For legal purposes, the story below is a fabricated narrative.
My sophomore year of college I became friends with a girl in my biology and chemistry lectures who had a cat. This cat's name was Charlie. I began to spend more time with my friend and thus more time with this cat as well. I was not raised around pets and my family has allergies to cats and dogs (with long fur). I have always been someone to tough it out for the animals through the frequent violent sneezes, rare itchy skin, and temporary swollen eyes. Obviously, these deterrents were not severe enough and I made the decision to get my own cat.
At first, we went to shelters and even a local cat café. The only problem is the adoption process. Firstly, I had no record of ever taking care of an animal. My residence was impermanent because of college dorming and I would need the proper paperwork. Shelters and rescues rarely allow college students to adopt cats because of the high abandonment rate near college populous. By chance, my friend who was helping me sent me a message that her charity case of a sister for every feline she sees needed to find new homes for 2 cats she rescued off the street. Apparently, she had 8 cats and the landlord drew the line at 6. I was beyond ecstatic and equally nervous. I ended up choosing to adopt, at the time, Toby. We went home for spring break, and when we got back my friend smuggled him into her dorm.
On the day of my official assumption of responsibility, I went to my classes for the day and then went to her dorm in the evening. When I opened the door, my heart melted. I pet him for a little bit…and then we shoved him in a cardboard box with a blanket and walked from North Campus to South Campus (20 minutes). He was heavy, and he was loud. This cat would not stop meowing. We arrived at my dorm and purposely laughed as obnoxiously as possible in the lobby to drown out the distressed meows for help. My friend took the elevator upstairs and stood in my dorm ready to open the door. I lived across from the fire stairwell in a single; conveniently, I could directly enter my room to avoid walking by everyone/my RA. I walked up 9 floors, and bolted into my room. Mission accomplished.
Haruki (a Japanese name meaning sun and brightness) was home.
We let him out of the box, and he – rightfully – sprinted under the futon. He took a little while to acclimate to his new environment, but once he did he would not leave me alone. I could not even get dressed without this cat trying to be a part of it somehow. The biggest issue with him was this attachment. I could not leave my dorm without him standing by the door and incessantly meowing for my return. Luckily, the RA lived a few rooms down and did not have any reason to walk by my room. We were in the clear.
Other than the obvious hurdle of having to smuggle him out of the dorm all over again, there was only one other brooding problem: my allergies.
I look back and I give my past self immense credit. In the first week, I would wake up in the middle of the night hacking and sneezing because I was so sensitive. Eventually, I could kick him out of the bed and stop him from sleeping with me without opposing dramatic shrieks. This drastically helped. I drank tea at all hours of the day, and finally settled on a three-part treatment of Nasonex; Afrin; and generic antihistamine.
After a few weeks, I reached a point where I could be with him for long periods of time without my allergies acting up. The only triggers my allergies had left was my eyes: either from him directly or my hands from petting him. This was the easiest hurdle to overcome as I just had to wash my hands and be extra careful. I was mostly in the clear, other than the few times I would reflexively rub my eye and then woefully remember the consequences of making such an error.
Overtime, I gradually reduced my daily three-part treatment. I first cut out Nasonex, and Afrin came shortly after. I never planned to stop taking the antihistamine, but one day I ran out. That day, I decided to take a chance and see what would happen. Surprisingly, I was fine. Haruki and I were good to go, except for the ever-present eyeball trigger…or so I thought.
In 2019, I went on a 5-week study abroad in Spain. Obviously, I could not bring my cat with me. He stayed with a friend and we parted ways for essentially 1.5 months. I had missed him so much, and when I finally got to see him…I would not stop sneezing. I had lost my "allergic resistance" in the time I was away from him. No need to worry though, in about 1-2 weeks I was back to normal.
If you're a cat lover who has some of the worst allergies, it is possible to coexist with your feline friend as well as love and cuddle them without too much discomfort. Just be prepared for a bit of a rocky start, and while I love my boy to death…maybe don't get a long-haired cat.