kitty shoots out of the tub straight into the litter box and proceeds to lie down and roll! Simba has no idea what's coming next. Another bath! We pick him up and attempt to put him back in the tub for Round Two. It takes both of us to keep the cat contained and claws away from our skin. The painful screaming from the cat resumes, the curses resume and bath day has just gotten funnier. Trying to get clumping litter off a long-haired cat who's already fighting mad is not an easy task!"

We loved this story and some of the other “cat bath tales” we’ve received. However, we noticed a theme: When it comes to our beloved pets, some of us can be pushovers to a fault. Here are some tips for behavior modification – for pets and the humans who love them:

First, if your cat has made himself at home on your pillow -- donate your pillow to your kitty. Put it on a chair next to your bed. Buy yourself a new pillow, slip on dustmite-proof encasings for the pillow and your mattress, and when you make up your bed each morning, put your pillow in the closet and don’t bring it back out until you climb into bed. Little by little, inch the chair with your old/pet’s new pillow closer and closer to the door. Eventually, move the pillow outside your door and make your bedroom a cat-free zone. (PureZone has options for allergen-proofing your sleep space.)

Second, having to use albuterol every night is not a good sign at all. According to national asthma guidelines, this falls into the category of high risk of death or other serious encounter and long-term damage to your airways. Have you talked to your allergist about immunotherapy (allergy shots) or other medications that can help?

Third, try washing your bedding two and three times a week in an allergen-neutralizing laundry detergent such as those from Ecology Works. No special washing machine or dryer needed. And consider using a HEPA vacuum cleaner. I’ve had my Miele for 12 years and it works as great as the first day I bought it. In the same period of time, most people spend more than I did on multiple vacuums.

Listen, it’s been a while since we surveyed our entire readership population, but the last time we did, more than 50 percent of AANMA members fessed up to being hopelessly in love with their pets. The good news is there are things you can do that may give you the best of all worlds. Check out the Indoor AIRepair kit developed by AANMA with EPA for tips on making the air in your home more breathable .

Stay warm!

(By way of disclosure, any companies featured above did not and were not asked to pay for mention on this blog. AANMA does not endorse products, and if we mention them on this blog, it is purely informational.)

Nancy Sander
President and founder
Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA)
2751 Prosperity Ave. Suite 150
Fairfax, VA 22031

1 comment:

  1. Hi Nancy,
    Thanks for your informative piece on living with pets for allergy and asthma sufferers!
    One thing you did not mention in your list of options for living with pets was allergy desensitization. There is now a sublingual allergy drop for kids and adults alike that treats both cat and dust mite allergy as well as pollens. It is called Pollenguard. I have had my son on these drops for nearly a year now and his symptoms are so much better! I did my research and this type of therapy is all backed by scientific clinical trials. He now very rarely takes his puffer and we get to keep our beloved kitty.