I’m Allergic to Babies: The Search for a Family Pet

Some of you may remember me mentioning that my daughter wanted a hamster.  She has been saving her money and working hard to earn it for the past three months.  She held a cupcake and lemonade sale, she cleaned bathrooms, she dusted blinds, and helped regularly with dishes and cleaning up toys.  She earned $80, and she was ready to spend it.

We trekked to the pet store and began our research.  What do hamsters require?  Would a guinea pig be a better pet?  After we looked at some hamsters and guinea pigs, we saw the cats.  Now, she and my husband are allergic to cats, but we fell in love with them and made an insane choice: we told her we could get a cat.  We went back and looked harder, petted some, and planned our expedition on adoption day.  Then, we got home and began dealing with puffy, itchy eyes, runny noses, and hives.  It was my husband who then declared our insanity and put his foot down.

No cat.

My daughter immediately burst into hot, frustrated tears.  Even as she rubbed her eyes and swallowed her Zyrtec, she cried for a cuddly pet, preferably a cat.  We tried to console her with other options.  (Apparently, she’s allergic to hamsters and guinea pigs, too.)

“How about a snake?”

“Turtles are cute!”

“Oh wait, I know.  I know!  A pig.  A little pig!  Your aunt Haley was obsessed with those a while ago.  They are totally cute.”

After a quick search on Google, I read that pigs are super intelligent.  This sounded promising.  Pigs have bristles, so no allergies.  Check.  Pigs cannot regulate their own body temperature and must have a water or mud hole to roll around in.  Ewwww.  Pigs like to root up carpet and may reach at least 50 pounds.  No way.

from Wikimedia Commons, Photo by Eirik Newth

We were back to square one.

I asked my Facebook friends for their suggestions.  One person suggested the old standby: goldfish.  Been there.  Done that.  My daughter is so not interested in more fish.  I had a better relationship with our fish than she did.

Others suggested hypoallergenic dogs.  Apparently there are several options, yet my mom had one and its saliva always caused Olivia to break out in large welt-like hives.  The Obamas have an allergy-friendly dog, a Portuguese Water dog (I believe), as their daughter Malia and Mrs. Obama both suffer from pet allergies.  This sounded like a good option for us.  If the first family can handle a dog, so can we.  Then I remembered that they live in the White House, have help, and probably never have to sleep with, touch, or see the dog if they don’t feel so inclined.

public domain image from Wikimedia Commons

We have also gotten some suggestions for a Siberian cat or a Russian Blue cat.  I found a Siberian in our local classifieds, but it had been sold before I called.  Apparently, it was the only one in our state.  And before we try this, we must actually meet one, pet it, walk away, and hope that eyes don’t start swelling and noses don’t start running.

Russian Blue cat, image by Flor de Azur from Wikimedia Commons

So, we found a Russian Blue cat at a shelter about an hour from our home.  (It was also the only one of its kind in our state.)  We spent Saturday traveling there and playing with it.  The first thing it did was bite my husband.  Then it tried to scratch everybody.  Wow.  What a friendly cat.

We also left the shelter with allergy symptoms for half of us.  However, because the room in which we met the cat was covered with dander from hundreds of other cats, we have no way of knowing if that breed was less allergenic to my husband and daughter.  The other option for one of these cats is to buy one from a breeder.  They run upwards of $500, and that is much less noble than saving an animal from a shelter.

Another friend on Facebook suggested that I give Olivia a baby brother instead.  So many people started liking her comment that I had to rebut.  I wrote: “I’m allergic to babies.”

So we are at a stalemate in our home.  My husband and daughter are allergic to cats and dogs and hamsters and guinea pigs (and anything else that’s cuddly).  My youngest daughter is allergic to sleep, good behavior, and eating green vegetables.  I am allergic to babies, cleaning up messes, midnight feedings, poopy diapers, and exercise.

Yesterday, a neighbor asked Olivia how her quest for a hamster was going.  She explained the saga to him, but then proudly declared, “But we’re getting chickens instead!”  Huh?!?

So, what are you allergic to?

52 thoughts on “I’m Allergic to Babies: The Search for a Family Pet

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  1. Well… apparently if you stick it out with a particular pet you will “acclimatise” and be able to tolerate that particular animal. My son has a friend with allergies who has terrible reactions to our house with all its animals (even though I clean like crazy whenever he comes over) but he has his own cat and has developed a tolerance for it.

    As for hamsters … when my kids were young there were hamsters for sale at school. We said NO because we already had dogs and a cat. My husband said it would get into the furniture or the cat would get it. Lo and behold, my daughter came home with a hamster (“I didn’t buy it, mom. I got it for free.”) Obviously the sellers didn’t get the point. What happened? It disappeared into the sofa and we had to take the thing apart to get it out (and buy an industrial stapler to put the furniture back together again). The next thing was that the cat got it. Despite all precautions. And guess who had to put it out of its misery? People who sell or give away pets at school are NOT particularly thoughtful people.

    1. Oh my! That’s awful. That reminds me of a story my friend told me. They purchased a sofa from a thrift store, only to find it infested with mice. Yuck! The other strike against hamsters is that they are nocturnal, and apparently will bite you if you pick them up during the day.

  2. Hahaha! Chickens! Read her “Mama Day” by Gloria Naylor. Remember that scene where the chickens attack that guy and he dies of a heart attack?

  3. I’m allergic to everything that’s cute and fuzzy (and pollen, tree nuts, shellfish, sunscreen… I might as well just say I’m allergic to life). Pets and myself don’t mix.

    If you have a yard you might want to consider adopting an outdoor kitty and leaving it food and a nest on your front porch. My parents have a delightful and cuddly porch kitty, and the advantage is that if I’m not in the mood to deal with the allergy symptoms by petting it or playing with it then I don’t have to. Porch kitty is also a great way to deal with the massive amounts of leftover turkey on Thanksgiving. 🙂

  4. What a great post! Made me laugh out loud. I’m sorry you haven’t had any great breakthroughs with the pet situation. I hear chickens are the thing to have nowadays. 🙂

  5. Like Haley, I have a natural aversion to BS. It must be genetic.

    I am also allergic to unsolicited advice and out-of-the-blue criticism. I have a friend who is a master of unwelcome advice and criticism. Despite his lack of any formal education beyond high school (or perhaps because of it, as this could be a sign of insecurity), he likes to correct others’ pronunciation of words. His corrections are frequenlty wrong (or are of words that have more than one correct pronunciation), are always unwelcome, and have become supremely annoying. I’ve taken to using words that he’s “corrected” in the past more often than I normally would in conversation with him.

    Symptoms of my allergies flare up in such funny ways, sometimes. But I find a nice glass of wine or some alone time usually brings them under control again. Just like Claritin.

    1. LOL! You are too funny. It is fun to annoy people on purpose though, especially when they are so annoying. And it is so easy to do when they display their pet peeves.

    2. haha nice. I think I’m allergic to obvious lies people tell to one-up someone. I’m sure you DID find a very simalr vase in the back room of a mobster pawn shop that was valued at over half a million dollars…sure…People like that seriously irritate me.

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed this post. You had me SOL. (Snorting out loud) I wish I had some great advice for you. Llamas are cuddly. As are sheep. Goats don’t like to snuggle, but they can cut back your grocery bill. Give a little, take a little. =)

    1. Now I’m SOL. Sheep? Goats? It looks like it’s time for us to move to the country and live off of the land. We’d probably all be dead in a few months if we tried!

  7. This is great. Well, an unfortunate situation, but a great story, nonetheless. I am also allergic to just about everything but was determined to get some sort of pet for myself. I also thought about going the hypoallergenic dog route, but they were all too expensive and I was set on adopting one from our local shelter. I ended up with a little 12-pound mutt, we think she is a dachshund/beagle/chihuahua but who knows. She is so small and her hair is so short that she rarely ever irritates my allergies. I just have to make sure I vacuum regularly and keep her off of my bed and pillows…which is much easier said than done!

  8. So are you actually looking in to getting chickens? That’s awesome, there are some adorable breeds. Would you guys be allergic to bunnies. I mean anything you get will stink and poop…but at least bunnies can stay outside. If you get them young and hand raised they’re really really sweet. My mother-in-law raises a couple different breeds of rabbits and often sells (even gives away) youngsters that aren’t showable. Sometimes something as simple as a dark patch of hair or different colored eyes will be enough to disqualify a bunny, but won’t make it any less adorable or perfect for a pet. Also if they’re outside, maybe the allergies wouldn’t be as bad. As far as chickens go I’ve had good luck with our silkie chicks and the easter egger is very friendly. You should check out my blog…it’s literally about how we just started raising chickens! If you have any questions I’d be happy to impart my little bit of aquired knowledge.

    1. If we get serious about chickens, which my daughter is, I will be asking you for tons of advice! Thanks for letting me know about your blog. As to rabbits, I think she would be allergic to those too, but you have a good point about them being outside.

  9. I don’t think I’m allergic to anything, just fake people:) There are some hypoallergenic cats and dogs if you really want pets instead of babies or chickens:) Apparently their fur resembles human hair so it makes it easier for people with allergies to get used to them.

    1. Good to know! Thanks. I’m allergic to fake people too. I try to avoid them, yet there’s one in particular I just keep running into in the oddest places. Why, oh why?

  10. I was laughing at your post! We are lucky here in that none of us are allergic to cats and we have three of them: an old boy (15), a young lardy one (3) and a manic, half-feral street cat (1). They are all rescue animals. My mum berated me for getting three cats and said ‘Why don’t you just have another baby?’ Like you, I think I prefer the cat route. It’s pretty sad really that my first rebellion against my mother in life was in getting three cats (which she thinks is akin to becoming a crazy woman). What about rabbits? Are they allergy-inducing?

    1. That’s so funny! I think the Russian blue cat we met is a lot like your feral one. I think it was used to being a stray. We’ll have to look into rabbits.

  11. That person who suggested you have a baby instead just needs to be smacked hard on the head? Seriously now, we’re looking for a fun cuddly pet, not a little droopy ball of. . . ew! Sorry, I am just very allergic to little humans, too. . .
    I don’t think I am allergic to cats, though one cat once gave me a scratchy weird spot that stayed for a month or so. I guess this certain cat transmitted something to me.
    Is your family allergic to rabbits too? They do shed fur, so I am not sure, but you might want to try that. Chickens are so messy, but what about some birds? Or a parrot? They are all messy, but much less than chickens. I like turtles, too, but they are not much fun.

    1. Oh, the person who said it is one of my best friends. She was just being funny. As to a turtle, that is what I am leaning toward if after we visit the allergist we have no other options. I wish you had been more enthusiastic about a turtle! 🙂

      1. I wanted a turtle, but my mother doesn’t like them :/ and she also claims they can cause some illnesses (she didn’t specify anything, you might wanna check that out). Anyways our house is really small to raise anything that runs around a lot.

        I am sorry if the comment about your friend sounded offensive, by the way 😦

  12. Theres’ allergic to cats in general, and allergic to your own cat once your body gets used to it. I’m allergic to cats in general, but once I adopted and lived with my own cat for a couple weeks, I quit sneezing and have no issues at all with my own cat’s dander & fur. I still get all the classic symptoms when I visit a friend’s pet, though. But it’d be a hard thing to test out, because you’d have to at least foster a cat for awhile to see if your husband and daughters acclimate to the pet, and then it’s difficult to send a loved creature back if it doesn’t work. And apparently sometimes it doesn’t work.

    Good luck in your pet search!

    What about a little hedgehog? They have bristles instead of fur. And are very cute and fairly interactive, I hear.

    1. Ooh, a hedgehog! That sounds fun. I like the idea you suggested about living with one and seeing if they acclimate. That would be worth doing. Thanks for the great advice!

  13. I’m allergic to babies, too…for now. And admitting to my husband that he’s right, and cleaning out the cat litter (at least you don’t have to deal with that!), and I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to the rain after getting an overdose in Portland. As concerns the comment above…I’m not sure a hedgehog is a good idea. I’ve heard they’re very loud and also like to burrow. Maybe a chicken isn’t a bad choice. They’re adorable as chicks and you’d get fresh eggs later!

  14. I think I am allergic to insincerity, laziness, selfishness, conceit…. what else? Oh, and I just found out this week that I am allergic to trees and, sensitive to absolutely any irritant (nonallergic rhinitis, which I have so generously genetically gifted to my eight-year-old). I will never own any pets. But then I have no desire to own a pet either (boys are enough like pets to satisfy any need I might have in that category), so my sensitivities are, in this case, a blessing.

  15. I’ve just learnt that the Bishon Bise (looks like a Maltese Poodle to me — little ball of closely curled white fur) is apparently a good dog for people with allergies. Something to do with the fur. Maybe worth looking into?

  16. I was hoping for a happier ending:) did you ever find something? I’m in the same boat. I’ve been considering a bearded dragon which I hear are very sweet, or sugar gliders which they say are hypoallergenic. Both are a little involved though, with tanks and cages and such

    1. We actually may end up with a hamster! We went back to the allergist and had her retested for just animals, and it turns out that she is not allergic to hamsters or guinea pigs! Now, she just has to earn it. :). She spent all of her money on an iPod.

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